Trying to explain the football team’s miscues during the Owls’ active four game losing streak can prove to be difficult. After Temple’s most recent loss to Cincinnati, the problem caused an exasperated coach Steve Addazio to call himself a jackass.
“If I were a donkey, we’d all go for a ride,” Addazio said. “I would take this play away. I would take that play away. That’s not football. You can’t do that.”
Temple (3–6, 2–4 Big East Conference) lost to Cincinnati (7–2, 3–1 Big East) 34–10 for the Owls’ fourth loss in a row on Nov. 10. The team’s losing streak has crippled Temple’s hopes of becoming bowl eligible, a goal Addazio set for the team at the beginning of the season.
The best chance for Temple to become bowl eligible is by winning six games, something that’s impossible under the Owls’ current schedule consisting of only two more games. However, the university is working on scheduling a 12th game at Hawaii on Dec. 7.
Though the BCS Bowl Selection Show will take place on Dec. 2, a Big East bowl is able to reserve a place for Temple if the 12th game is scheduled and the Owls have five wins.
“The most important thing for us right now is getting better and finding a win,” Addazio said. “We’re thinking big picture here because it’s a big picture. I hope we play more games because I want to practice more. I want to play more. I want to keep growing.”
“We’re still hoping for that last game, so if that comes along we’ll still have the opportunity to become bowl eligible,” senior defensive end John Youboty said. “But other than that, our coaches wouldn’t accept anything less than us being driven and motivated for every snap.”
By rule, FBS teams with a record of at least six wins and no more than six losses get first consideration for bowls, which select their own participants.
In the unlikely case that there aren’t enough six-win teams to fill the 70 spots in BCS bowls, Temple could potentially get into a bowl with a five-win record. NCAA rules were revised before this season to allow five-win teams to take bowl spots vacated by ineligible teams.
The Big East will have to field six bowl eligible teams to fill its various bowl agreements this bowl season. Three Big East teams — Louisville, Rutgers and Cincinnati — are already bowl eligible and it’s possible for three other Big East teams to become bowl eligible, not including Temple.
If the Big East has a shortage of bowl eligible teams come Dec. 2, and Temple has five wins and is scheduled to play Hawaii, it’s possible a bowl could hold a spot for Temple.
“The bottom line is to keep the faith,” Addazio said. “You never know what’s going to happen. You never know what’s going to pop up that might be positive. You never know what’s going to happen.”
But the bowl would still have to select Temple instead of other five-or-six-win teams. Bowls base selections largely on attendance, an area where Temple ranks last in the Big East.
Redshirt-junior quarterback Chris Coyer said his team hasn’t lost its spirit despite the unlikelihood of a postseason.
“It’s absolutely not hard to stay motivated,” Coyer said. “There’s a lot of fight left in this team. It’s disappointing to lose any game. We don’t really know what’s going on, but we’re just trying to win our next two games.”
Regardless of if the Owls schedule a 12th game or if bowls would be receptive of Temple, the Owls have to win out to have any chance of going to a bowl this year. But the way Temple has been playing lately could raise doubt as to why bowl hypotheticals are even being considered.
Temple is losing by an average of 26 points during its losing streak. The Owls are giving up more passing yards (284) than they are gaining totally on offense (273). Coyer has been pulled in each of the consecutive losses and junior quarterback Clinton “Juice” Granger could take over next game.
Addazio said the team continues to play with conviction despite the recent poor play.
“The key to keeping the team motivated is, ‘Do they love football?’ And they do,” Addazio said. “I’ve been around those teams where, right about now it’s like, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ This team — they want to do this. They like this.”
“That’s the team that we have here in Philadelphia,” Addazio added. “If you can’t appreciate that, then you don’t appreciate the true passion of the game of football.”
Addazio said he’s more concerned with developing his football team than getting to a bowl game, and he’s excited for the challenge.
“It’s exciting where we can go, and how fast we can get it done,” Addazio said. “We’re in a foot race right now. We need a taste of victory. That’s important. When you work as hard as we do, you need to feel that. So we’re going to battle to see if we can find that Saturday.”
Joey Cranney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @joey_cranney.