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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Temple Owls Stand Tall, Fade at the Finish

The Temple Owls' football team figured it would have a big advantage yesterday in the EagleBank Bowl against UCLA. No, it wasn't the presence of Temple alum Bill Cosby, but the cold mid-Atlantic weather that saw a 4:30 game played in frigid weather.

That advantage worked for a half. The Owls came out of the gate hot, led by 21-10 at the half and were playing well enough on both sides of the ball to win the game.

They just couldn't finish what they started. Their wunderkind running back Bernard Pierce got hurt and missed the second half, and their starting QB, Vaughn Charlton, made too many of the type of mistake that caused head coach Al Golden to sit him down for the last four regular season games. Atop that, the Owls' defense looked a bit light (as in light enough to get pushed out of the way frequently enough to lose), and in the last 6 minutes the chariot that people thought Temple football was this season (and I still do) turned into a pumpkin. 31-20, UCLA.

I watched the entire game and enjoyed almost all of it. As readers of this blog know, my father played a little for the Owls a long time ago, and I spent much of my youth watching the Owls play on Saturdays, watching quarterbacks like John Waller, Tommy DeFelice, Marty Ginestra and Steve Joachim, to name a few. Yes, I saw Wayne Coleman play linebacker, Chris Fletcher play defensive back, Jim Cooper play offensive line, Randy Grossman play tight end and Joe Klecko play defensive line. Among many others. More importantly, I went with my dad, who was a very busy guy, and it was something that we did together.

My father's been dead for over two decades. While I haven't followed Temple football as closely as I did when he was alive, I always check the box scores and read the write-ups, hoping against all hope that the Owls could have a winning season (and, perhaps at some point, find their Holy Grail by beating Penn State, an event which would rival the parting of the Red Sea). This year, they had their winning season and made their first bowl appearance in 3 decades (they beat Cal in the Garden State Bowl in 1979 -- and we were there -- on a day about as cold as yesterday's match-up against UCLA). Sure, they still have to beat Penn State, but I am patient enough to take one piece of good news at a time.

Nothing can bring my father back, but yesterday's appearance by the Owls in a bowl game brought back vivid memories of good times that I shared with him. It was too bad that the Owls couldn't win the game, but getting there for a team with as bad a recent history as that of the Owls was quite the accomplishment. Al Golden is building a tough program in Philadelphia, and next year I look forward to more success on the gridiron.

And to recall more fond memories.


Blogger Temple Football Forever said...

good stuff, as always, prof ... but it was 30-21, not 31-20. 30-21 is bad enough but that wasn't a true indicator of how close this game was.
After 1979, Temple went 4-7 in 80 because Hardin could not bridge the gap from Brian Broomell to Tim Riordan (Tink Murphy was in between).
That won't happen next year as Chris Coyer (who held an Ohio State offer in his hands the night he signed with Temple) is a stone-cold stud.
Gotta give Golden props for giving this kid his redshirt freshman year and not forcing him into the fray a tad too soon.

1:56 PM  

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