Temple should drop football.
It's embarrassing. It serves no purpose. What exactly is the point? This is a program that was then kicked out of a major conference (Big East) basically because it stunk.
|Walter Mebane and the Temple defense couldn't get a grip on Louisville. (AP)|
"I just don't see how they could get prepared to play a team like us," Louisville linebacker Nate Harris said after a 62-0 victory over the Owls on Saturday. "I told them after the game, 'Keep pushing. You never know who is watching you.'"
In other words, transferring is always an option.
And there's the really bad stuff ...
Al Golden has heard it before. Nine months after the former Penn State tight end took the job, they're still asking him why. One of the hottest prospects in the country chose to start -- and maybe end -- his head coaching career in this coaching graveyard.
"I only had resistance from one person," said Golden, 37.
He refuses to identify that person. No use in calling into question two reputations, right?
We, the sporting press, should be busy writing about actual football during this week, the most compelling of the season.
But compelling cuts both ways. And this week, it's hard to ignore the Owls.
Maybe it's compassion. Maybe it's morbid curiosity.
Maybe it's going to work.
"Trust me, I know everyone is saying, 'You got killed,'" Golden said. "I can see around the bend. That's what I'm building toward."
You've heard stuff like that before at every downtrodden program. You're skeptical. The bend is littered with fan apathy, 16 true freshmen who have seen the field (most in I-A) and little hope. But if you look close the bend also has some bread crumbs, a small way out if absolutely everything goes right.
Facilities don't necessarily translate into victories (see the current state of Texas A&M), but Temple has $400 million worth of brick and mortar going up. The school itself is on the brink of the top 25 (26th largest university in the country). There is a slow evolution from being a commuter campus to a residential one.
Which is important if you actually want -- you know -- fans to identify with your football program.
Leaving the Big East was actually a blessing once the trustees decided to keep fielding a team. Given time and a few recruiting classes, Temple might someday be able to actually, gulp, win in the mid-major Mid-American Conference.
The Big East it ain't, which means that seven weeks into the job, it was possible for Golden to sign what some rated the best recruiting class in the MAC. Temple already has the most current NFL players of any MAC team (10). The Owls can chase one of the three conference bowl bids once they serve this season as a I-A independent.
So when Golden hears the "drop football" whispers he arches his back a little.
"All the people that respected me as a recruiter and a coach at least owe me the opportunity to turn this program around," said the country's fourth-youngest coach. "I didn't take this on a whim."
Sometimes, though, you just want to scream: Prove it!
The coach with the masters in psychology might have to employ the Vulcan mind meld to convince his players to follow him around that bend.
After an 0-2 start, a 16th consecutive losing season is all but assured. Temple had its chance in the opener but lost to just-as-bad Buffalo in overtime. There are joyrides still left to Minnesota, Clemson and Penn State.
The NCAA has had its pound of flesh, ripping a Division I-A-worst nine scholarships as a penalty for sub-par performance under the new Academic Progress Rate guidelines.
That suggests in the past everyone was onboard in the academic catastrophe: trustees, coaches, athletic director, compliance, the janitor.
And Golden still came -- providing a loving home, if nothing else.
Quarterback Adam DiMichele transferred from Okaloosa-Walton County (Fla.) junior college where he was last seen pitching and playing outfield.
Two Iraq war vets have walked on. One could be called back to active duty at any moment.
You figure, though, that if Temple is going to make it, Golden is going to need more players like Mike Holley.
The senior receiver endured the death of his mother from multiple sclerosis when he was in fifth grade. Two years ago, he was next to a friend who was shot in a Washington, D.C. club.
One month later Holley got a call walking off the practice field. His father died suddenly of a heart attack. That same year, a week before the 2004 opener Holley found out he was academically eligible.
Somehow Holley made it to this point as a fifth-year senior. The fact that he has four catches in two games is less impressive than -- like his coach -- he is at Temple.
"It takes a lot for me to quit," Holley told the Philadelphia Daily News.
Maybe Golden's message is getting through.
For the rest of the national notes, read Dennis Dodd's Wednesday blog.