In Philadelphia its slim pickings when it comes to college football. With plenty of schools located in the city not many are division 1 schools while that ones that are usually aren’t very goods. Penn shows their pride of course and while Villanova did win the sub division championship last season it’s just that, a subdivision championship. No one really pays attention to the sub division teams, and they certainly could care less about the football it produces.
This results in most Philadelphians choosing two allegiances. The first is the Nittany Lions of Penn State led by Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno. The second is the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. While Penn State is located in the state of Pennsylvania Notre Dame is not.
Most fans only like the school because of their name. They feel it is their Irish duty to cheer for a team named after their heritage. A school they will never attend, and probably never visit. Notre Dame Fans are great because they never like to admit that while their team is full of five star recruits, they never produce and are constantly over rated. Take solace Notre Dame fans because you have you have the advantages of being an independent school coming up with tough battles of Tulsa and Navy in the upcoming weeks. The Irish by the way are 2-3 and were ranked #62 in the polls before their recent win against Boston College.
Penn State meanwhile is the main team that is supported in the city of brotherly love. Joe Pa is God in these parts and to say wrong about him is enough to get you tar and feathered. Unlike Notre Dame though Penn State plays in the Big 10 and is constantly playing good teams throughout the year. However they too seem to be more bark than bite going 3-2 so far this season while managing to be ranked 22 in the country. A loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes however will most likely drop them out of the polls.
So here are the two teams that Philadelphians bow down too. The two schools that no matter what should always be ranked. Notre Dame, a 2-3 record, and Penn State sporting a 3-2 record. But there is a school, which is actually located in Philadelphia that has a better record than both teams. I introduce you to the 4-1 Temple Owls.
Penn State fans are immediately crying foul. “THAT ONE LOSS WAS AGAINST JOE PA!” They will scream and they are absolutely correct. In week 4 the Temple Owls went in to Happy Valley and lost 22-12 against a then ranked 23rd best team in the nation. But if Penn State fans are going to cry foul on this one I ask a question to them. Really?
Temple has always been a laughing stock in the city of Philadelphia. The team got kicked out of the Big East conference in 2004 and left for dead. But Temple got a savior in current head coach Al Golden. Golden’s predecessor Bobby Wallace was awful. He failed to recruit, at all, and could never seem to put together a winning team. Golden had to change to attitude of how the public felt about Temple and he has done just that.
Through scouting combines, and just flat out hard work, he has convinced good recruits to suit up on North Broad. It’s not an easy task when you consider what his pitch was to these recruits in his first recruiting year. “Hi I’m a brand new head coach of a school that has a laughing stock of a football team. We are located in the murder capital of the United States and the school is located in a bad area. The good news is we play in Lincoln Financial Field but it’s usually in front of about 1500 to 2000 fans. So what do you say? Wanna be an Owl?” Amazingly Al Golden has turned this team around, and turned them into a contender.
That brings me back to the Penn State game. Yes Temple is still improving and every year they are getting more and more three star recruits. But Temple cannot compete for prospects on the level that a Penn State can. Last season Penn State signed 12 four star recruits including true freshman quarter back Rob Bolden who was the #2 ranked QB prospect in the nation. This isn’t rare for the Nittany Lions because every year they are getting top notch recruits.
Temple was winning for a lot of that game against Penn State. A defense filled with guys that Joe Paterno wouldn’t give the time of day did a great job of keeping Penn State in check, in Happy Valley. Temple lost star RB Bernard Pierce for the game and QB Chester Stewart got interception happy but the win was a statement and not a fluke.
That was Temple’s only loss this season and no one who watched that game will tell you they weren’t impressed by Al Golden’s squad. They also beat the subdivision champs, Villanova, to start the season in dramatic fashion. Solid win considering Nova is being invited to join the Big East, the same conference that kicked Temple out. They also beat the former MAC champs Central Michigan in an OT thriller that shouldn’t have been as close as it was. Costly penalties cost the Owls a win in regulation. They took out UConn, the team that replaced Temple in the Big East, and recently beat Army in a game where they didn’t look good but still left with the win.
That leaves Temple with 4-1 record, their best since 1979. Yet they still seem to get no respect in the city of Philadelphia. People keep looking at Temple as the laughing stock that they were and not the bowl contenders that they are. Last season Temple lost a heart breaker to UCLA in the Eagle Bank bowl and with two more wins they will be bowl eligible again. They are the favorites to take the MAC title this year led by RB Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown, LB Peanut Joseph, and FS Jaquan Jarrett. All except Brown are NFL Prospects.
The Owls are currently 38 in the polls and with the win against Army they could be moving up. There is no reason to think that the Temple Owls, that just a four season ago won only one game, could be ranked by season’s end. So next Saturday when you’re looking for a team to root for, try to local team. Not the team that’s campus is in the middle of Pennsylvania, or the one that’s located in Indiana, but the team that is located on North Broad street in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. They are 4-1 and looking to be ranked, a feat that Notre Dame will fall short of this season. Al Golden has done a hell of a job, so take notice Philly.