Temple and Rutgers About to Renew an Old Rivalry
Rivalries are a beautiful thing.
I'm old enough to know when Temple and Delaware were rivals.
One of my fondest days was spent in Newark, Del., when Temple beat Delaware 31-8 in front of a still-record and still-stunned crowd of 23,619.
An even fonder day was Temple's 45-0 win in Newark on another beautiful Saturday. The hot dogs in that post-game tailgate tasted like filet mignon.
Temple even got grief from the local media for scheduling Delaware.
"I believe in scheduling Delaware...and then beating the crap out of them," was the way Wayne Hardin was quoted in response.
I loved it.
Could you imagine Temple's current coach, Al Golden, saying that about any opponent?
"Temple's program is a big-time song and dance," Delaware coach Tubby Raymond said.
Now that's a rivalry.
That's what I'm talkin' about.
Hardin must've really enjoyed it because he beat Raymond seven of the last nine times he faced him on the football field. Hardin could talk the talk, but one of the most admirable things about him (of many) is that he backed that up by walking the walk.
Penn State is a rival, but to be one, you've got to prove that you can beat one.
Temple's proven that against Rutgers numerous times, and the proximity of the schools combined with an animosity factor qualifies this as a real rivalry.
You've got to have a little animosity to stir the rivalry pot, and in Rutgers, there's some of that.
That's why the news today of a two-for-two deal (twice in Philadelphia, twice in Piscataway) is terrific for me.
Since Delaware, Rutgers has always been Temple's biggest rival.
With the Big East expulsion backdrop, there's plenty of animosity.
This is something Rutgers wanted five years ago, but it approached Temple with a three-for-two deal.
Temple, I'm told, said no dice.
"We want to play you, but it's two-for-two or nothing," was Temple's response.
So, for five years, it's been nothing.
Temple would have been very happy waiting until kingdom come with the nothing, and Rutgers brass finally realized that the extra game demand did not make sense if it meant the schools would never play again.
Rutgers finally gave in last week.
I'm amused when I hear from my Rutgers friends (and I have a few) demanding that Temple give Rutgers an extra home game "because Temple is a MAC school."
Dude, you are the reason we're a MAC school.
If you supported us, Virginia Tech and Pitt would have joined in and blocked the Big East expulsion.
So there's some animosity there.
I have some fond memories, too, of some Rutgers-Temple games.
I'm sure Rutgers fans have similar memories as well of games that didn't turn out as well for Temple, but that's what rivalries are all about.
When Bruce Arians was Temple coach and Dick Anderson was his opposite number at Rutgers, Anderson had a quarterback named Scott Erney who was killing Temple on the final drive of the game with a 35-30 lead.
Erney, running a two-minute drill against Nick Rapone's prevent defense, drove RU to the Temple 20 in the game's final minute and appeared to be leading his team to the winning touchdown.
Arians then called a timeout, got in Rapone's face, and ordered a jailhouse blitz on the next four plays.
Four straight Temple sacks, with a defensive lineman named Swift Burch ending the game on top of Erney at midfield. Temple won, 35-30.
"If I was going to go down, it wasn't going to be against a prevent," Arians said, holding the game ball. "I was going to go down with my guns blazing."
In 2002, at Rutgers in the rain, the Owls trailed at halftime, 14-3.
The Owls, by then, had won three straight over Rutgers, and a senior center named Donny Klein got up at halftime and pounded his helmet on the floor and started an F-bomb tirade. By that year, Temple got kicked out of the Big East and knew Rutgers would be staying in instead.
"I've never lost to f-ing Rutgers, and I'm not going to end my career losing to f-ing Rutgers," Klein said, ending a 10-minute rant that included about 100 f-bombs.
Led by Klein's incredible blocking, a back named Tanardo Sharps rolled up 215 yards on 43 carries, and Temple won, 20-17, on Cap Poklemba's last-second field goal.
The Temple team then ran over to the Big East logo and danced on it, singing the school's fight song in a monsoon.
That's what I would call animosity.
That's what I would call a rivalry.
Temple really hasn't had one of those in long time.
There's no animosity, for me at least, against Buffalo, Kent State, and the fake Miami.
The only discordant note is that this series won't start until 2015.
Al Golden will be 45 years old and working on a Wayne Hardin-like legacy in Philadelphia (I hope).
By then, I hope he talks the Hardin, Arians, and Klein talk and walks the Hardin, Arians, and Klein walk.
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