Temple Set To Party Like It's 1979

Mike GibsonCorrespondent IDecember 5, 2009

Temple head coach Al Golden passed on word today that Sunday will be party time.

The university is holding a bowl selection announcement party at the Liacouras Center on Sunday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 PM.

Golden and his football team will be there, so will many of its fans, sitting in front of the TV and waiting for their name to be drawn just like the Temple basketball team has done or so many other selection Sundays.

It will be a party unlike anything the university has seen since 1979, which was the last time the Owls made a bowl game.

Hopefully, guys like Bobby Bernardo and Joe Klecko and Wayne Hardin will be able to make it.

Bernardo was a linebacker on the last Temple team to win 10 games in a row and, in 1973, he was a sophomore starting linebacker when the Owls won eight-straight games. The star on that team was a nose guard named Joe Klecko, who would later gain fame as an All-Pro with the New York Jets. A photo of Klecko and then Temple coach Hardin accompanies this story.

Bernardo took time out to recall those years when a guest on the Bob Rovner radio program recently.

"We were supposed to go to the Tangerine Bowl," Bernardo said, "but that was the year of the gas shortage and they were worried about their being enough gas for the fans on cars and planes and they picked Florida State instead. There were only about eight bowls in those days.

"We were 9-1. Florida State was 5-5, but they were closer so they were picked."
Such is the history of Temple's near-misses in bowl games.

In 1990, the 7-4 Owls were one of six teams wooed by the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl but they picked a 6-5 Maryland team instead.
"They (the Poulan Weed-Eaters) made the mistake, we didn't," quarterback Matty Baker said.

The Owls are looking at two primary options right now.

1) They have a good shot of taking the ACC's unoccupied spot in the Eagle Bank Bowl in Washington, D.C.

2) They are a lock for the International Bowl in Toronto if they don't.
If I had to handicap it right now, I would say 60 percent chance for Eagle Bank and 40 percent chance for Toronto.

The party will be for this wonderful team that won nine straight, but it will also be for guys like Bobby Bernardo, too.

"Ever since I can remember, my dad (Bill, the former Northeast High coach) was taking me to Temple games," Bobby said. "That since 1957. I've been going all these years and I can't tell you how wonderful it's been to go to the games this season."

Bernardo was on one of about five Wayne Hardin squads which deserved to go to bowl games, but never did.

College football has never been about getting the best teams in bowls, but bringing the teams with the  most fans. That's why the cycle of the same teams being good all the time has been perpetuated ad naseum.

Other teams deserve a shot to be good, too, and get rewards like bowl games.
Temple did its part to break that corrupt cycle this year and now awaits its reward.
The Owls won't be passed over this time and that's one of the advantages of being in a conference.

Party on, Wayne's boys.