If you look around the FBS this year, you’ll notice a lot of new faces around the top 5 not named Florida, USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Penn State, Notre Dame, or Florida State and I say good for everyone else. I’m a lifelong Temple Owls fan (a grandparent went, my parents went, I went) and the difference between a Temple fan and most of these other schools fans are, WE KNOW HOW TO LOSE!!! In my 4 1/2 years at Temple (1995-1999) (I took a spring semester off to work a co-op) we had 9 wins(adding the 1999 season’s 2 wins makes it seem less pathetic otherwise it would only be 7, which is slightly more pathetic than being the 101st person in line at a Chick-Fil-a opening and thus missing out on the free Chick-Fil-a for a year promotion which is clearly heartbreaking). Last year there were 34 teams in FBS that had at least 9 wins including my beloved Owls(including our first bowl game in 30 years the Nobody Cares Bowl vs UCLA which we ended up losing after our star RB Bernard Pierce went down with an injury in the 1st half, completely heartbreaking when that happened).
So why do I bring this up(hey thanks for asking, glad you’re still reading)? Because I can’t stand listening to all of the whining and complaining of all of the fans of these powerhouse teams who might have to go to a lesser bowl game like the Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, or the BBVA Compass Bowl (3 actual bowl games from this year, feel free to search them on Yahoo, I can wait…you done yet?…still loookin?…can I finish my thought now? Thanks, and stop talking to your computer, you look like an idiot answering an article, you’re a regular Stanley Hawking). Do you know how thrilled I was to have my team go to the EagleBank Bowl last year? I drove 3 hours with the Mrs., sat in the freezing cold, and drove 3 hours home on a school night no less, all for a game that meant nothing to 99.99% of the population, as even UCLA fans clearly didn’t care by their small fan base who showed up for it. We were so happy to just be invited to a bowl game, I’m surprised my wife didn’t give birth to our second child this past Sept/Oct(had we won, I would have all but guaranteed it and when my child asks one day where they were conceived, I’d tell them Lot D of the parking lot outside of RFK stadium).
I first bought my season tickets the year after my Owls went 0-11 (although I had sporadically gone to games throughout the years, never had the time to make the full commitment being young and working, and having no one really to go with as most of my Temple friends weren’t really into the team, for obvious reasons). That year we went 1-11, although the highlight of my year was sitting 1 row behind Paul Palmer who was #2 in the 1986 Heisman vote, the best ever for a Temple player. Do you think this deterred me from buying season tickets again? Nope, I have done so every year since then as we believed that the Golden Era was upon us(in honor of current Temple and future Penn State Coach Al Golden who most of the losing big programs have been salivating over since he turned the Owls program around, and for good reason, he is that good). I have even gone to 5 road games in the last 3 years, albeit all within the area (2 to Army, 2 to Navy, 1 to Penn State which even though we lost, winning for most of the 1st 3 quarters and listening to a silent 100,000+ Penn State stadium made it completely worth while). So for all of you big school teams, let me give you some pointers on how to deal with a team that might be having a subpar year in your mind:
1) Remember there’s only 1 National Champion winner – Unless you’re team has 0 or 1 loss, you are NOT going to win a National Championship. In the 12 years since the BCS has existed, do you know how many teams have played for the National Championship? 12 – and of them, only Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, & Alabama are the only teams who have only played once. Although, only Florida & LSU have won it more than once, the last 4 teams have all been from the SEC and this year is not looking much different if Auburn can keep up their momentum. Going to any Bowl Game is still an accomplishment, and with 70 spots available, roughly 90% of all BCS conference teams get to go to a game at least every 4 years(I made this stat up, but the sad thing is, the percentage really isn’t that far off, thanks to things like the Pinstripe Bowl).
2) Learn how to laugh or make jokes about your team, it’s less depressing than you think – As a Temple fan I have seen some of the worst losses both on TV and in person, at some point you just have to laugh it off. Try this on for size as I’m sure it can beat most, if not all, of your worst losing stories: back in 2008 when the program was kind of turning a corner, we lost to Navy on the road that year 33-27 in OT. What that score doesn’t tell you is that in that game in the 4th quarter with over 10 minutes left we held a 20 point lead. Hold on it gets better. With under 2 minutes left, and a 7 point lead Temple had the ball in our possession with a 1st down and Navy only had 1 Timeout left. So what happened, on 3rd down the RB had the ball stripped, and Navy took it 42 yards for the game tying TD. Had we taken a knee we would have had to punt with 20 or so seconds left on the clock. Then in Overtime, we couldn’t score from the 1, Navy could, 33-27 my friends and I could cry into the rally towel they handed out. This my friends is what Temple football was, sad, heartbreaking, & depressing all rolled into one, and I drove 2 hours to see this? Yep, and loved 95% of it (and how can you possibly get mad at a Service Academy winning a game, they defend our country, you will never hear me talk bad about any of them(looking at you Notre Dame people) so the next time they beat you again, you should stop crying as you beat them for 40 years straight, losing 1 or 2 games to them every once in a while isn’t the second coming of 9/11. These are the people who defend us from 9/11, get over yourselves, you may be the Fighting Irish, but the Army & Navy are the ones doing the real fighting.)
3) Remember the bad times, it will make the good times so much sweeter – Every time Temple wins a game, it’s a blessing. I’ve learned to appreciate every win we’ve had as a bad win, is still a win. We’re not looking for style points, you don’t know how exciting it is as a Temple fan when the rankings come out weekly, to occasionally have seen the team merely listed as others receiving votes. Some people think we’re good enough to qualify for the top 25? I haven’t been this excited since IHOP introduced stuffed french toast(in my defense it’s delicious, and I got to check that off of my bucket list this year, although I was disappointed in the size of it).
4) Have fun at a tailgate, bring your appetite – It is every American’s right to eat till you get sick. It’s in the Constitution I think. When I think of going to a tailgate, to me it’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet where if I don’t have diarrhea tomorrow, I’ve cheated myself out of some good times. Admittedly, I’m not much of a drinker, but if you are, if your team stinks, what better way to forget about it than to get loaded before the disappointment so tomorrow you’ll barely remember how poorly your team played. Tailgates are American in every sense of the word, we are not the French chowing down on Crepes, we eat real American food (but quick side note, some Crepes are pretty good, I could go for a Blueberry one right now) meats, cheeses, breads, pizza, desserts, chips, dips, pretty much anything that Jillian Michaels would yell at you on the Biggest Loser for is what you should eat for these 6-7 games a year(salads are for ladies gentlemen, its strictly a filler)
5) Don’t give up on your team, they have to get better right? – I’ve always worn my Temple colors win or lose, that’s the kind of fan I am(I even started a tradition of getting my face painted half white/half cherry our team colors when we were awful as it was kind of a joke as what kind of fan of a 1-11 team gets their face painted, that’s right my friends, I do). Remember, there is more than 1 college sport to worry about, as basketball counts too, and eventually you have to be good at one, statistics will tell you this if you are a Division I school. By the way, there are really only 2 major sports in college, no one North of Oklahoma cares about baseball, and everything else is really just for show, hence they all lose money, and yes I’m talking to you women’s sports. Hey, I’m a big fan of the ladies, but at some point in life you will realize no one cares about field hockey, and if you didn’t wear tight fitting volleyball outfits no one would care about that either(I do have a thing for tall girls in Spandex, this is also the American way). This goes for most every other sport too, as no one brags about winning the NCAA Rowing Championship (although Temple does hold its own every year in the Heavyweight 8, but if you mention the Heavyweight 8 without mentioning rowing, people will think its a competitive eating contest).
6) There’s always the Rivalry game – even if your team stinks, maybe they can still win that game against your team’s biggest rival, making the rest of the year not as terrible. There are several teams that don’t even have a rival, so maybe you should be thankful for that as a Temple alum, our biggest football rival is Penn State and we haven’t beaten them since 1941 and we are definitely not their biggest rival, we’re not even in their top 10(sad considering they only play 12 games a year, this is how little we mean to them). We like to think they care, but most people were fairly nice to the Temple fans up in Happy Valley, which goes back to the non-threatening factor. The problem with a lot of rivalries is they are completely one-sided. By this theory, the NY Yankees biggest rivalry is really the Mets and not the Red Sox. The Mets are at least in the same city and if you wanna compare championships, the Yankees had more in the 90s then the Red Sox have since they traded Babe Ruth, and this coming from a lifelong Phillies fan.
7) Go to a game just to watch some football, as football is truly America’s past time and bring the kids with ya – when I found out my wife was pregnant I thought several things, 1) is it mine? (as why does the mailman always come to our house on Sundays? Hmmmm…) and 2) I can’t wait to take them to watch Temple sports as its fairly affordable and who knows, maybe they’ll win a couple of games. Well, I can proudly say my daughter Suzy is currently 14-0 in Temple games she’s seen in person (8-0 football, 6-0 basketball this has to be a record to start a life for a Temple fan, no?). Win or lose, we love taking her to games(ok bad choice since she hasn’t seen a loss, but eventually she will, maybe when we play Penn State next year at home, but never know, could be our year), but we aren’t the irresponsible parents who take her to night games or make her sit out in the cold or rain(it’s tough enough to keep her entertained for 3 1/2 hours, adding darkness or cold is like waiting at a TSA checkpoint for an hour just so you can find out the person touching your privates isn’t exactly an SI covermodel, seriously if the people feeling me up were better looking would anyone be complaining, oh sorry hot lady, please stop touching me, oh it’s so horrible(somehow I’m guessing sarcasm on emails can get missed, but I digress what was I talking about? oh right…). So trying to get the little ones interested at a young age is something I have tried to instill in her, as I don’t want her to ever get brainwashed by someone else and end up rooting for some team like Villanova do I(this would be tantamount to telling us one day that she wants to go on the Bachelor to find her future husband, you only go on that show to get famous duh.)?
So, hopefully this will help some of you powerhouses in your down year and realize, hey life ain’t so bad, not only is there next year, but we just signed a 4 star recruit and didn’t have to pay him Cam Newton type money either ;)