Progress: A Lot of It Is In The Timing

One of the really small signs that Temple football’s profile nationally has been raised could be found in the back of the newspaper in that small type called agate.

The team’s schedule was updated a week ago with times added where the ever-popular TBD (to be determined) or TBA (to be announced) were posted previously.

Six times have been announced.

Checking our archives of the last three years on June 1, the Owls had exactly 1, 2 and 1 dates announced.  Six times etched in stone in this era of TV-dictated starting times is really a lot and realistically all fans can hope for in this day and age.

Small type progress in small type.

Progress, certainly because it means the networks—specifically, ESPN—want to lock the Owls in now and much of the AAC schedule around them later.

By far, at least from a fan standpoint, the “preferred” starting time by a wide margin has been 3:30. That has been substantiated by data compiled from the university’s athletic department via fan surveys for at least a decade. It’s easy to understand. From a working fan’s standpoint, they have to roll out of bed early five days in a row before that to get to work Monday-Friday and don’t look forward to setting the alarm early for a football game on Saturday. From a student’s view, Friday night is a drinking and party night and a significant minority of the kids are looking at a hangover and not an alarm clock on Saturday morning. Retired people are probably just too tired to get up. So there’s a trifecta at work against noon games.

So, while the starting time of noon for a game against hated rival Villanova on Labor Day weekend is far from ideal, look at it from this perspective: The Phillies have a home game with the Cubs starting at 7 p.m. that day. No Phillies fan is going to show up for tailgate at 9 or 10 in the morning, so the likelihood is that all of the Phillies Lot K tailgating spaces will be taken before the first fans arrive well after kickoff. Hell, Lot K might be closed by then. Lot K, in addition to being the top Temple tailgating lot, is also the big tailgating lot for Phillies fans.

The fact that a FBS/FCS game gets on an ESPN Network, even ESPN News, is a plus as well. Usually, those sorts of games are relegated to ESPN3. That honor goes to Buffalo the next week as well as a more palpable starting time for Temple fans.

Plus, the Big 10 network gets a boost by going into the nation’s No. 4 TV market (Philadelphia) and No. 7 market (Washington, D.C.) with the Temple at Maryland game on Sept. 15 (noon). It won’t be the only game on BTN at the time, as Ball State at Indiana and Troy at Nebraska kick off at the same time and get targeted for more regional audiences. Most Big 10 sets, though, will be getting Temple-Maryland.

The times we know so far are:

Sat Sept 1 VS Villanova 12:00 ESPNNEWS

Sat Sept 8 VS Buffalo 3:30 ESPN3

Sat Sept 15 @Maryland 12:00 BTN

Thur Sept 20 VS Tulsa 7:30 ESPN

Sat Sept 29 @Boston College TBD

Sat Oct 6 VS ECU TBD

Sat Oct 13 @Navy 3:30 CBSSN

Sat Oct 20 VS Cincinnati TBD

Thur Nov 1 @UCF 7:30 ESPN

Sat Nov 10 @Houston TBD

Sat Nov 17 VS USF TBD

Sat Nov 24 @Uconn TBD

Wednesday: The Rest of the AAC

Friday: Could This Be The One?

Monday (6/11): Immediate Needs

Wednesday (6/13): Road Trips

Friday (6/15): Early Recruiting Rankings of Note

Monday (6/18): Birthday Wishes

Wednesday (6/20): When No News Equals Bad News

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Cherry and White Over Black and Grey

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Eagles’ kicker Jake Elliott beats black-shirted Owls at buzzer.

The highest ratio of death in a Civil War that killed 660,000 Americans (more than WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam combined) came from the guys who carried the colors for both sides.

Usually, the first guy shot was the flag bearer; then another guy pick it up and be shot and so on and so forth.

The reason was that the guys on both sides took an enormous amount of pride in their colors.

So it has been for at least this Temple fan over the last 45 years. So should it be when Temple football goes to war this fall.

The colors are Cherry and White, not Grey and Black, but the latest rumor I’ve ever—from a very reliable source—is that the Owls are considering an alternate color this fall:

Grey. Or Gray.

Whatever, unlike football stadiums, when you usually hear a rumor that includes “done deal” about a uniform, it usually is.

One word of advice: Don’t do it.

Not because I think the school is blessed to have the best color in sports (specifically, Cherry, but white is OK) but because The God of Football Colors (Karma) did not like it when the Owls departed from the usual over the past few years.

The caveat is that Temple beat Navy wearing black uniforms last season. The norm is that Temple almost always loses donning anything other than Cherry and White.

Here is what happened the four of the last five times the Owls went with some form of black:

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At least Chris Coyer’s helmet looked good.

2012–Rutgers 35, Temple 10–The Owls graduated from the MAC to the Big East this season and were full of themselves after starting 2-0 in the new league. The good times continued to roll in the first half, as they led the visiting Scarlet Knights, 10-0, at halftime. Then the black unis and Karma started to take its toll and Rutgers won 35-10. That season faded to black in a big hurry.  Ironically, that same Rutgers’ team lost to a Temple MAC whipping boy, Kent State, later that year.

2014—Memphis 16, Temple 13—Current Philadelphia Eagles placekicker Jake Ellliot kicks a field goal on the last play of the game after an Owl drops a wide-open wheel route pass from P.J. Walker that would have won the game.

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These black helmets looked like total s*it.

2014—Navy 31, Temple 24–In 95-degree heat (the second warmest Temple game ever), some genius came up with the idea that the Owls wear black helmets. Everyone who knows colors understands that white (which the Owls should wear on extremely hot days) reflects heat and black retains it. Navy had a 31-17 lead in that game at Lincoln Financial Field and the Owls scored a late touchdown. The Owls were also driving for a game-tying touchdown in the final minute but ran out of gas. Maybe the heat got to them.

2016—Memphis 34, Temple 27—In a game the Owls had to have in order to get to a NY6 game, they played like crap on a national TV game in wearing the black unis. Kicker Austin Jones was taken out on a cheap shot. While the Owls ended up winning the league title that year, the loss to Memphis probably kept them from representing the league in a NY6 game. Instead, that honor went to Western Michigan.

Did the black unis have anything to do with the losses?

Certainly debatable, but tempting Karma is never a good idea.

Monday: It’s All in The Timing

Wednesday: Could This Be The One?

Friday: Early Rankings of Note

Impressive Early Camp Haul

buckethats

Recruits naturally gravitate to the charismatic Temple staff.

The official name of the Temple football camp currently underway at the beautiful $17 million Edberg-Olson Complex is “The Geoff Collins Football Camp.”

Like anything else, at least for branding purposes, that should be tightened up.

Call it Camp Haul.

Like the hotcakes served for camp breakfast, the scholarships available to recruits to a school in the top five in the nation for developing NFL players are going fast.

After the first couple of days, Collins quadrupled the number of verbal commits he was able to get by Memorial Day a year ago with four solid verbals as noted here in this article on Shawn Pastor’s excellent site, OwlsDaily.com. On Tuesday, he added another commit to bring the total to five and counting.

Some are smelling what The Rock (Armstead) is cooking and committing to the only school that plays FBS college football in a World Heritage City.

They are called verbals for a reason because the ink doesn’t even touch the dotted line until late December, but there is reason for optimism here. Last year, the Owls made the early signing date pretty much mandatory for their commits and that allowed them to lose none to Power 5 poachers. In each of the previous 10 recruiting seasons, either Al Golden, Steve Addazio or Matt Rhule lost at least two prior verbals to P5 schools. Probably the most notable of those was Akrum Wadley to Iowa.

Not only have the Owls attracted the interest of some pretty good players, they have been able to expose a culture of winning and having fun doing it to a whole other group of players. They’ve been able to point out to recruits that, in all of college football, Temple has been in the top 10 both academically and in producing NFL prospects and that’s a claim that can be backed up by the numbers.

This is what happens when you hire a guy as a head coach who was a recruiting coordinator for Georgia Tech and Alabama. He not only has connections, he knows how the job is done and is able to pass it along to his own recruiting coordinator.

By our math, these verbals leave 21 spots open in the current recruiting class.

Like hotcakes, they are going fast.

Friday: Colors and Karma

Temple Football: Great, Not Just Good

 

Paging through the comments of some of the stories on Temple building a football stadium, I came across these two gems:

“Their football team isn’t even good.”

“Temple should drop down a division like Villanova.”

Hitting the reply button in both cases was too temping to pass up.

standards

The point is, to both of those people, the first by a woman and the second from a man, ignorance is bliss and perception of a decades ago reality is something they chose to hold onto.

The current reality should be the only thing that matters and that is in black and white for all to see.

Unless you are Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma or Clemson, very few teams have carved out a higher profile than Temple recently.

Of the last three years, Clemson and Alabama—with two 14-win seasons—certainly is at the top of college football’s food chain.

Ohio State and Oklahoma are part of that next rung averaging roughly a dozen wins over the last three years.

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Then there’s Temple, which belongs to a very successful “Group of Seven” schools within the 63-team Group of Five.

Of the Group of Five (G5) schools, the Owls are “not even good” because they are close to being great. They are one of only four teams—Houston, Toledo and Boise State are the others—who have either won or been to their league championship games twice over the last three years.

Arguably, the Owls are in the Final Four of that group if you use the current (three-year) sample. Of the teams who have won at least 27 games, only four have been to two league championship games and Temple is one of them.

Their 27 wins of the last three years puts them right there with teams like San Diego State (32), Boise State (30), Toledo (30) Houston (29), USF (29), Memphis (27), Navy (27) and ahead of teams like Ohio (25), Brigham Young (22) and UCF (19).

Even if you limit your sample to just G5 teams—and in many ways that is the fairest comparison, Temple is in the top 10 percent of the most successful college football teams in the nation.

It doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to figure that if this edition of the Owls is “ridiculously good” (as head coach Geoff Collins has said), they can move right up to the top of that class.

The people who think the football team representing the school “is not even good” are probably right. By any standards, a three-year run that puts you in a cumulative top four of a 63-team group qualifies for greatness.

The Cherry (and White) on top of all this would be a NY6 win and that has to be the next step for this program.

Wednesday: Camp Haul

Friday: Color Bearers

Monday: Matchmaking

 

 

Hood’s Loss Could Be Part of Trend

Getting ready for work on Thursday morning and had one of the little-known treasures of television—the Buzzr (correct spelling, not Buzzer)—on in the background.

This is the network known for broadcasting some classic early TV game shows, like What’s My Line and To Tell The Truth, complete with the early commercials of the day.

As I was about to hit the off button on the way out the door, a commercial came on about the “brand new 1953 Sylvania” television.

Color television wasn’t even on the table in 1953 and did not make a widespread appearance until the NBC Television Network introduced it with a Peacock logo 10 years later.

Driving to work, that got me to thinking.

People in 1953, even with the newest televisions, had no idea of what the future held in the industry—certainly color wasn’t in the cards.

People living 100 years ago at the end of WWI probably never realized that television would exist, let alone something called the internet.

People living now probably think football as we know it is going to exist in 2118, but I have serious doubts after what happened with two of Temple’s promising players—linebacker Jeremy Atoki and running back David Hood—over the last few months.

Atoki became the first scholarship disc jockey in Temple history, playing the tunes at the practices, while Hood—the team’s leading rusher a year ago—is giving up football at the advice of his doctors because of too many concussions. Hood is also going to pursue a career in music. A few years ago, quarterback Kevin Newsome—a one-time top Penn State recruit—had the same idea. I completely understand and support the decisions of all three guys and it might be an indication of a changing culture.

We’re not talking about football to music as much as parents steering their kids away from contact sports like football. An Indy car driver appeared on the 1210 AM (WPHT) morning show and said when asked about crashes: “I’m giving each of my kids a set of golf clubs.”

We don’t know what will happen in 100 years and we won’t be around to find out, but I would not be surprised that football on the NFL level or college does not exist anymore.

Maybe someone will dig into the archives of this blog and discover this prediction. Hopefully, they will laugh at it but I have my doubts.

Now if I could only find the guy who predicted color TV in 1953.

Monday: How Temple Stacks Up

 

Bonding Across The Pond

 

hockey

Geoff Collins took the win and Scott Wallace the loss.

Several years ago, Al Golden was the guy who thought getting the seniors away in the offseason on a trip would be a nice bonding experience and beneficial to team leadership and unity during the season.

The place was camping in the Poconos and roasting the marshmallows and setting up base camp served its purpose. No members of the Owls were eaten by Bears and, the nightly camp fire discussions seemed to center on how to be better leaders and winners.

Like many innovative ideas Golden had, the theory seemed to work. Steve Addazio and Matt Rhule did the same thing, sending the team off to the mountains for bonding sessions.

japantrip

Collins gets his name in lights (in Japanese).

This year, Geoff Collins has taken the idea to a whole other level.

Several leaders of these Owls were chosen along with some coaches and a few staff members to spend a week in Japan, ostensibly teaching the game to another culture.

Bonding was just an ancillary benefit and we really won’t know if it will work until the end of the season when the kids give interviews after the AAC championship win, if it happens.

Expect quarterback Frank Nutile to say something like this: “The leaders came together on the trip to Japan. It’s one thing to have a road trip that lasts for a couple of days, but to spend an entire week with these guys in another country, that really brought us together.”

At least the hope that bringing the leaders together will light a fire under the followers.

Upon returning home, another symbol of the bonding was installed in the $17 million Edberg-Olson Complex—an air hockey game. One of the first victors was Collins himself, who vanquished Scott Wallace, 2-1.

After hearing about the Owls playing air hockey in Boca Raton before a damaging loss to Toledo, I’m not sure about that one. Less air hockey and more film study probably is a more valuable pursuit.

Still, since the jet lag should be long gone by the opener, the Japan trip—like the Pocono excursions—probably should be beneficial when all is said and done.

Friday: Injuries and football

Monday: Perception Versus Reality

Gambling Could Make Owls Very Popular

betting

At one of the places I used to work a long time ago and not so far away, we had a guy named Herman The German. He worked in the back shop of the newspaper.

Herman was “a guy who knew a guy” and every Friday during the football season Herman would pass around these neat little white slips with all the NFL games and about 25 of the college ones.

The favorites would be on the left, the spread in the middle and the home team in CAPS. I did pretty well and a couple of times hit nine of 10 games against the spread. It was a nice side income that did not have to be reported.

One day, Herman upped and moved to Belize and the white slips stopped being circulated in the office.

Herman was the last bookie I knew and I never felt moved to seek out another one, knowing that the practice was illegal. I knew Herman. I didn’t know the other guys. Sure, I’d get a March Madness bracket here and there but that was the extent of my betting.

Now that the Supreme Court has effectively legalized gambling—a ruling more about state’s rights than sports betting—I think I will make more than a few trips to the local casino should I feel moved about certain games.  I always thought it unfair that if you lived in Nevada you could bet on the New Mexico State vs. New Mexico game or BYU vs. Air Force but, if you lived in Pennsylvania, you were out of luck.

bestchase

Never betting for or against Temple, mind you, because I’m too emotionally invested in the games. If the Owls are underdogs by four and lose by three, I won’t get any particular joy in collecting 50 bucks because I’d still be pissed at the loss. That said, Temple has been the best team against the spread for the past 14 years so gambling in 18 new states could make this team very popular on a national level like never before. Thirty years of mostly losing before Al Golden took over took its toll from a perception point of view and a decade or so probably won’t change that.

Still, one of the things I’ve noticed about Vegas is that they don’t do nearly as much homework on the G5 slate as they do the P5 one. If you follow the G5 more than casually, you can probably clean up. It might lead to extra national interest in the G5 and that can only be a good thing.

We will get to test that theory in Pennsylvania and New Jersey most likely by the fall.

Wednesday: Bonding in Tokyo