Last week Temple started their season with a 42-7 thrashing of Villanova to win their annual Week 1 game against their crosstown rivals. Last year they took the game 31-24 -- a close affair. The year before that, 'Nova won it 27-24 and TU still went bowling in December.
I think the blowout margin came as a shock to many of us given the recent history of this game, coupled with all the transition that Temple has endured: coaches, quarterbacks and defensive personnel.
Temple Football Forever proprietor Mike Gibson didn't see this as a close game, feeling that all along this was going to be a TU blowout. And it was. His reaction to showboat his prediction was to not only gloat about it, but brand everybody else who didn't predict a blowout as a hater.
Of the 14 MAC websites, including numerous blogs, only eight people picked Temple to beat Villanova and most of those who picked the Owls said it would be a "tight game."
One of the guys said "since Temple lost a ton of talent on defense" and "had a new system" that the Owls would lose to Villanova.
I'm not sure who the 14 MAC websites are, but I do know that we are a MAC website and five of the participants picked Villanova, or 26 percent of the pickers. The guy Gibson mentions is perhaps our SBN friend Tim Riordan whose rationale with Villanova was: "New TU coach, New system and a ton of lost talent on D." But we cannot be sure of this since he chose not to fully attribute the quote and possibly altered it.
I suppose as a fan of a school, one has more of a proclivity for optimism, as would the writers. after I did three guest Akron previews for Ohio State blogs and looked at their recruiting numbers I thought, hey, this team could win six games! That's what happens when you hunker down and focus on one school, sometimes. Gibson thought Temple would blow out Nova, and they did. And they're totally going to move on without Al Golden and be even better. Why did he feel that people didn't predict this?
"I chalk this up to MAC haters. More specifically, Temple haters in the MAC."
So through one week, a writer is going to play the LOLHATERZ card?
Holy crap, nobody knows anything about these teams. That's what's so beautiful about college football. What we did know is that Temple was experiencing transitional points on all three lines of defense, as well as basically the entire coaching staff. Departed were leading receiver Michael Campbell and senior tight end Vaughn Charlton as well as two offensive linemen. The team returned 12 starters from the 2010 team, according to College Football News.
Perhaps there are "haters," whatever nebulous definition that pejorative holds, of Temple. There are also "haters" of Akron, Ball State, BG, Buffalo, CMU, EMU, Kent State, Miami, NIU, Ohio, Toledo and WMU. Nobody likes every team.
Additionally, not everyone can be a favorite to win the MAC East. I think everyone's in agreement that Temple, OHIO and Miami are the three big contenders. Some may add Kent State (and even BG after Week 1) to the pile, but there are some serious leaps of faith to say we think Temple will fall off because we don't like them.
Look, somebody's going to regress if we believe others will improve. If either BG, Buffalo and Akron will improve from one conference win, somebody else has to take the hit. Temple is one of the candidates for all the reasons stated above. Or maybe it's Ohio. Or even Miami. Or maybe that's just the hater in me.
Is this really about something else? Shall we direct our attention to the giant elephant? We all have a suspicion that Temple feels they're better than the MAC simply because their recruits believe they'll return to the Big East someday. I don't think this would ever cloud our judgment in how good Temple football is, because we want the conference to be as good as they can be. Are we going to haze the Owls (our logo does exactly that) because they're not only the newest member but the only football-only guys? Absolutely. The same razzing was given Buffalo until they won a MAC championship. NIU was a laughingstock until they weren't. Marshall instantly shook off doubters because they won right away. MAC fans may never like UCF because of how weird that membership was, not only in geography and brevity but also because of how noncompetitive they were before moving to Conference USA and getting better.
Maybe there are other reasons. But anyone could scrutinize the mentality of the other 12 programs and psychoanalyze their flaws. It's not going to change what they think their football team is going to do.
Going simpler, predictions are fun, harmless exercises. The intent is to make believe expertise is accessible to those who in actuality know nothing. This is why a handful of preseason Top 25 teams end up being terrible. We just don't know, but we're obligated to guess. I picked Ball State to beat Indiana but that was on a whim; those who felt BSU would get blown out by the Hoosiers aren't "haters."
So I'm not entirely sure what Gibson was thinking when he decided to fire shots at the rest of the conference like a blind rattlesnake, other than to perhaps brag about his correct prediction of the Villanova game. Seems excessive. It may have been more helpful if he attributed quotes rather than building an argument around bad quotes and ambiguous generalizations.