Let's see ... a FanPost and a FanShot on this very matter ... and they have starkly differing opinions about the bowl-ness of Temple football. Okay, fine, let's talk about this, 'cause it won't go away too soon.
It's been swell to see many national media outlets discuss Temple's situation, although they're not so much discussing Temple football rather using them as a case study to crush the cast-iron exteriour around the BCS and the bowl system. And that's not fair to the Owls' season. (Besides: there are way better weapons for that.)
If you're not up to speed: 72 teams became eligible for 70 bowl spots, and the only two who aren't going are Western Michigan (6-6) and Temple (8-4). Yes, Temple beat UConn, considered by some to be the worst BCS-bound team in history. Sure, maybe they are ... but like Temple, Connecticut is being swung like a cudgel to smash the establishment. That's again not fair to diminish how far they've come from I-AA to the Fiesta Bowl. Think about that! That's pretty cool ... and if this weren't a MAC blog, we could talk about how sweet the system allowed a tiny school (with some connections) to advance so far.
But let's talk about Temple instead. And let's remember some advice in previous weeks.
1. The MAC and the BCS don't really care for one another. This is just how it is; we've learned to live independent of one another, meaning that:
2. The MAC Championships is the primary game. You probably watched the SEC Championship, and all they were talking about was "if Auburn wins they are in the title game." The winner of the MAC ... is the winner of the fucking MAC. They're both getting bowl games. So much drama is inherently sapped from the event when a championship quantitatively means more for one team than the other. If South Carolina beat Auburn, they wouldn't be playing for a national championship. NIU lost the MACCG, and I guess you could say they had more to lose because they were ranked, but suppose they stayed ranked. What would that have gotten them?
3. Bowls are freebie games. They're strictly for exposure, and they're not guaranteed beyond three teams.
The DeKalb Chronicle noted last March that NIU lost money in consecutive years, mostly on travel expenses, by going to bowl games. The payout and the ticket sales hardly cover the costs. Western Michigan lost over $400K in the Texas Bowl two years ago, and that was an at-large invitation. Moreover, Michigan's AD noted that by not going to bowls in back-to-back years, they made money.
Oh, right, this was about Temple.
While we'd all love to go to bat for the little guys, and coach Al Golden certainly qualifies as that, lobbying for them to get into a shitty bowl game somewhere in the south or Midwest would probably cost them a bundle. And I know we don't really like to think about the finances of collegiate sports (takes all the fun out of it), but it is there.
So you can laud the 8-4 record, pooh-pooh them being the fifth-best in the MAC, or throw out some other records. Discuss the depth of the Sun Belt ... 6-6 Middle Tennessee was 1-11 Memphis' only win. Between the SBC's three bowl teams, their only nonconference wins were Bowling Green (by Troy) and FCS Austin Peay (by MTSU). But, hey, they're a conference, much like the MAC, and they're the only conference we honestly have the ability to raise our noses at on a regular basis. I get it. But they got three, and we got four.
The bowl games are neat, and we're going to watch them, preview them, anticipate them ... but because we love football, we anticipate every week, not because "holy shit they're bowl games!" The real prize for the MAC was the Championship Game, and Miami won it. Temple had their chance. They were favored in the MAC East. Ya did your best.
We're now in the season's epilogue. Let's enjoy it, because the Sun Belt is gunnin' for some respect against what, in all honesty, might've been a down year in our own conference. And maybe down the road, it can become a north/south rivalry. Much like we had in the 1850s! Except slightly fewer musket wounds.