The Magnificent Obsession


Recently, we’ve been accused of “obsessing” with the Notre Dame game.

I plead guilty of this so-called obsession, but I don’t think too much emphasis can be placed upon this one moment in Temple football history.

There are a few reasons:

  • It’s the next game and you take them one at a time. (We’ll probably obsess about Villanova the week before that game.)
  • Most people think Temple will “take a step back” this season. A win over ND would do a lot to debunk that notion.
  • Eyeballs. This game will be on the bar in every tavern in the country.
  • It’s a long walk through the scheduling desert to get to 2024 and that is the next “national” name opponent on the Temple schedule: Oklahoma. While there are some interesting regional opponents, like Boston College and Maryland and Rutgers, none hold the cache of Notre Dame or Oklahoma and probably none will for another seven years.
  • Seven years. That’s a long time. Does Pat Kraft strike you as a person who is seeking rid the Owls of the Bucknells and the Idahos and schedule more national games? I didn’t think so.
  • Nothing would give the Owls credibility with the Joe Philadelphia Subway Alumni fan as beating Notre Dame and this is likely their last shot to do so.

The Owls have done a lot since Al Golden took the job over a decade ago. They have soundly beaten an ACC team (Maryland) and a SEC team (Vanderbilt) and a Big 10 team (Penn State). They’ve been to two AAC title games, winning one. They have not beaten Notre Dame. Beating Notre Dame on NBC National television during the first week of the season and that’s the kind of promotion that money cannot buy—especially if Notre Dame goes on to have a decent season and beat Georgia the next week after losing to the Owls.

Win this one, and a lot of good can come out of it.

So, yeah, it’s a big game.

Obsessing over this game does not mean the other games are unimportant.

So consider this a Magnificent Obsession.

Wednesday: Owls at Media Day

Friday: The Big Uglies


After ND, Temple’s Non-Conference Games Lack Juice For Years


It would be sweet if the Owls unveiled the traditional football brand at ND.

Attention Temple fans: It’s a long way from here to Oklahoma, and we mean in more ways than one.

In between now and the 2024 game in Norman, it’s slim pickings for Temple fans in terms of non-conference games.

There will be some attractive matchups against AAC foes, but those conference games can get monotonous at times.

As far as juice—a word invoked by head coach Geoff Collins a lot—there is the game at Notre Dame on September 3, and that’s really it.

Then, as far as non-conference games goes, there’s a lot of walking through the desert before getting to that other Oasis in 2024.


There’s the taste of water in South Bend in September, and a lot of parched throats in between.

That is, unless games against Idaho, UMass, Bucknell and Buffalo whet your appetite.

(We didn’t think so.)

That adds to the meaning of the Notre Dame game and makes it the Owls’ Game of the Century, especially if they can pull it out and the Irish and Owls go on to have a decent season. (Hey, Army beat Temple in the opener and the Owls still went on to a decent season, so Notre Dame can do the same as well.)

The game is important for a couple of reasons. One, it’s Notre Dame and it’s on national TV. Two, Notre Dame is in talks with the ACC to become an all-sports member. If those talks lead to anything, the ACC might need a 16th team to balance two divisions and, should Temple win, it would focus the spotlight on the nation’s largest available media market.

That’s a lot of assumptions, but that doesn’t erase the fact that Temple has had big-time games in the not-so-recent past (Penn State the last two years and Notre Dame in 2015) and will go many years after this one before getting a non-conference foe as juicy as its next one.

So fill up your canteens in South Bend, Temple fans. It’s a long walk in the desert after that.

Friday: The Quotemeister General

5 Signs That Temple Will Beat Notre Dame

Reason No. 6 Owls will win: They did not make the cover of SI.

Reason No. 6 Owls will win: They did not make the cover of SI.

The first thing Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said to Temple’s Matt Rhule when he greeted him for a post-game handshake in 2013 was: “You have a good football team.” Much of that was coachspeak, but Kelly had the right assessment in the wrong year. Many of the players who played for Temple in that 28-6 loss are back for this year’s nationally televised game and there are five signs that point to this one ending differently.

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  1. The Rise of Memphis

Nobody thought fellow AAC member Memphis had a chance against an Ole Miss team that went to Alabama and waxed the Tide on the road, but the Tigers used a home field advantage in the Liberty Bowl and dominated Mississippi, 37-24. Memphis needed a field goal at the gun to beat Temple last year, 16-13. Ole Miss is arguably better than Notre Dame. Temple is arguably better than Memphis now.

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Getty Images

  1. The Last Game

Even though the Owls finished the 2013 season 2-10, an Irish team which finished 8-4 was not able to take them to the woodshed. With a first-year coach and many first-year starters, the game was 14-6 until 43 seconds remained in the first half. In the second half, the two teams played fairly evenly and the 28-6 score was respectable. Even though this ND team is better than that one, the Owls are exponentially better.

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Getty Images

  1. The GameDay Effect

This will be the first visit by ESPN’s College GameDay to Temple and first-time hosts have a 40-25 record. The first thing Temple athletic director Pat Kraft did when he learned the show was coming was to procure an extra head of Hooter, the team’s mascot, for show host Lee Corso to have under his desk.  On the other hand, the Luck of the Leprechaun has produced four losses in the last four Irish GameDay appearances.

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Getty Images

  1. ECU’s Game With Florida

Temple went into Dowdy-Ficken Stadium and came away with a 10-point win over East Carolina, the only home loss of the season for the Pirates. ECU is a good team which lost by a touchdown in the swamp to Florida, 31-24, a similar team in skill set to Notre Dame. If the Owls can handle that kind of foe on the road, they can certainly operate more comfortably in the friendly environment of Lincoln Financial Field.

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Getty Images

  1. Analytics Favor Owls

The Owls rank No. 5 in the nation in one of the most important statistics, scoring defense (14.6 ppg), ahead of Ohio State and Clemson, and it is no fluke as they returned all 11 starters from a defense that finished No. 4 a year ago. Notre Dame ranks No. 14 in scoring offense (38.3 ppg).  The Irish should have a tough time scoring against this defense and, if you cannot score, you cannot win.

No opinion, just cold analytical thinking.

No opinion, just cold numbers from a computer not affiliated with either TU or ND.

The complete Reece/Rhule sit-down interview

Beasley Reece interviews Matt Rhule.

Root for old Notre Dame
To me, the rooting interest for tonight’s National Championship game is a clear choice.It really should be for every Temple fan.
Root, root, root for old Notre Dame.


Imagine the buzz around Philadelphia should Temple knock off the unbeaten national champions in the 2013 opener?Much more electricity in that scenario for Temple than it would get coming off an upset of a ND team which lost to Alabama.

It seems like only yesterday Beasley Reece interviewed a young guy getting his first opportunity to be a head coach.
Afterward, Reece reached out his hand to the young man and shook his head approvingly, “Coach, you sold me. Where do I sign?”
“We’d love to have you,” was the reply.
The coach was Al Golden.
The year was 2005 and it SEEMED like yesterday.
That worked out pretty well for both coach and school.
Hopefully, was really DID happen yesterday, a sit-down interview with another young guy in the same position, Matt Rhule, will end up with similar on-field results.

Love the way Matt mentioned a 3-4 defense, even in passing. Means the thought has at least crossed his mind. Shows me he is using his head already. Temple has never played a 3-4 defense before, but the Owls have found themselves with personnel best-suited for it due to some unforeseen over-recruiting at the linebacker position by the recently departed head coach and suspension circumstances along the defensive front.
Those hard decisions should be addressed in the period between signing day and the the March opening of spring practice.
As usual, Beasley does his usual great job with the questions and Matt was every bit as impressive with his responses as Golden was way back when.
It’s worth six minutes of your time.

TU-ND press conference a head-scratcher

If you say “big football announcement” it better mean a new conference.

Like a lot of people, I’m a creature of habit.
I get up a certain time.
I go to the gym a certain time.
I go to work a certain time.
I even blog at a certain time.
Always the same times for each task.
On big occasions, I’m able to rearrange my schedule.

TU and ND: Two schools with Subway Alumni

That’s why I was excited a couple of weeks ago to hear about the Steve Addazio Meet and Greet, scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 17, at 5:30.
Geez, I thought. I’m off Thursdays. I can go to the gym at my regular time and treat this Thursday like I’m going to work, except I’m meeting the new Temple head football coach instead.
Then I got this email from Temple University yesterday:
“Major announcement concerning Temple Football at 3 p.m., Fox Gittis Room, Liacouras Center.”
Well, that does it.
I’ve got to get there a couple hours earlier than I planned. Whatever needs to be said will be said between 3-3:30 p.m.
Then, I thought:
“Geez, what am I going to do between 3:30 and 5:30?”
(I didn’t feel like going to the Draught Horse or Maxi’s for an early Happy Hour and I certainly didn’t need two hours to browse the bookstore.)
All sorts of things raced through my head, but I narrowed it to these three, in no particular order:
1) Temple is moving to Conference USA for football only;
2) Temple is getting a practice bubble;
3) Temple is scheduling Notre Dame.


Bowl (Site) Time (CT) Network

AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Memphis, Tenn.) 2:30p ESPN

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, Texas) 11:00a ESPN

Military Bowl (Washington, D.C.) 1:30p ESPN

Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu, Hawai’i) 7:00p ESPN

Beef O’Brady’s Bowl (St. Petersburg, Fla.) 7:00p ESPN

Carriers New Orleans Bowl (New Orleans, La.) 7:00p ESPN

Certainly, ONLY No. 1 rises to the level of having its own press conference, separate and apart from the Addazio Meet and Greet. If Temple held a news conference to announce a practice bubble or a scheduling agreement, it would hold itself up for ridicule and I don’t like it when my school is ridiculed. No school in the history of college football has ever held a press conference to announce a scheduling agreement. Scheduling agreements, even with schools like Notre Dame, usually are released on 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper and double-spaced, not the subject of press conferences.
Now Conference USA is, as Bum Phillips once said, is a horse of a whole other fire department.
No. 1 would be REALLY big news. Nos. 2 and 3, very good news, but those could be addressed at 5:30.
I made a few calls and was disappointed.
The news is not Temple to Conference USA or The Big East.
It’s No. 3.
Yeah, that’s right. Temple is holding a press conference to announce that it signed a 2-for-1 deal with Notre Dame.
Temple at Notre Dame in 2013. Notre Dame at Temple in 2014. Temple at Notre Dame in 2015.
That’s all the news there is to print.
What was it cops say at the scene of the accident?
“There’s nothing more to see, you can move along folks.”
That’s pretty much how I feel now.
When you say “major announcement” I expect a major announcement.
This is a good announcement, not a “major announcement.”
Great news, mind you, but not big enough to make me waste a couple of hours. Certainly not big enough for its own separate press conference.
That settles it.
I will see everyone at 5:30 then.