A couple of days ago, I dashed off a note to Philadelphia Inquirer TV writer Mike Klein and asked him to get the ratings for Temple's EagleBank Bowl football game with UCLA.
I thought they'd be high because Temple always did well on TV when Paul Palmer was going for the Heisman Trophy in 1986 and before that when Wayne Hardin put together a string of winning years.
There always has been a lot of interest in a "winning" Temple team.
While the "hardcore" fan base delivered some impressive numbers at RFK Stadium, with 20,000 Temple fans making the trip in brutal cold, the "softcore" fan base also produced last Tuesday.
While there were reports all over the place that several watering holes inside Center City (the game was played during Happy Hour) were packed with people cheering on the Owls, there's nothing like cold, hard numbers produced by the ratings folks at ESPN.
The numbers Klein found were even beyond my expectations and ran in his Inklings column Tuesday.
I dashed off a similar email to Daily News' columnist Dan Gross, a Temple grad, who wrote me back: "I'll try to get you the numbers, Mike, but I don't think I'll put them in my column."
Klein beat Gross to the punch.
Go to Philly.com , search for Klein's Inklings column from Jan. 5 and page under "Owls fly" and Klein's numbers are really the best empirical data supporting the "latent" support and interest for Temple football in the Philadelphia area.
An estimated 140,000 viewers watched the game, which made it the most-watched ESPN bowl game in Philadelphia since 2007 (Penn State was in the Alamo Bowl then).
All of this proves a couple of points:
A winning Temple football team can deliver the fourth-largest market to any football conference in the country, and there is a "softcore" group of fans just waiting to jump on the bandwagon and follow a Temple team that proves to be a consistent winner.
The bandwagon's journey will get underway only with a convincing win over Villanova to start next season, but there is enough evidence that there are thousands of people waiting to jump on this Owl Express once that happens.
Warm up those engines.
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