The tradition at Temple has been to name nine special tough guys before the first game of the season and number those guys 1-9, not necessarily in order of toughness.
Temple University official photographer Joseph V. Labolito captured the essence of the single digit tradition and the university in general with one general iconic photo shot (above) last Thursday. In the background, is a smiling Bernard Pierce—one of the few guys who turned down the honor of the single digit—and in the foreground is the toughest of the tough guys, Nick Sharga.
There are a few digits left, but here’s a novel idea.
Be very stingy about giving out the numbers just to fill out the roster.
Before Pierce’s sophomore season, then head coach Al Golden wanted to give Pierce a single digit but Pierce already was well on his way to making No. 30 a special number in Temple history and wanted to keep it. Golden honored that request. Pierce singlehandedly lifted the Owls to arguably the second-best win of Golden’s Temple career—a 27-24 job at 10-win Navy, with 268 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman. (He also had a big hand in the biggest win of Golden’s career, a 30-16 thumping of BCS bowl-bound UConn, but that came in the next season.)
If the Owls find enough guys who meet the standards of guys like Sharga, Ventell Bryant, Sean Chandler, Keith Kirkwood and Jacob Martin, then they should hand out the rest of the numbers before the Notre Dame game.
If not, make it a game-to-game thing for performances in the game before or just hold the number open. That makes the honor that much more special.
Who fills out the list?
My guess if Sharif Finch will be at least a candidate for a single digit. How long as Finch been around? He played a terrific game as a starting linebacker in a loss at Rutgers that would have been a win had he not been called for a bogus penalty on a late hit two plays before RU hit the game-winning touchdown pass. That was way back in 2013. Finch is also a big-time playmaker and has blocked five punts in his Temple career and also picked off New York Jets’ quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the key play of a 27-10 win over Penn State two weeks ago.
Other than Finch, a darkhorse candidate could emerge. Maybe Ryquell Armstead, but, either way, Temple will need more than nine tough guys to be successful whether they get a single digit or not.
Tomorrow: Done Deal Of The Century