Just like thoughts on thousands of message boards on college football fan sites across the country, the idea was thrown out there like a high-hanging curve ball:
“I love that (Temple) is in the American Athletic Conference (with) 11 members in 2014 and Navy joins in 2015,” the Temple football fan wrote. It did not take more than a split second before that curve ball was slammed into the upper deck by another fan: “It won’t matter if we don’t win.”
The original poster noted from wearing Cherry and White-colored glasses countered with his belief that the Owls will win.
That’s precisely the point because all 10 other fan groups have die-hards who believe just as strongly that their team will win as strongly as the Temple fan does but the difference is that this is the year the rest of the nation finds out just how serious the school is about winning in football.
The school made a huge leap of faith in hiring career assistant coach Matt Rhule despite having a number of coaches with head-coaching experience apply for the job, most notably Temple grad and current Arizona Cardinals’ defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and former Florida International head coach Mario Cristobal. Bowles was 3-1 as an interim head coach with the Miami Dolphins in 2011 and is believed to be the only man with NFL head-coaching experience ever to apply for the same position at Temple.
Yet Temple was talked into hiring Rhule because he was well-liked by the players due to an earlier stint as an assistant to former Owl coaches Al Golden and Steve Addazio. The first year (2-10) did not go well and his supporters pointed to the fact that Rhule was putting in a new system even though 16 starters returned from the four-win 2012 team. Included in those 10 were losses to the worst team in the FBS (Idaho), a then 0-9 FBS team (Uconn) and a FCS team (Fordham).
Still, an argument can be made there is more pressure to win at Temple than the other 10 AAC schools because the administration dropped seven sports, ostensibly to support their investment in football. There is talk of the school building an on-campus stadium, but the fact that no announcement has been made could be an indication that the school’s Board of Trustees is hedging their bets based on the results of the upcoming season. After all, if the administration doesn’t see a return on its football investment, what’s to stop it from doing to football what it did to seven other sports?
While it might be exciting for some fans just to be a member of the AAC in football, this is the year the Owls must show significant progress in the only area that matters, winning, and the stakes are higher for them than they are for their conference mates.