Temple football will put to rest one volume of its history when it bids farewell to Temple Stadium this weekend. The start of the 1928 season saw the opening of Temple Stadium, aka Beury Stadium, aka Owl Stadium.
The early history of the program also includes the likes of Pop Warner’s tenure on North Broad Street and I bet some people didn’t know that Bill Cosby once donned the cherry and white on the football field in the early ’60s, too.
After Saturday’s last hurrah at Temple Stadium, there will be the dawning of a new era in Temple football, or at least there could be. And it all starts with a driving force. We’ll call it “Owls to the NFL.” A program geared at giving those blue-chip and blue-collar athletes who play on a football team with a constant losing record a chance in the NFL, or something to that extent. That’s been the story for the Owls, who have sent 80 players to the NFL in school history with no national championships or major bowl wins.
Since Temple joined the Big East Conference in 1992, they have yet to muster a winning season. Bobby Wallace, entering his fifth season at the helm for Temple, has sent 18 players to professional leagues, including this years crop of Owls which were either drafted or signed as free-agents by NFL teams.
When you look at Temple’s past records you can only stop to wonder ‘who on this team can survive the wrath of the NFL if they can’t even help their team squander some quality wins?’
NFL scouts and coaches all but throw a prospects team’s record and success out the window for a number of reasons while looking for someone to fill a roster spot.
Primarily because the NFL team is drafting the player, not the team he played for. Scouts want to see what the individual can bring to their team. When scouting, eyes are on a particular player, his every movement and his reaction to his surroundings, not on the scoreboard. Although it is a plus for a player to have the ability to change the game with a simple block, catch or ear-chewing.
There is plenty of hidden talent on all levels of college football, and you could find a future starting quarterback or kick returner on your typical Temple team one that might not win many games but has players excel at their position or craft or junior college program.
Regardless, that’s the path Temple is headed on right now, being that there is no telling as to what next season can bring, except for the fact that there will be more of Wallace’s players headed to the pro’s.
So far, the Eagles drafted defensive end Raheem Brock and signed fullback Jason McKie to a free-agent contract. The Cincinnati Bengals acquired fullback Harold Jackson after the draft and the New Orleans Saints signed cornerback Chonn Lacey to a free-agent contract as well.
Several Owls on the depth chart for next season could have shots at the NFL and will have an entire summer and regular season to beef up their draft stock.
A few Owls who could be playing on Sundays include junior wide receiver Sean Dillard, junior defensive tackle Dan Klecko, junior cornerback Terrance Leftwich and junior running back Tanardo Sharps.
Chris Slva can be reached at Cbsrican@aol.com