These are the disturbing images Owls have seen walking off the field the last two seasons.
The next time someone tells you a bowl game is a meaningless post-season exhibition game, tell them the story of the last two Temple football seasons.
Each time, the Owls flushed down the toilet the priceless ring of a Top 25 finish by losing to underdogs.
That meant that Vegas had faith in the Owls—1.5 favorites over Toledo and 12.5 favorites over Wake Forest—but that circumstances prevented the Owls from winning and appearing in the Top 25 for two straight seasons. Vegas is usually right, so something went terribly wrong for the Owls at the end of the last two seasons.
If that weren’t enough in and of itself (it is), consider this: Top 25 voters the next year, for the most part, are lazy journalists who just list the teams who were from the Top 25 the year before. Those teams have a built-in advantage over the rest of the other 102 FBS teams because, once in that Top 25 club, you have to play your way out. It is much harder to play your way in from the outside.
That’s the way college football works.
Had the Owls, No. 24 in the CFB poll, beat Wake Forest, they would have likely risen above fellow state school Pittsburgh, the No. 23 team, that lost to Northwestern in the Pinstripe Bowl. Had they beaten Wake Forest coming off a win over Toledo the year prior, they would have established themselves as a more permanent Top 25 presence and that perception in a pro town like Philadelphia would have been invaluable.
We now know why that did not happen. The Owls went heavy on the fun and sun in Boca two bowls ago and, this year, the entire defensive staff missed eight practices leading up to the bowl game.
A Temple program that hemorrhages coaches out the door of the E-O is doomed to this fate, unless new coach Geoff Collins sticks around for a few years. He almost certainly is assured to be here through a bowl game next year and this is where the Owls must make their move for 2018, by establishing themselves in the Top 25 with a bowl win and setting themselves up for upward mobility a year after that.
The Owls should be in a bowl next season and, once there, the entire Temple community from the Board of Trustees to the football element must realize how valuable it is to win this time. That should be the “unfinished business” Collins makes sure is transacted next year under, hopefully, a new and more original slogan.
Wednesday: Waiting For A Puff of Gray Smoke
Friday: God And The Power 5
Sunday: Threading The Needle