There are few athletic directors more engaging to fans out there than Temple’s own Dr. Pat Kraft, who joined a conversation I was having with former head coach Wayne Hardin during one tailgate last fall.
Coach and I were talking about past Temple opponents, and why we could not get some of those familiar schools on the schedule. I then threw a few names out to Kraft, including Indiana, which I thought might be a school the Temple administration might be interested in playing.
“I asked,” Kraft said, “they won’t play us. We’ve gotten too good.”
(Getting too good is a good problem to have.)
Kraft later said that the days of Temple playing “2 for 1s” are over, so the news earlier this week that Temple is about to schedule a “big name” opponent that wants to come to Philadelphia and doesn’t mind whether it is at Lincoln Financial Field or the new stadium is big.
Temple head coach Matt Rhule indicated as much on 97.5 on Tuesday, saying that the Owls will be playing Maryland, Rutgers, “possibly” Duke and a “big name” opponent he could not divulge just yet.
It is a Big 12 school and, while West Virginia makes the most sense, it certainly doesn’t fit the kind of big national name criteria Rhule outlined.
All indications are that the opponent will be Oklahoma. That’s good news because it shows that Kraft never gave up trying to get someone and that the Owls are moving away from the Stony Brooks and the Villanovas of the world. For the Owls to get into big bowl games, they are going to have to not only win AAC titles but combine that with wins over big-name opponents. Even Houston, which beat a P5 opponent in the Peach Bowl, Florida State, did not get a Final Four invite despite a 12-1 record.
The parameters of national success are pretty clear for an AAC school. Win the league, but also beat a big name school. Oklahoma is a big name, if that is the team Temple schedules. Heck, Oklahoma might help the Owls get into the Big 12 some day.
Once the Oklahoma shoe drops in a couple of weeks, it should be big news. Maybe the Owls can schedule a road trip that includes Tulsa and Oklahoma back-to-back and stay out there and practice for a week.
Monday: Power 5 Health Care
Wednesday: A Look At Some Early Signees