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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Self-Righteousness Surrounding Al Golden at Temple

Why were so many Temple fans upset when UCLA was talking to Owls' head football coach Al Golden about the possibility of replacing Karl Dorrell as the head coach at UCLA?

Coaches move all the time, and Temple hadn't found a successor to Wayne Hardin until, well, Al Golden. Bruce Arians, Jerry Berndt, Ron Dickerson and Bobby Wallace all failed, most miserably. Hardin, a clever game coach who coached Heisman winners Roger Staubach and Joe Bellino at Navy, also was good at recruiting the Philadelphia Public and Parochial Leagues, the coal country of Pennsylvania and South Jersey. He gave Penn State fits a few times in the 1970's and did an excellent job on North Broad Street.

After Hardin, the program sank, almost into oblivion. They became a perennial DI doormat until a) the Owl left the Big East (okay, they really were ejected), b) they joined the Mid-American Conference and c) they hired Golden, a Penn State alum from Central Jersey who was the defensive coordinator at UVA. What a pedigree! What energy! And, seemingly, the Owls are on their way back, having put together two good recruiting years (and they're en route to a third).

Now, Temple isn't, say, Rutgers (at least not yet), and if you were a Rutgers' fan you would get upset with the prospect of a Greg Schiano talking with UCLA. Why? Because, believe it or not, the Bruins' job might not be a step up, especially when you're more known as a hoops school and you have USC in your backyard. But if you're a Temple fan, you have to understand why an Al Golden would talk to UCLA. It is a step up, has a better tradition, and is a pretty good job (and, yes, a much better job than the Temple one currently is).

Still, some Temple fans expressed their disappointment in the Philadelphia papers that Golden would look for another job. I was surprised to read of some of the rancor. Sure, Temple fans would be disappointed, because Golden has done a great job. But angry, expressing feelings of betrayal? Get over yourselves, and, at the same time, feel flattered that your once-dying program has quickly earned enough national respect for its head coach to get considered for a very good job. That says something about Al Golden and the job he's done for Temple.

Temple fans also had better get used to this type of attention. Golden isn't 40 yet, and if Temple has a .500 year or better next year, Golden will have done an (even more) amazing job in a very short time on North Broad Street. So much so that he could be a contender for a bigger job, much bigger. He's a Penn State alum, and Joe Paterno is 81, and there isn't a logical successor for JoePa (not Tom Bradley in State College, not Schiano, not Cal's Jeff Tedford). If Golden has a few more good years, who knows? Ditto UVA, where he coached the defense so ably. Head coach Al Groh isn't so young, either.

But this is a good thing for Temple fans. The attention Al Golden is getting means the program is in better shape, that the head coaching job is no longer the Last Chance Hotel of DI football and is much more attractive a position, and that the college football world thinks Temple can ably compete in the MAC. All very, very good.

I have been a Temple football fan since I can remember. My father played football for the Owls for a few years, and I recall going to many a game, first at Temple Stadium off Cheltenham Avenue in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia, and then at Vet Stadium. I recall them playing before sellout crowds against Penn State, once at Penn's Franklin Field and the other at Veterans Stadium and a night game against West Virginia at Temple Stadium where they upset the Mountaineers and the players carried Coach Hardin off the field (this was pre-Gatorade shower time), and I recall seeing a cornucopia of good football players -- quarterbacks John Waller, Tommy De Felice, Steve Joachim and Marty Ginestra (an Earl Morrall-like relief QB if there ever was one), running backs like Henry Hynoski and Anthony Anderson, wide receivers like Jim Callahan and Steve Watson, offensive linemen like Skip Singletary, Jim Cooper and Joe Nedney, kicker Nick Mike-Mayer and punter Casey Murphy, defensive linemen like Joe Klecko, linebackers like Wayne Coleman and defensive backs like Chris Fletcher and Todd Bowles. Most of those guys played in the NFL, and under Hardin they thought they could beat everyone.

My father's been dead for a while and I live far enough away that I don't get to games, but I always find myself checking the scores on ESPN and in the papers, hoping that the Owls won. They remain an important connection for me to my father's memory, and I'm sure that he'd be flattered that a school like UCLA was interested in his team's coach.

It's about time.


Blogger Marc said...

Hey SportsProf,
Like you, I'm a long time Temple fan, going to games since I was 5. Who can forget the 10-9 loss to Pitt the year we went to the Garden State Bowl. And while I disagree with you about the Bruce Arians era (the teams were good, the scheduling was ridiculous), I completely agree with you about Al Golden. We should be happy that Al is getting looks from other schools because it means we are getting better. What most of our fans forget is that College Football is a business, and Al has to do whats best for him and his family. The reality is that sports fans have short memories. All will be forgotten when we win our opener next season.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say why the indignation and you don't cite examples of the indignation. Not very professorial, in my humble opinion.

6:16 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

Thanks, Marc, for your comments. Welcome to the blog!

As for you, Anonymous, please re-read the fifth paragraph. There were quotes in the Phila. Inquirer from Temple alums who expressed outrage at Golden's talking with UCLA. I thought it was irrational, and perhaps the Inky was digging for a story where there was none, but those expressions were there.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Originally posted by the sports prof:
"Still, some Temple fans expressed their disappointment in the Philadelphia papers that Golden would look for another job. "
FANS? It was one fan, Dave "Fizzy" Weinraub. You used the word "fans" ... I fail to see the evidence of more than one fan expressing outrage. It was just one letter to one newspaper. I can't find another fan expressing outrage anywhere on the internet or in any other publication.

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I also don't buy the remark about Bruce Arians, who had two 6-5 seasons, one against the 10th toughest schedule in the country. Think about it. Temple having a 6-5 record against the 10th toughest schedule in the country. Temple. A remarkable, remarkable achievement by Bruce Arians. Did I say remarkable?

10:44 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Hey Mike,
I agree with you about Bruce Arians. Who could forget Lee Saltz to Willie Marshall deep on the first, second or third play of the game, Paul Palmer's record day against William and Mary, and our O-Line, The Heavy Medal Society. Bruce just couldn't complete playing Alabama, Florida and Penn State every week. One season, we opened by loosing to BC, Penn St. and defending national champ BYU by a total of 8 points. People called us the best 0-3 team in the country.

As for anonymous, all you need to do is check the posting boards on to see how people reacted when they heard of Coach Golden. I can also tell you that at the last basketball game, boosters were saying we should kick Golden out.

12:17 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

Thanks, Marc and Mike.

I have to disagree about Bruce Arians though. First, he came in with high expectations, anointed by Bear Bryant. Second, he was 22-44 in 6 years, with an 0-11 season in the middle. He had his chance, and it's hard to argue with the numbers.

It's great to see so many Temple fans pumped up about the prospects of Temple football.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Arians was really more like 28 and 38 ... uni forfeited the games on their own; they were won on field. PP's signing with an agent was immaterial and NCAA would not have demanded TU forfeit those games.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

Yeah, it was really disgraceful how the University handled the whole Paul Palmer thing. If you remember, it came out that the "agent" that Paul Palmer "signed" with did it by threatening Paul and his family and several others players. He ended up going to jail (the "agent") and the University rightfully restored all of Paul's records. Unfortunately, you can't take the forfeits back though.

As a side note, I ran into Paul at one of the home games this last season. Not only is he one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, he still looks like he could play.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Temple Football Forever said...

I agree Boo-Boo is a great guy. Arians' two 6-5 seasons against that brutal backdrop of a schedule with only a rock-strewn grass practice field as "facilities" (astroturf Geasey in those days was mostly used by the minor sports squads) remain as one of the truly incredible achievements in big-time college football history.
Temple would never have been in trouble had they kept the 35-year-old Arians. Right now, at 54, he's about 20 years younger than the guy who led this year's Owls to a bowl win (Florida Atlantic's Howard Schnellenberger).

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Hi Sports Prof:
Just found your blog a week or so ago when Bill Bradshaw, the Temple AD, emailed me your link. I was wondering if we could exchange links?
(I would do this by email, but you don't seem to have one on your profile.)
I would like to be listed above the dreaded UC Bearcats, at least.
Here's my link:
You can just call it Temple Football Forever
Mike Gibson
Editor and Publisher, TUFBF

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