Temple and the Big East: Welcome back
Temple makes its official return to Big East football on Saturday afternoon at home against USF, and while it's been almost eight years since the Owls last played in the conference, those first 14 seasons of conference play don't hold up very well over time.
"You look at a number of years ago, when they were dismissed for the reasoning of not being competitive, I'm sure that has been a thorn in their side, that they're really excited and (it) will be a driving force, motivating this football team coming back," said Skip Holtz, whose record over his past 10 Big East games (1-9) is the same as the Owls in their last 10 Big East games. "They've had an awful lot of success the last couple of years. I think Steve Addazio has done a great job with that team."
How bad was Temple's first stint in the Big East? The Owls were charter members when the conference started its football play in 1991, but Temple wouldn't get its first win until 1995, beating Pittsburgh 29-27 after losing its first 27 league games. The Owls also lost their first 26 conference road games, a streak that ended with their biggest Big East win, a 28-24 victory over No. 14 Virginia Tech in 1998. Temple, which overcame a 17-point deficit, stopped Virginia Tech's Lamont Pegues at the 2-yard line on the game's final play.
Temple's best Big East record was 3-4 in 1997 -- remember that USF's best in its seven seasons has been 4-3 -- and the Owls' best overall record in those 14 seasons was 4-7. In all, Temple went 14-80 in the Big East, and in that span, the Owls won just one game overall five times, winning two in another five seasons. Temple beat Rutgers the most -- five times -- followed by Pittsburgh (three), Boston College and Syracuse (two each) and Virginia Tech and West Virginia (once each). The Owls finished 1-32 in Big East games against ranked opponents.
After leaving the Big East, Temple went 1-27 in its next 28 games, but the Owls found success under coach Al Golden, going 9-4 in 2009 and 8-4 in 2010, with Addazio leading them to a 9-4 record last year. Temple has struggled this season, with Maryland jumping out to a 26-3 lead and Penn State leading 21-3 before the Owls made both games interesting, losing 36-27 to the Terrapins and 24-13 to the Nittany Lions.
In fairness, we should point out that Temple's football history goes clear back to 1894 -- legendary coach Pop Warner coached the Owls from 1933-38, and comedian Bill Cosby played from 1960-62. Paul Palmer was the Heisman runner-up in 1986, and the former Owl best known to Bucs fans might be linebacker Alshermond Singleton, who played six years for Tampa Bay, including the 2002 Super Bowl championship season.