The City of Brotherly Love. The city that organized a revolution. A place known for its blue collar toughness and resiliency. A place that has tasted greatness so few times that the people of this great city crave it more than any other. They have lost Super Bowls, World Series’, NBA Championships, and hell, even the Capital of the United States of America! Nowhere is this more evident than in their Eagles. Go and spend an hour in Philly and you will meet a dozen people who happen to have all of the solutions to take their Eagles to the next level.
So, it is not surprising that a talented and nearly unblemished Temple University football team can go practically unnoticed. A team that inhabits all of the core values of Philadelphians. They have been a laughing stock, a joke, and winless just 10 years ago. The program has only been to four bowl games and has only spent 11 weeks in the Top 25 in the 68 years they have been playing football. But, that hasn’t kept the 2015 Temple Owls from believing.
This past week, Temple took center stage having the privilege of hosting ESPN’s College Gameday and having their football team play on National TV, against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, as the network’s feature game. Nobody has ever considered Philadelphia a college football town but, for Halloween Night in 2015, the Owls owned the city. From North Broad St, to Independence Mall, to Lincoln Financial Field in South Philly, this city was topped with cherry.
College football is unique. It is not always pretty and relies heavily on coaches making the right decisions and players relying on natural instinct. Stadiums are nestled into campuses and are built in ways that makes the players feel as if the crowd is right on top of them. Students have the luxury to walk out of their front door and be in an earshot to the game. The students, the alumni, and the community all support their team; one team.
This is not the case in Philly. With five big time universities in the city, alliances are not always easy to be found. This has made the city more supportive of their pro teams. It is the one unifying thing this city has and boy do they love their football. This has not trickled down to the college level and rightfully so. Would you want to watch a team that has averaged 4 wins a season this century or a team who is constantly in contention for their division? I choose the latter too. Temple students and fans at College Gameday were even found belting the Eagles’ fight song, chanting Eagles’ chants, donning their midnight green, and even holding signs about their NFL team.
Gameday at Lincoln Financial Field is just a little different on Saturdays. The upper levels are usually closed and the bottom bowl is not even even half full. Student tickets are free and the athletic department is practically begging students to take them. It is nearly a half hour drive from campus to the stadium so most students choose to spend their Saturdays in their dorms, apartments, and maybe even the library (scary, right?).
2015 has been the Owls year. Students were lined up at Independence Mall for College Gameday at 1:00 in the morning for the 9 o’clock show and the site saw about as many Temple fans as their football games once saw. The game was the second sell out of the season for Temple and the second chance at defeating a historical college football powerhouse, Penn State being the first. The campus, the stadium, and the entire city had high hopes going into the game and many Temple supporters were expecting an Owls’ victory. Temple played one hell of a football game but, the cherry and white did fall short to one of college football’s most storied programs.
It is not only the Temple football team who should keep their heads held high, but the students, fans, and alumni as well because what an incredible college football atmosphere it was! College games are always different in pro stadiums. They never have that same feeling where the crowd is involved on every play. The tailgates aren’t as strong as it is a little more difficult to drive an RV through the crowded streets of Philadelphia than the open roads of State College, PA. The stadiums are located far off of campuses so they are usually half full at best. But, from the moment I got off the subway, I felt like I was at a college football game.
There was music meshing into one mass of sound from multiple tailgates, fans of Temple and Notre Dame trash talking, grills cooking up tailgate classics, plenty of beer, and even cornhole! Tailgates were hosted by alumni, students, fraternities, and fans just like at any other college game. Inside the stadium there was an abundant amount of Notre Dame fans but unlike their game against Penn State, Temple cherry and white dominated the seats and dominated the noise production all game long.
For that one October night, Lincoln Financial Field was the home of the Temple University Owls and no one else. A refreshing site for any fan of Temple and college football. Players on this Temple team have experienced a two win season and an empty stadium for home games, and zero support from their fellow students. Now they are heroes on campus and known by name out of uniform. What this team has experienced the past week has been nothing short of incredible and once in a lifetime for all Temple faithful. For one night, Philadelphia was a Saturday City.