I'll try not to assume too much sentiment of Temple fans, so bear with me. But lately there have been some odd rumors flapping about Owls football rejoining the Big East in 2012 after being booted for general noncompetitive behavior seven years ago. The cryptic phrasing from incoming Temple recruits have insinuated a migration back to their old connections as soon as next year, making us all wonder how they were schmoozed by new head coach Steve Addazio.
I'm not going to get into whether or not there are legs to this — other than it smells like hopeful horse leavings — since I'm more interested in how these theories keep percolating.When Temple joined the MAC in 2007, they were a desperate out-of-conference program situated in a large city and leasing playing time in a large stadium. They are now winning games again and the Owls feel like they can again compete in a large conference. Heck, they beat the Big East champions last year. And I couldn't be more pleased with their success.
But doesn't it seem like this program and some of their fans don't want to be in the MAC anymore?
A year ago, we heard Temple was joining Conference USA. Not "might." "Was." With all certainty. It was a rather easy rumor to debunk, mostly because it made zero licks of sense. It was optimism coupled with assumption paired with one off-the-cuff tweet by one college football reporter.
It really seems like Owls fans want to remember their MAC years as not their glory era, but their steppingstone toward it. And I'm thinking: hold everything. They haven't won anything yet. They've won zero bowls, zero MAC Championships, and zero MAC East Division titles. Some nice talent has been drafted to the NFL, sure, but not enough.
And yet this is the second year in a row we've heard rumors of Temple moving to another conference. I'm trying to figure out whether this is a byproduct of Owls administrators and/or fans wanting to return to greener pastures, or the conference being paranoid about them leaving.
If you believe it's the MAC just acting nervous that they'll go away, then examine the contracts. When UMass signed on to become a football-only member in 2012, documents revealed that Temple's (and UMass's) financial penalty to withdraw would be a cool $2.5 million. You can bet your sweet Thundering Herd that this was stipulated because rumors were a-flyin' that they may go back to the Big East or C-USA or the CFL or who the heck knows. Big buyouts are done to satisfy those drafting the contracts.
And I know there are a ton of Owls fans – great ones – who love playing in the MAC for football. They've realized through four seasons that it's not as atrocious as it may seem. It doesn't stack up with the Big East or Big Ten, but it's competitive as hell and fans do care. They do not like MAC basketball, however. Another one of the contract stipulations is that men's and women's basketball, which plays in the higher-rated Atlantic 10, has to allot four nonconference games a year to play MAC squads. And this cheeses them as well. Or maybe for the last four years they've felt like the 13th wheel.
There may also be a nucleus of fans, alum and personnel who just want football to get back to a power conference by any means necessary. That the recruits are all talking as if a Big East move is their goal, than that pretty much sums up the sentiments of the team itself.
But for now, Temple is a MAC East contender and nothing more. They can reach the BCS (if that's their goal) with a flawless record. Beating Penn State, Maryland, and eight MAC schools is probably a simpler goal than topping six or seven Big East teams. And which school had more focus from the national media last year: Boise State, TCU, or UConn?
But if Temple really doesn't want to be a part of the hustle belt, then let 'em go. There's no room for self-loathing institutions here.