In an interview in something called The Chronicle for Higher Education (yeah, I never heard of it, either), Temple University president Neil D. Theobald discussed the negotiations between his school and the Philadelphia Eagles. Basically, he says the Eagles’ are trying to raise the rent for his football team because they think there are no other places for the Owls to play. Then he suddenly drops a F-bomb.
No, not that F-bomb but another one: Franklin Field. (That’s a double F-bomb, but who’s counting?)
Temple fans who read that must have immediately spit up their coffee and said, “Whoa Nellie!” Anyone who has followed Temple football for as long as I have knows one thing about that F-Bomb: No league that aspires to being a Power 5 Conference like the AAC does would ever play a game there. No self-respecting major college football team, which presumably Temple is, would ever play a game there.
Yet Theobald mentioned Temple returning to Franklin Field, where it had played many forgettable past games, as an option.
That Theobald would ever use the name Franklin Field as a possible venue for his team represents a disconnect between the Temple president, who has only been on the job for two years, and the realities of present-day college football. Theobald came to Temple from Indiana, where he was the chief bean counter (otherwise known as the CFO). Sorry, big-time college football is no place to count beans and cut costs. You’ve got to spend money to make money.
For the past decade, Temple has played in arguably the nicest football stadium in the country, the $521 million home to the Eagles called Lincoln Financial Field. The stadium has great sight lines, seats right on top of the action (no track surrounding the football field), comfortable seating, plenty of amenities like restrooms and concessions for all of the fans to enjoy.
To ask Temple fans to go back to the 100-year-old Franklin Field, which has none of that, is going to make selling tickets an almost impossible job. Heck, you are asking your fans — the male ones, at least — to pee in a trough. No thanks, Neil.
Theobald might be forgetting why Temple got kicked out of the Big East the first time. The Owls did not have control of their home stadium on Saturdays. Their current contract with the Eagles gives them control over Lincoln Financial Field on Saturdays. They would forfeit that control to Penn if they moved to Franklin Field.
Then there’s the issue of recruiting. Temple has gotten numerous recruits who say “it’ll be really cool to play in that great stadium, the one the Eagles play in.” With all due respect to Penn, no big-time recruit has even heard of Franklin Field.
In the business world, there’s a universal standard for progress for top organizations and employees called up or out. If you don’t improve as an employee, you are out. If you move to another building, it better be a nicer building or forget about it. That same standard has to apply to Temple football or the Owls are doomed.