In this space today was supposed to be another story on how the Power Five might view Temple football.
Those future friends can wait for another day, a time to write about Bill Lyon, whose Sunday column in the Philadelphia Inquirer might have been his best from a pure prose standpoint. Lyon is battling Alzheimer’s Disease and, if anyone deserves to win that battle, it is Bill. I sat next to Bill in the old Veterans Stadium press box many times and he picked my brain for Temple information as much as I did his for writing information. In those days, sometimes we were the only two reporters (especially for the Austin Peay game of 1990) on press row. He was always friendly and never ultra-critical of the Temple football program like current contemporaries Mike Sielski and David Murphy are.
Here is what Lyon wrote about Al Golden’s 2010 season:
By Bill Lyon
“Temple: For a long, dismal stretch, there wasn’t a sadder program anywhere. The Owls labored just to win one game a year. From time to time, impassioned voices were raised (ahem) imploring them to simply drop football. A lot of good men were sacrificed in that coaching shredder.
Finally, in 2006, after going 3 and 31 in the three preceding seasons, they brought in one Alfred James Golden, a Yankee Doodle Dandy, born on the Fourth of July, a pup out of one of those Joe Paterno litters. Al Golden had played tight end at Penn State, and then coached the linebackers. He was undeniably young, but he had the pedigree. Still, it’s a long, long way from Happy Valley to Broad Street.
First, there had to be a purge. First, the culture of losing that had set in like dry rot had to be scrubbed away. When all you have known is losing, it’s difficult to envision winning. In his fourth season, last year, Al Golden got the Owls to nine wins. Nine. That used to take half a decade. And he got them to a bowl besides. And now, for the second year in a row, they are bowl-eligible again – and the prospect of 10 wins, or more, lies shimmering on the horizon.
Temple’s opponents used to line up to schedule the Owls for their homecoming. So now, payback, it turns out, really is sweet.
And when you are successful, envious eyes are cast your way. Other programs in need of resuscitation circle. Names of suitors are floated. UCLA. Cincinnati. Tennessee. So far, Al Golden has spurned them. But it is well to remember that in the college coaching game, the market for saviors never closes.”
Wow. That was the one-word response I had while finishing most of Bill’s columns. Wish Sielski or Murphy were capable of that kind of writing.
Like pretty much everything he wrote, Lyon turned out to be right in the end. Two weeks after that story appeared, Golden was off to Miami. Bill probably will never write about Temple football again, but what he did was always fair and that’s really all that matters. If life is as fair to him as he was to life, he will beat this.
Wednesday: Paul Palmer’s Wait Should Be Over
Friday: Power 5 Questions and Answers