A view from outside the press box

I finally paid to see a Temple football game Saturday. I actually shelled out $37.50 to sit behind an endzone at Beaver Stadium.

For the first time in three years, I watched the Owls among the common folk. No press pass to yield me a comfy seat and free food this time.

Instead, I sat hip-to-hip in the bleachers amid a cluster of navy-clad Penn State fanatics and waited until after the game to devour two chicken sandwiches prepared by my friend’s mother.

After serving as an objective reporter for The Temple News, the ability to cheer on Temple seemed a foreign concept. I’m reserved, so I don’t do too much screaming and shouting for anybody, even the few teams I consistently follow.

I sat there decked out in a Temple T-shirt and cherry-colored baseball cap waiting to let loose. Except I never really got a chance. You might have heard by now that the Owls got shellacked, 45-3.

That’s all right. I soaked up the gameday atmosphere that my friend, a newly graduated Penn State alum, enjoyed each of the last four years. The highlights:

9 a.m.
The first object I notice as our truck rolls off the highway is Beaver Stadium. It’s impossible not to. The stadium dominates the horizon, a fitting landscape, considering the way the football program towers over the university.

10 a.m.
While strolling around town I hear the first and only heckle I’ll get all day. Some college kid shouts from his car, “This town’s already full.”

Darn.

As if this Lancaster County native wants to move to a place even more boring than his hometown.

11:30 a.m.
As my friend and I find our seats, I continue the onslaught of pro-Temple declarations that have persisted all morning, ridiculous as they might be. Both he and I know that’s the only time I’ll be able to dream up such fantasies, like the one that has me teaching our section Temple’s fight song.

First Quarter
Temple begins the game looking sharp. The Owls struggle to move the ball on offense, but hey, the Nittany Lions aren’t moving much against Temple’s defense, either.

My friend and our entire section are clearly perturbed. I gloat, but beneath my smirk I’m fully aware the Owls are overmatched and will eventually falter.

Second Quarter
They do. Quickly, but quickly doesn’t even begin to describe the Owls’ collapse. The Lions tack 31 points on the board and I’m left searching for something to ease my boredom.

It comes in the form of an advertisement for a Penn State fantasy camp, where middle-aged men spend a week practicing for a scrimmage at Beaver Stadium.

I’m left wondering what a Temple fantasy camp would include. Botching snaps? Shanking extra points? Oh, I can’t wait to learn the prevent defense.

I amuse myself with these ideas, knowing the program is slowly turning around. But, it’s not there yet, and I do need something to maintain my interest through halftime.

Third Quarter
Jake Brownell boots a field goal. After 10 quarters of football – and two years of trying – Al Golden’s boys have finally posted some points against the Lions.

My friend suggests I stand and sing Temple’s fight song. I decline.

Fourth Quarter
The student section has mostly cleared out by the start of the final period. At last, I have found a similarity between Temple and Penn State fans. Fans don’t duke it out for the entire game.

Still, I’d love to see Temple miraculously storm back, just to stick it to those PSU fans. Chester Stewart could live in infamy.

Unfortunately, both he and I live in reality.

Postgame
The coaches meet at midfield. My experience as a Temple fan is over.

Now I’m chirping in my friend’s ear about the upcoming basketball season, when the Owls travel to State College for a showdown in Temple’s sport.

Let’s go Fran! I think.

Maybe this cheering thing isn’t so hard after all.

John Kopp can be reached at john.kopp@temple.edu.

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