Attendance Goals: Cement Ceiling

mcHale

 

Recently, a hashtag has surfaced on the Temple football twitter page #fillTheLinc18 with photos of several returning Owls in action.

It might have had something to do with seeing that stadium vibrant and exciting and filled to capacity and sound for the Eagles’ season but, while an admirable goal, that ceiling is out of reach.

bestoftemple

 

A university with 40,000 full-time students, 320,000 alumni and 12,500 employees should be able to fill a 70,000-seat stadium

 

It should not be, but it is. A university with 40,000 full-time students, 320,000 alumni and 12,500 employees should be able to fill a 70,000-seat stadium but only a small fraction of those numbers are even interested in college football. (We have a great ex-Temple basketball player who posts photos of him and his sons at Eagles’ games every Sunday on Facebook but who I’ve seen at about one Temple football game in the last five season. #Sad.)

A glass ceiling is an Invisible but real barrier through which the next stage or level of advancement can be seen, but cannot be reached by a section of qualified and deserving individuals.

Temple football, though, does have a real ceiling of interest and it’s a cement one, harder than glass.

The 2016 Owls were set up for a nice season—which they eventually had—but fell flat on their faces before a crowd of 34,005 against Army. On the way out of that game, I heard several dozen fans saying “same old Temple” and “I’m not coming back” and these were the soft core fans, not the hard core ones. There is a reason why Temple always gets good crowds in the opener and it is because the soft core group is giving them one shot. Big wins in the opener usually mean good attendance years; big losses in the opener are almost impossible to recover from.

Getting that soft core wrapped around the hard core should be the goal and build from there.

Wayne Hardin was asked what it would take for Temple to fill Veterans Stadium—their long-demolished home then—on a consistent basis. “We’d have to go undefeated for 10-straight years,” Hardin said.

The comment was just a little tongue-in-check.

The ceiling of Temple football interest is about 35,000 fans and that’s why the university is creating a demand for tickets by building a stadium of exactly that size. So while the hashtag of #halffillTheLinc18 may not be as sexy, it certainly is a lot more realistic and the best the Owls can do until the new Temple Stadium is completed.

Meanwhile, a nice 52-7 win over Villanova would do much more to fill the Linc the rest of the season than another 16-13 one.

Wednesday: Great Expectations

Advertisements

Stadium: End Of The Beginning

 

badurban

Seats here are too far away from stadium and not on top of the field like this other example of a great urban stadium within essentially the same square acreage footprint.

urban

Roughly six years ago, a Temple University Board of Trustees member told a friend of mine at the NCAA Tournament that a football stadium on campus was a “done deal.”

My friend has a lot deeper pockets than me and often traveled to see the football team in remote Middle Atlantic Conference places like Mt. Pleasant, Michigan and Oxford, Ohio, with reports about the Temple fan presence there.

Often, he was it–the guy who was invited to home tailgates by the Central Michigan and Fake Miami fans like an alien who landed in a flying saucer.

This December, his move to Coral Gables, Florida made him a more likely prospect than I to make the Gasparilla Bowl and he bellied up to President Dick Englert at a pre-game function and dropped the question about whether or not Temple will build a new football stadium.

“We’ll see,” the coy Englert said.

goodurban

Temple fans should accept no less than this kind of stadium

Well, we saw a little bit on Thursday when the university announced to the world that the stadium is presenting plans to the city for the building of a “multi-purpose facility.” Notice the word “multi-purpose.” If it had been “a stadium” the already negative view of many of the city pols would have been further polarized.

Make no mistake about what happened Thursday.

This is not the end of the stadium process but the end of the beginning. The end is a long, long way away.

It was nice to finally see an artist’s conception of the stadium. To me, that was disappointing. The seats are too slopped back and not on top of the field. Some tinkering needs to be done on the architects’ end. Make the stadium like Boston College here and we’re in; otherwise, where is the Temple home field advantage?

The timeline that many stadium proponents state continues to be: Shovel in the ground by August, stadium done by 2019.

For someone who has lived in Philadelphia all of my life and knows the ins and outs of the corrupt political system here, that’s a pipe dream.

Figure on two years of hassle with the city and a shovel in the ground by 2019 at best. At worst, figure a thumbs’ down from the city and an extended Linc lease. I’m a lean toward a stadium at Temple because I think the ceiling for interest in Temple football is 35K at best. That still looks horrible in a 70K stadium and perception to many is reality.  Still, to think that today’s announcement puts this on a fast track to completion is pure fallacy.

Plan on going to that stadium for the opener maybe 2021 but more likely 2022.

I will have to eat a lot more salads, drink a lot fewer beers and work out about two extra hours a day to definitively  say I will see The Promised Land with you but I promise to try.

From what I’ve been told by my Philadelphia City Council peeps, there are 10 elected members and seven at-large members. For this to pass in the county, there will have to be nine votes. Right now, Temple can count on four. Getting to nine will not be impossible, but it will be close to impossible.

This is not the end but the end of the beginning. The end of the end could be longer than anyone knows. In short, not a done deal by a longshot.

Monday: Five Unanswered Questions

Heating Things Up: Hiring Adam DiMichele

Every once in a while, Temple coach Geoff Collins does something that makes you think he gets his surroundings.

Hiring Adam DiMichele certainly qualifies with one of those somethings.

DiMichele is now the “recruiting coordinator” and the 10th fulltime assistant as allowed by the NCAA as of last Tuesday.

Hey, he could have hired another Coastal Carolina guy.

DiMichele kicks McNabb's butt

Adam as a Philadelphia Eagle (hey, they still need a backup to Sudfeld)

I’m not so provincial that I believe Collins should hire all Temple guys to coach at Temple but, with Adam, I’ve got a soft spot.

Including P.J. Walker, Steve Joachim, Matty Baker, Tim Riordan, Henry Burris and Lee Saltz, Adam DiMichele is my favorite Temple quarterback of all time.

Notice I wrote “favorite” and not “best.”

Favorite is because he was the conduit between a lot of bad years and a lot of good ones.

Sitting at Franklin Field right behind the late, great Peter “Doc” Chodoff watching Temple get waxed during the Dark Ages that culminated in a 20-game losing streak, Doc turned to me and said, “Mike, why does every other team have a better quarterback than Temple?”

“I’ve always said the same thing. Seems like it’s been that way forever, Doc. I don’t know.”
Doc Chodoff got a field named after him a few years later, right around the time  I got my quarterback who was better than the bad guy’s quarterback.

His name was Adam DiMichele.

DiMichele was the bridge between the 20-game losing streak and what Temple football is today. Had not Buffalo completed an inexplicable “Hail Mary” pass, he would have led the Owls to a bowl game in 2008.

Had not Joe Paterno denied him a transfer waiver, DiMichele—not Chester Stewart nor Vaughn Charlton—would have been the quarterback in the 2009 Eagle Bank Bowl and there is no doubt in my mind he would be the difference.

DiMichele was part of a lot of great plays while at Temple, my favorite being the “fake knee down” against Navy in the 2008 season. Temple looked like it was going to run out the clock but DiMichele feigned the knee and pulled it up just before it hit the ground and found Bruce Francis 30 yards behind the nearest defensive back. Francis walked in but the Owls lost that game, 33-27, in overtime. The year prior, DiMichele flipped the ball back to D’yonne Crudup on a double-reverse and Crudup tried to hit him in the end zone for a game-winning TD against UConn, but DiMichele tipped the ball to Francis, who caught it but it was ruled a non-catch.

DiMichele was always the quarterback of a fullback-oriented offense that head coach Al Golden and offensive coordinator George DeLeone believed in and was the beneficiary of a strong running game that set up great play-action passing. Hopefully, Adam will have enough influence on Dave Patenaude to go away from Coastal Carolina Soft back to Temple TUFF. If anyone can convince Patenaude to put Nitro back there leading the way for Rock and David Hood, it’s Adam DiMichele.

More than that, though, he’s got to convince Collins and, by getting hired, he’s at least halfway there.

Monday: The 2018 Power 5 Opponents

Paul Palmer: The Power of A Resume

vinny

Too bad they don’t allow college football nominees to sit down and type out a resume in order to be selected in the Hall of Fame.

Temple’s Paul Palmer would have been selected seven years ago when he was first nominated. All he would have needed to do is type some numbers compared to guys already in there and include a computer printout that had Temple’s schedule ranked in the Top 10 of the hardest schedules in two of his three seasons.

It should have been a no-brainer a long time ago.

Palmer not only had the minimum requirement of being selected as a first-team All-America, but his numbers were far better than a lot of backs already in the Hall of Fame.

Check this list out. The other two guys on this group were already in the Hall during Paul’s first year of eligibility:

dayne

In other words, he should have been in there a long time ago.

Now he joins former Temple coaches Pop Warner, Ray Morrison and Wayne Hardin in the Hall of Fame and becomes the first Temple football player in the Hall in a history that began well over 100 years ago.

Temple had national stat leaders before Paul arrived on the scene, with Sam Shaffer leading the nation in interceptions and Paul Loughran kickoff and punt return yards, but Palmer took the numbers to a new level. lawhorn

When Palmer was at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., Bruce Arians was the only Division I coach to offer him a scholarship and it paid off big-time for Arians and the Owls. Palmer had 100-yard rushing games 21 times and six 200-yard rushing games. In 1986, he led the nation with 1,866 rushing yards and 1,976 yards from scrimmage.

He broke the single-season all-purpose yard record previously held by USC’s Marcus Allen with his 2,633 yards that year.

Temple Owls Paul Palmer
He finished second to Vinny Testaverde in the 1986 Heisman Trophy balloting but probably should have finished first.

The numbers do not lie and now the truth is in the pudding or, more precisely, the Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

The induction will be on Dec. 1, and that day should be a party for all Owl fans.

Friday: Heating Things Up

Monday: Hope For Offense

Wednesday: February Surprise

A New Year: High Hopes

Maybe Geoff Collins is right and I am wrong.

High Hopes was the song Harry Kalas popularized with the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies and it became the team’s unofficial fight song through the 2008 World Championship season.

 

Philly guy Ed Foley adopted the song for Temple football and, as Collins said, after the Gasparilla Bowl, “can we sing our song?”

High Hopes indeed because that’s how high Collins has set the bar for this 2018 season. Collins says Cotton Bowl and I will sign for that right now.

As we enter the New Year today, that is my most fervent wish for my favorite sports team: The Temple Football Owls.

In the pre-game game prep for the Gasparilla Bowl, Collins mentioned to both announcers that the goal for 2018 for the Owls was the Cotton Bowl. I can only assume that’s where the NY6 game involving the G5 “champion” is located.

bestoftemple

To me, the minimum way to achieve that goal would be to appear in the AAC title game for the third-straight year and win it for the second time in that limited frame and hope somebody like Boise State has a less impressive season than the Owls do.

Personally, I don’t see it but Collins is closer to the team than I am so I yield to his expertise in that area. The recruits appear to include a handful who will challenge for starting spots, so maybe Collins figures he has plugged all the holes. Recruiting is the byproduct of a charismatic staff and a great school in a World Class city that appeals to more students than ever before. In 2017, Temple went over 40,000 students for the first time. Young people find Temple a very exciting place to be and it’s no surprise that some of those young people are great football players.

nickfinal

Nick Sharga’s final message to the team

As followers to this blog have learned over the last decade, we tell it like it is—good, bad or indifferent and, as much as I’d like to be sitting in the Cotton Bowl one year to the day from now (perhaps even beating, say, a Penn State), I do not see it happening. Not after losing the entire defensive secondary—except for its best player, Delvon Randall—or losing its two best edge rushers, two great wide receivers, a solid left offensive tackle and the best fullback in the country.

That’s a lot of losses, even more impactful than losing a first-round NFL edge rusher (Haason Reddick) and a four-year starting quarterback (P.J. Walker) from two years ago.

The positives are that the Owls have found at least one quarterback they can win with, Frank Nutile, and Ryquell Armstead and David Hood are big-time running backs who should both be fully healthy after injuries this season.

To me, getting back to seven wins would be more realistic and everything on top of that would be gravy.

Since I like gravy, I’m stashing away a little money each week so I can pour it on my crow and eat it exactly one year to the day from now in Texas. If high hopes are achieved, these wonderful ants will prove they can move a pretty big rubber tree plant.

Wednesday: Stadium Thoughts

TEN REASONS NOT TO BUILD TEMPLE STADIUM

faustadiumday

AECOM built the FAU stadium and will be one of the two architects for this one.

 Editor’s Note: Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub checks in with his thoughts on the stadium. He’s against it. I’m ambivalent. If no stadium means a permanent move to Franklin Field, I’m for the stadium. If we can extend the lease at the Linc, that’s the preferable option. Ironically, Fizzy played all of his home games in  a place called Temple Stadium.

By: Dave (Fizzy) Weinraub

  1. NEIGHBORHOOD DOESN’T WANT IT
  1. TEMPLE DOESN’T NEED IT – It needs the Eagles to give Temple the same deal the Rooneys give the University of Pittsburgh – Pitt just pays expenses and gets half the net from the concessions. A blue ribbon committee should meet personally with Jeffrey Lurie.
  1. IT CLOSES OFF 15TH STREET – Disrupting southbound traffic
  1. PARKING WILL BE SCATTERED AROUND CAMPUS – Making it very difficult for older fans to walk to the stadium.
  1. THERE WILL BE NO COMMON TAILGATE AREA WITH ACCESSIBILITY TO

FAN’S CARS FOR FOOD AND BEVERAGES – Temple says the open space for tailgating is the quad, but you can’t drive your car there.

  1. TRAFFIC WILL BE HORRENDOUS – Broad Street has lights at almost every corner.  The number streets have either lights or stop signs at every corner.
  1. DON’T SAY TAKE THE SUBWAY  – Most older fans are not going to take the subway. Drive or take the subway to a night game; HA! HA!
  1. THE LINC HAS EASY ACCESSIBILITY FROM SOUTH JERSEY, ROUTE 95, THE AIRPORT AND DELAWARE, AND THE SCHUYLKILL EXPRESSWAY.  That’s why it was built there.  How will fans from all those suburbs possibly drive to campus?  There will be gigantic traffic jams at Broad & Vine.
  1. TEMPLE WILL LOSE A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF THEIR OLDER FANS AND SOME OF THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS – Most of the season ticket holders are older folks, forty to eighty tears old.  Most of the big givers to the university are from this age bracket. Given the problems listed above, many will not purchase season tickets and lose allegiance to Temple.
  1. AS PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED IN THE INQUIRER, A FINANCIAL ANALYSIS OF SCHOOLS NOT IN THE POWER FIVE FOOTBALL CONFERENCES WHO BUILT NEW STADIUMS, ARE CARRYING LARGE, UNNECESSARY DEBT.

Even the Egyptians have stopped building pyramids.

Tomorrow: Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday: Season Analysis

Friday: Recruiting

 

Bowl Win: Christmas Gift Nicely Wrapped

One of the many bowl watch parties across the city of Philadelphia had a pretty creative title.

The “I’m-Too-Poor-To-Go-To-The-Gasparilla-Bowl” party was held at an establishment better known for indoor simulated golf on Delaware Avenue.

I had planned to attend but SEPTA strongly advised people coming into town late Thursday to avoid the Regional Rail—my favorite mode of travel—due to a power failure earlier in the day.

tailgate

So it was off to my neighborhood taproom within a couple of blocks from my house.

Once there, I was surrounded by a group of St. Joseph’s University fans who “hated Temple because they want to displace all the residents to build a stadium” and actively rooted against the Owls.

Never mind that they had all their facts wrong. People who talk about the stadium usually do.

It was with smug satisfaction that I saw that group of haters leaving with their heads between their legs when the Owls built a 21-3 lead in the fourth quarter.

The 28-3 win was a nice Christmas gift for a group of Temple fans who were disillusioned by the results of the last two seasons. It was a long bus ride home from last year for me, but I watched with satisfaction after an agonizingly slow start last night.

It was nice that the Owls followed our advice of putting a nice target on NFL prospect Alex McGough (pronounced MA-GOO, even though we initially though it was pronounced MA-GOW). They hit him hard enough early to knock him out. If you hit quarterbacks hard enough, a lot of good things can happen and those things are usually fumbles, sacks and interceptions. You never hope for someone to hurt and I really would have liked to seen the Owls win with McGough in the game. Alex, we hardly knew ye and I felt bad for the kid when he pounded the turf and left the field for his final time in the first half.

You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure out this this game would have been a whole lot closer with McGough in there, and that was too bad for FIU. Nobody felt sorry for the Owls when they missed six starters in a 31-28 overtime loss at Army, so they were due for some breaks in those areas.

Finishing 7-6 and returning a bowl MVP quarterback certainly is a whole lot better than finishing 6-7. Head coach Geoff Collins would have had a lot of explaining to do about greatness not quitting but finishing 6-7 or #TheStandard being a losing one in the offseason.

Now the Owls can say they are winners for three years in a row and bowl winners for the first time since 2011.

The future looks good for the Owls, although I wasn’t buying the Cotton Bowl narrative the announcers said Geoff Collins was selling.

In my mind, the Owls have no more than an outside shot at winning the AAC but the game day coaching and the offensive scheme are among the things that need to be addressed in the off-season.

Monday: Fizzy’s Thoughts On Stadium

Wednesday: Season Analysis

Friday: The Early Haul