Temple schedule 2011: A return to normalcy

11:20 Cholis Back 0 Comments

Team exhales after holding their breaths for 60 minutes. This year, they should breathe easier.

Last year when the Temple football schedule was announced, I said I thought I never saw a physically and more psychologically challenging schedule.
The reason was that, right off the bat, the Owls faced a potentially season-ruining game in the first outing, the Mayor's Cup against Villanova. Then they had to establish credibility in the MAC with a win over Central Michigan, then they had a revenge game against UConn and then the Holy Grail game (potentially program-defining win) against Penn State.

Temple 2011 Schedule
Date Opponent

Thur., Sept. 1 VILLANOVA, 7 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 10 *at Akron
Sat., Sept. 17 PENN STATE
Sat., Sept. 24 at Maryland
Sat., Oct. 1 *TOLEDO
Sat., Oct. 8 *at Ball State
Sat., Oct. 15 *BUFFALO [HC]
Sat., Oct. 22 *at Bowling Green
Sat., Oct. 29 BYE
Wed., Nov. 2 *at Ohio
Wed., Nov. 9 *MIAMI (Ohio)
Sat., Nov. 19 ARMY
Fri., Nov. 25 *KENT STATE
Fri., Dec. 2: MAC Championship Detroit, Mich

What a gauntlet 2010 was, starting with the pressure-cooker game with Villanova.
Lose that, like in 2009, and you lose the fan base for the entire season.
I must have had 200 Temple fans come up to me in the parking lot after that last-second loss to Villanova saying essentially the same thing:
"I'm not coming back. .. Al Golden is a fraud... ...talks a big game but doesn't deliver ... same old Temple ..."
Well, Al Golden wasn't a fraud but about 199 of those Temple fans kept their word.
The only guy who came back was my friend, Tom, who kicked a car so hard cursing at Golden that he nearly broke his foot.
The others I never saw again.
I wrote at the time that I couldn't blame them because to lose to Villanova, no matter how good the Wildcats were in 2009, was losing credibility in your hometown.
I've always said that Temple has a "hardcore" fan base of about 20K, who will be there through thick and thin. I've always said that Temple has a "soft core" fan base of about 20K more waiting for a reason to believe. So many of them lost that reason to believe that night.
They gained a measure of it back in the win last season, but I had a sense that the team and their fans were biting their fingernails the whole night fretting about the outcome.
Instead of punching Villanova silly and enjoying their physical superiority, the team played like it was walking on eggshells.
I want to see the Temple swagger back against Villanova this year.
That's what it will take to get the Temple fan base back.
Beat the crap out of Villanova, then beat the crap out of Akron and then have a confident swagger going into Maryland and Penn State games.
It will take a lot to get the softcore fans back, like a win over both Villanova and Penn State.
That's why I like this schedule.
There's a return to normalcy.
That's why the opener meant everything last year.
Don't get me wrong. The opener means a lot this year, too but I don't see the same kind of pressure.
Last year, Villanova had 16 starters returning from a national championship team and, unlike Temple, a championship quarterback.
Villanova loses that quarterback, plus its greatest playmaker since Brian Westbrook. Villanova also loses 16 starters.
Temple returns 13 starters and a lot of the replacements look more talented than some of the losses (Big Mo notwithstanding).
I see the Villanova game this year not as a pressure-cooker, but as a jumping off point to a great season.
I see a big win, a confidence builder, that could lead to bigger wins down the line.
At least that is the way it should play out..