Although the football team lost to Ohio Friday, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the Owls are headed to a bowl game. That said, I think it’s time to get something out in the open that has been eating away at me for most of the season.
I am sorry I wrote off Temple at the beginning of the season.
I said you and your team could “forget about playing in a bowl game this year after losing the season opener to Villanova,” in my debut column in The Temple News. Boy, was I wrong.
I have been a sports reporter for four years, and I would have to say calling your season dead after one game might have been one of the dumbest decisions I have made in my career thus far.
I completely disregarded the fact that Villanova was a non-conference team and that there were still 11 games left. I said one loss “puts a black mark on the entire season,” but looking back, I do not actually remember a whole lot about that game.
That loss was admittedly not as big a deal as I made it out to be. The players recovered from it, as they won nine straight games. I have to give those guys a lot of credit. They did a lot more than just recover from a 0-2 start. They are now in position to go to a bowl game, and for the first time in nearly 20 years, Temple football is relevant, which is a huge deal.
I came into the season expecting, at the most, six wins and no bowl game appearance. I was riding the culture of cynicism and apathy toward the team that has plagued the university for so long. It was a bad call on my part not to give your team a chance. I committed one of the cardinal sins of journalism – I lacked objectivity. I came into the season expecting it to be a failure before a snap was even played.
It wasn’t until about the Army game that I started to realize the team was legitimately good. After the comeback win in Annapolis, Md., against Navy, I was finally convinced your team was bowl material.
After that, I figured I might have to eventually submit a mea culpa.
I guess I should also extend my apologies to the players as well, for selling them short at the start of the season.
I reluctantly include redshirt junior quarterback Vaughn Charlton in this group. I have criticized him to the point where I am making jokes about him in non-football related stories at The Temple News. But I will say this about him: He is a bad quarterback, and I will stand by that assessment until the day I die, but he did just enough to contribute – even as a backup – during the team’s nine-game winning streak, and he should get some props for that.
The whole team showed more talent, resilience and character than I ever could have expected from that squad, and that includes freshman running back Bernard Pierce, redshirt sophomore quarterback Chester Stewart, the entire defense and all the other role players who make up the roster. Those seniors have endured whole years of ridicule from folks like myself – but now they will leave Temple to cheers rather than jeers.
While it is not my job to support you or your players, you guys have earned my respect.
You taught me a lesson this season: Never, ever sell a team short, no matter what happened the season before, no matter what happened the previous 20 seasons. Every team gets a clean slate heading into a new season. I let years of futility cloud my judgment, which led me to make the incredibly stupid decision of calling your season dead after one game. I thought at the time that it was a safe bet, but here I am, eating my words.
Al Golden, I apologize for writing off you and your team. I was wrong.
The Temple News
P.S. If, by chance, that first column was in any way, shape or form used to motivate your team, you’re welcome.