Temple Fans Buying into Al Golden's Message of Hope

Mike Gibson@paprepsCorrespondent IDecember 25, 2009

Every morning for the past month or so, I've gotten up and wiped the sand from my eyes, stretched a little bit and sprinted to the door for the morning paper.

I quickly thumbed to the second sports page and checked the bowl pairings.

There it was.

I wasn't dreaming after all.

Thirty years of being bowl-less will play mind games with a person's psyche.

Temple's football team is in a bowl game and the opponent, geez, is UCLA.


It's not in Idaho or Kansas, either.

It's in D.C.

It's within driving distance.

The best news yet is that with less than a week to go until the kickoff of the EagleBank Bowl in Washington, D.C., Temple's entire ticket allotment of 5,000 has been sold. Just a few $100 seats remain and the wine and cheese crowd (read: Temple's well-heeled alumni) should gobble those up by game time.

Temple coach Al Golden's message of hope is selling about as well in D.C. and Philly as President Obama's did a year ago (and that was very well, by the way).

Consider that Nevada's ticket sales for the Hawaii Bowl were in the "low hundreds" and Temple's performance at the ticket window has been spectacular.

How the hell did we not win the Mid-American Conference (err, that would be no pass rush or blitz) and get the marquee matchup of all MAC matchups?

I pinched myself for good measure to see if that part wasn't a dream, either.
I'm so pumped I would walk down to D.C. to see the Owls in a bowl game but, thanks to Amtrak, I don't have to do that. Not everybody is as pumped as I am.

After about 10 days of going through this routine, I logged onto a computer.
Sports message boards are the next stop on the technology train above sports talk radio. You can check the pulse of the sports community by reading these boards and you can even add a viewpoint or two without having to talk to a producer.

Most of the fans were like me, pumped and ready for the trip.

Then I came across a segment of the fan base that pretty much disgusts me.

The posting was entitled "The EagleBank Bowl is pretty much a made for TV game" and the poster went on to say that because "it'll be too cold and I'm all alone I'll be watching this game on TV."


I'm going all by myself and it'll be just as cold for me. Fifty percent or so of the people I know going to this game will be making the trip alone and I'm guessing it will be just as cold for them, too. I know at least four guys driving up to the game from Florida and my guess is that it will be colder for them than all of us.

It's almost fitting that fate would place the Owls in the town of Obama because, for Temple, this matchup is all about hope.

Hope that Temple's football program has arrived to the point it can beat a name BCS school.

Hope that Temple can prove to the nation its fans care.

We'll find out both Tuesday. The Owls must win and they must prove to be a big-time draw.

Conferences are realigning as we speak and nothing would be a better 1-2 punch to the nation that Temple has arrived than winning the game on the field and in the stands. It'll be on national TV. This is a dress rehearsal for the big time in more ways than one.

The guy, any guy, who pretends to be a Temple fan and can't even get off his ass to get on a train or a Greyhound Bus or thumb a ride to get down there is really not a Temple fan at all.

This is a time for all Temple fans to answer the Clarion call.

The Temple fan base isn't big enough that we can afford to have even one of the "hardcore base" sit at home and watch the game on TV and I don't care how cold it is. I've always said and I think I'm right that Temple has a hardcore base of 15K and a softcore group of 20K.

In D.C., the entire hardcore base is required to be there and, on top of that, an urgent appeal is being made to many of the softcore fans as well.

In my mind, Temple has two magic numbers to reach to impress people across the nation on Tuesday.

They must draw more than 28,786 (what Navy and Wake Forest drew last year) and they must have more points than UCLA at the end.

I know the football team can hold up its part of the bargain.

The time has come for the fans to do the same.


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