Ten years have passed since the season when Temple’s football team seemed beyond the hope of repair.
In 2005, two years after being kicked out of the Big East Conference, the program finished 0-11. Former Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw said in a recent interview with The Temple News that the university at one point considered cutting football altogether during his tenure here from 2002-13.
Things have changed drastically in the last decade, though. In what was a significant announcement for Temple, two rivals.com four-star recruits – running back T.J. Simmons and defensive back Kareem Ali Jr. – are slated to join the team next season, among several other notable athletes. Coach Matt Rhule partially attributed the improved recruiting results to the increased exposure Temple has gained through competing in the American Athletic Conference.
Despite President Theobald’s denials that last year’s athletic cuts had anything to do with football, they were necessary in order for the transition into The American to remain feasible. The football program led the school to the new conference, and the cuts were what were required to keep it there.
Now, we are beginning to see the results of joining the new conference – if not yet in win totals, then in the talent Rhule and his staff have been able to acquire. The acquisitions, though, also signify a change in the way Temple is being viewed and respected by those outside of the university’s bubble.
Simmons said Florida State and Ohio State recruited him. He de-committed from the University of California, Los Angeles before signing with Temple.
“We’re recruiting with the big dogs,” Rhule said in a press conference last week.
This year’s class indicates that recruits are beginning to view Temple, not as a back-up plan, but as a destination where they could experience significant playing time and exposure.
It’s a reminder, not only that Temple is on the rise, but of how important the football program remains to the university’s overall growth.