If you want to read a feel-good piece about what a great season this was and how we should all be happy about winning 10 games, please head somewhere else.
There is plenty of singing Kumbaya on social media and elsewhere. If you want to read the brutal truth, please proceed.
The brutal truth is that Tuesday night’s embarrassing loss to a MAC team—and it was an embarrassing loss—was not Matt Rhule’s fault, P.J. Walker’s fault or any of the kids’ faults. The fault squarely rests with the Temple administration, which should have never accepted this invitation in the first place.
Of course, we’ve been beating this drum since we heard the announcement (see yesterday’s post and two other posts linked below). My whole post yesterday was that Temple was walking into an ambush and, unfortunately, I was right.
There was no way Temple could match the emotional pitch Toledo was going to have coming into this one. No matter how much Temple could pretend Toledo was Auburn pretending is one thing and reality is another. Auburn is Auburn and Toledo is Toledo and never the twain shall meet, despite 6-6 and 9-2. Toledo had a coaching staff anxious to prove to its administration it made the right call. Temple’s coaching staff needed to prove nothing to its administration.
To Toledo’s players, Temple was Auburn and a step up. To Temple’s players, Toledo was just another MAC school, a directional equivalent of Western Michigan or Central Michigan or Northern Illinois. No matter how much you pretend, those facts cannot be changed.
That’s why Temple should have accepted the invitation that was on the table for Birmingham. There is no doubt on my mind that the Owls would have finished the season by beating Auburn in Birmingham. As you’ve read in this space the past week, there was plenty of doubt in my mind that they could beat Toledo.
It wasn’t because Toledo was better, it wasn’t, but it was because of all the intangible edges Toledo had going into the game that was outlined in Tuesday’s post. Maybe next year, the Owls will do some homework on an opponent—if they earn the right to pick one—and do a little less snorkeling, beach volleyball or bowling. Invest that time in other pursuits, like better play calls in third-down situations.
A lot of Temple fans dropped a lot of coin going to Florida for this one. We hope that the good time they had made it all worthwhile. For me, I would have gone down there for one thing and one thing only—a win.
This should have been treated more like a business trip and less like a reward and, for that, you can lay all of the blame on Neil Theobald and Pat Kraft.