About a month ago, season ticket-holders, myself included, received an email from Temple athletics.
The main question asked the fans where they would like to go for the Owls upcoming bowl game. Listed were D.C., NYC, Florida and other locations.
Nowhere in there was a question regarding possible opponents.
That was my first question. As early as the day after the Notre Dame game, the main goal was to be in the NY6 game. Failing that, I thought the best reward for the Owls was to find a Power 5 opponent in a bowl game and go beat them.
That’s not going to happen and the reason is the survey, which hopefully will be better-worded next year. The overwhelming number of people picked Florida (duh?) for its nice weather and beaches. There was no checkmark asking if Florida would be the pick if the Owls had to play a MAC team.
As the editor of Pravda likes to say, it is what it is.
The mindset changes from going out with a signature win to “better not lose” and that’s a tough mindset to take against a quality opponent. Even though the hardcore college football fan knows Toledo is good and beat Arkansas and Iowa State, the facts are the Temple brand is better advanced by beating a 6-6 Auburn than a 9-2 Toledo. One of the reasons the Owls did not go to the Birmingham Bowl, with a payout of $1.2 million, is the money is evenly distributed among all AAC bowl teams. It didn’t matter that the Boca Raton Bowl payout was only $400,000. AAC has very interesting rules regarding bowl payouts. All bowl money is evenly distributed among all 8 league bowl participants, meaning Temple gets EXACTLY the same share of Houston’s $6.9 million Peach Bowl payout as Houston does. Independence Bowl gets a $1.2 million payout, and the AAC rep will be the 6-6 Tulsa. Bernie Sanders would be proud of the way the AAC redistributes wealth.
So the Temple administration didn’t need to follow the money, just where it thought the most Owl fans will go. The Owls had a choice of Shreveport, Birmingham and Boca and went with Boca.
To those unable to attend, it’s all in the perception and the masses who watch these bowl games are not hardcore college football fans. They watch usually because it is the only thing on ESPN in the bar or at home on a Tuesday night. If they see Temple lose to Toledo, the Temple brand, built on wins over PSU and Memphis and a close to Notre Dame, takes a huge hit. On the other hand, if the Owls were to lose to 6-6 Auburn, the casual fan would say, “Hey, wow, Temple is playing Auburn on TV. That’s great.”
The Owls have to take care of business because a win is really the only way these terrific seniors deserve to go out and because 11 wins will be a school record, but that’s a good team on the other side of the ball that will also have at least half a say in the outcome.
To them, beating a team that—at least in their minds—said it was too good for the MAC is a powerful incentive. Just like beating Auburn would have been for Temple. So it will be interesting to see how the Owls react. Hopefully, they will play like they did against Penn State and Memphis and the mindset will be academic.
At least that’s the theory.