Temple expects better results in Big East sequel
The Big East preseason poll was released, and there were the
Temple Owls, picked to finish in last place.
It was like 2004 all over again. Or 2003. Or 1995 and 1996.
Heck, pick any season the Owls played in the Big East their
first time around and the odds are strong that one of the worst
programs in college football history would be buried at the bottom
of the conference standings.
The Big East had plenty of strong reasons to shove Temple out
the door almost a decade ago. But there are just as many factors
why the conference reversed course and put out the welcome mat in
The Owls return to the Big East for the first time since 2004,
not, as the media poll would suggest, as the same pushovers that
put the program on the brink of extinction.
Under second-year coach Steve Addazio, these Owls are for real.
These Owls are proven winners.
”I always felt this would happen for us,” Addazio said. ”It
was a natural fit. The program was in the right direction for it to
happen. It was really, honestly, the right thing to do. It should
have happened, and it did.”
Bring on Pittsburgh and Syracuse and Louisville. Just forget
about those 62-0 losses.
There’s a heavy dose of optimism around the team thanks to a
string of three straight winning seasons, two bowls over that span,
and unanimous support of the program from the top of the
administration on down to the deep-pocketed boosters.
Oh, and don’t forget Addazio, a high-energy motivator, rallying
the team with his ”Vitamin Addazio” speeches.
He vowed the dark days at Temple are over.
”We had a run that wasn’t very productive for a while,”
Addazio said. ”It just all come together negatively at one point
Talk about an understatement. The Owls had 10 seasons of one or
two victories spanning their Big East years of 1991-2004. The Owls
were evicted from the Big East after 13 years for failing to meet
minimum requirements for membership, most notably in attendance,
facilities and fielding a competitive team.
Forget getting voted out of the Big East, the Owls were almost
voted out of Temple.
The team received a second life in 2004 when a panel decided by
one vote to keep the program alive. Temple Athletic Director Bill
Bradshaw worked an arrangement to get the Owls in the Mid-American
Conference, but not before suffering more lean seasons.
The Owls found misery in two seasons as an independent – a 1-22
record, that included a 1-11 mark in former coach Al Golden’s first
season in 2006.
But Golden rallied the Owls in the MAC to four wins, then five.
Golden led them to a 9-4 record in 2009 for the first winning
record since 1990 and their first bowl game since 1979. Golden left
for Miami a year later and Addazio, plucked from Urban Meyer’s
staff at Florida, kept the transformation alive with a 9-4 season
and a win in the New Mexico Bowl.
With the Big East on life support, as members defected, and with
no long-term TV deal in place, the conference needed new members in
Enter a revitalized Temple.
The school bolted the MAC for a fresh start in the Big East for
football this season and all other sports in 2013. Temple’s other
programs, including men’s basketball, will remain in the Atlantic
10 this year.
”We’ve had a buzz since I got here and it hasn’t slowed down,”
The university is putting the finishing touches on a $10
million, 15,000-square-foot expansion and refurbishment of the
Up next, it’s time to decorate.
Addazio is putting his national championship rings from Florida
in a trophy case to wow recruits and Temple’s bowl trophy will find
a new home. Bradshaw said solid plans are in place for an indoor
practice facility and the Owls remain locked in to playing at the
home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.
The Owls originally hoped home games at Lincoln Financial Field
would help attract top recruits. With the rare exception of Penn
State helping to pack the place, crowds are thin, and the dreary
atmosphere can sap the fun out of what the Owls envision as a
lively, 30,000-fan, home-field advantage.
”There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that if we continue to
play well and win,” Addazio said, ”the fan base will keep rising
The coach also said, in three years, he’d, ”be surprised if
this isn’t a 35- to 40,000-a-game deal.”
This season will be tough, though. There are no expected
victories like in the MAC days and there’s a concerning lack of
depth. The Owls only return nine starters. Quarterback Chris Coyer
was selected the New Mexico Bowl’s offensive MVP, and Matt Brown
and Montel Harris form a talented backfield, but there’s not much
Before the Big East kicks off, the Owls open the season Aug. 31
against Villanova in the annual Mayor’s Cup game. Then it’s Sept. 8
vs. Maryland and a Sept. 22 game at Penn State, before the Owls
play South Florida in their first Big East game since a 34-17 loss
to Boston College on Nov. 20, 2004.
”I’m not delusional, I know it’s going to be tough,” Addazio
said. ”But I know we’ve got a group of guys that, if we’re
healthy, we’ll compete.”