Ever feel like you have a train schedule for a pretty neat destination and just kept putting off getting on the train until you are standing on the platform not knowing if the last train left?
That’s the feeling I have as a Temple fan today, watching some other team pick up a trophy the Owls had wrapped up most of the fall. I really think that this year might have been the Owls’ best chance at getting that elusive Lambert Trophy, emblematic of football supremacy in the East. They’ve been giving this trophy out since 1936 and Temple has not won it once. Chalk up another casualty to the head-scratching 3-4 finish.
There is a possibility another train arrives next year and the Owls better hop on it because the station closes after that. Penn State’s Top 10 recruiting classes will start to make an impact no later than two years down the line, and, after that, the rest of the P5 recruiting will separate other Eastern schools from Temple. I really believe Temple can win this thing next year with another 10-2 record or better, but the Owls will have to beat Penn State again. I think they can. After that, PSU is off the schedule and probably not coming back.
The Owls will be watching the Military Bowl today (2:30, ESPN) and the winner of that game gets the Lambert Trophy. It will be a reminder of how college football should be and not how it is.
Since Navy was No. 1 and Pitt was No. 2 in the last poll released in mid-November, the winner will get this trophy. The leader in the September and October polls, Temple, was ranked No. 3 in the November poll and lost its bowl game.
The Lambert Trophy comes from a different time when there were no conferences but football was played at a high level in the East. Joe Paterno of Penn State was the coach with the most trophies (28). The Nittany Lions added another trophy with coach Bill O’Brien in 2013. Pitt has won it six times and Navy four. Had Temple not lost three of its last four games, it would have surely won its first Lambert Trophy ever this year.
The Lambert Trophy is a reminder of how a regional conference of the large, mostly public, institutions makes a lot more sense than having Eastern teams like West Virginia (Big 12), Syracuse, Pitt and Boston College (ACC) and Navy and Temple (AAC) scattered all over the map.
How great would it be for a conference of the top seven teams in the latest poll? Those were, in order, Navy, Pitt, Temple, West Virginia, Penn State, Connecticut and Virginia Tech. Throw in Boston College, Maryland, Syracuse and Rutgers and that conference just makes too much sense.
That’s why it will never happen, but the Lambert Trophy people should be applauded for keeping a nice thought alive. If college presidents had any sense, that’s the conference the Eastern schools should be playing in today. Those schools would save millions on travel and add millions of visiting fans in ticket revenue due to short driving distances.
That train has left the station, too.