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

 

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FIU: Looking In The Mirror

fiustadium

FIU fans have seen a stadium rendering;  (most) Temple fans have not.

If Florida International’s football program looks familiar in the Gasparilla Bowl on  Dec. 21, Temple fans might be onto something.

In many ways, it will be like looking into a mirror.

Here are 5 similarities:

  1. Both the Owls and the Panthers are located in major cities and have similar missions, educating the poor and middle class and paving the way for upward mobility.

2. Both teams have stadiums at least on the drawing board. Only major contributors have seen artist renderings of the proposed new Temple Football 35,000-seat stadium, while everyone in Miami has seen the plans for the new FIU stadium (artist rendering above), a 25,000-seat expansion of the current Raymond Silva Stadium on campus.

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Collins getting his FIU swag on

3. The last time FIU hoisted a bowl-winning trophy Geoff Collins was on the field. Collins was the defensive coordinator of a FIU team that won the 2010 Beef O’Brady Bowl. (Hopefully, that happenstance will not be repeated this year.) Seeing Collins in that FIU uniform is just another reminder that his family is used to more moves than an Army officer’s family and that he probably won’t be here for long either.

4. Both programs play second-, third- and fourth-fiddle to other football programs in the same market. For FIU, the Panthers have to struggle for space in the newspaper with two Miamis (Hurricanes and Dolphins). For the Owls, it usually page nine of a Sunday paper that only seems to have eight pages of Eagles’ coverage.

5. Both teams have beaten and lost to the same opponent this year.  Central Florida crushed the Panthers (61-17) and the Owls (46-19); Panthers beat UMass (61-33) as did the Owls (29-21).

Monday: The Year In FIU football

TU Bowl Motto: Let’s Win This Bad Boy

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Tailgate areas are at the top of this photo

Other than knowing the geography every nook and cranny of Philadelphia, the Tampa/St. Pete area is the one I am most familiar with on the planet.

If I could live there, I would. That’s pretty much why I play the lottery a couple of times a week.

Great weather a dozen months a year and no driving in the snow. I know. I spent nearly 20 springs there, covering the Philadelphia Phillies for a suburban daily and going down on my own in the years I was not on assignment.

fiusked

This is a team Geoff Collins should beat

Can’t beat it. From Dale Mabry Boulevard to the Howard Franklin Bridge, the driving is easy and the people are laid back and happy. There are plenty of Philadelphia transplants, lured by the appeal of the Phillies being in town for February and March and plenty of Eagles’ bars down there.

So the Temple Owls will live in St. Pete/Clearwater for at least a week, getting an invitation to the Gasparilla Bad Boy Mowers Bowl (Dec., 21, 8 p.m., ESPN).

It should be a fun week.

This time, though, the focus should be on winning. It is the only game on national TV that day and the national perceptions of Temple football will be formed in bars from Salem, Oregon to Salem, Massachusetts.

The Owls’ lone motto from today on out should be: “Let’s Win This Bad Boy.”

If Matt Rhule were to get on the horn with his good friend Geoff Collins, he’d give the first-year coach this advice:

“Geoff, I wanted our Florida bowl to be a reward for our kids so we went heavy on the air hockey, the bowling, the beach volleyball and even a trip to the Everglades. What I didn’t do enough of was game prep and we got our asses handed to us by a good Toledo team. Don’t make the same mistake I made. Go very light on the tourist stuff and very heavy on the game prep. Make it like a regular week at the E-O.”

If that were truly Rhule’s advice—and we suspect it would be—the Owls will be much better off. Look at it this way: From a national perception standpoint, the Temple football brand (Temple TUFF?) takes a huge hit if it loses to Florida International. There’s a big difference between finishing 6-7 and trending downward after back-to-back 10-win seasons and 7-6 and trending upward by winning four of the last five games. It’ll be pretty hard to sell things like “The Standard, Money Downs and Swag” coming off a 6-7 season. In fact, it will sound damn hollow.

Plus, there is the added incentive of doing something those double-digit-win Temple teams did not do: Celebrate the last game of the season by hoisting a bowl trophy. They had to watch two teams do that the past two years at their expense.

So let’s win this bad boy and wash that nasty taste out of our mouths. There’s no easy formula to accomplish that, but hard practices would be a good place to start.

Wednesday: Ridiculousness

Friday: Closer Look at FIU