Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Temple making its mark in Pennsylvania
By Matt Fortuna
Steve Addazio took the Temple head-coaching job just before the calendar turned to 2011, hoping the Owls could eventually land where they sit 21 months later, in the Big East. With that goal came making a name for itself within Pennsylvania, something the school validated to some degree in Friday's opener, its third straight win over crosstown rival Villanova.
Temple coach Steve Addazio has his sights set on making a mark in the Big East and in Pennsylvania.
The 41-10 rout in the final Mayor's Cup contest gave Temple its fifth straight win dating back to last season — which, surprisingly enough, makes the Owls the active owner of the Big East's longest winning streak. Perhaps more importantly, however, was what transpired the next afternoon and evening, three and six hours West of the Philadelphia campus, respectively.
The Bill O'Brien era at Penn State, already hamstrung by severe NCAA sanctions, began with a 10-point home loss to Mid-American Conference contender Ohio. Roughly six hours later, coach Paul Chryst's debut at Pitt was met with a two-touchdown home loss to Youngstown State, an FCS school.
The losses by the old guard of Pennsylvania football marked the first time in 45 years that the Nittany Lions and the Panthers dropped their openers in the same weekend that the Owls won theirs, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Joe Paterno was in just his second season as Penn State's head coach on Sept. 23, 1967, losing to Navy in the opener. Pitt fell to UCLA that same day, with Temple taking care of business against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
So yes, things have taken quite the quick turn in the Keystone State.
Since Addazio was hired at Temple in December 2010, Penn State has had three different game head coaches. Pitt has had four, not including the two-week, post-2010 regular-season reign of Mike Haywood.
"Well obviously I really took this job with the intent that we'd be where we are right now — hoping that we could get into the Big East, hoping that we could continue great success with our new facilities which are now complete," Addazio said. "Obviously with all of that, [we] have a great opportunity to make our mark within the state of Pennsylvania, and that's a great thing."
"I think this is certainly a state that embraces football, college football," Addazio added. "We're a great opportunity here for someone who wants to play BCS-level football in the fourth-largest media market in the country."
Interconference matchups with Maryland and Penn State await Temple in its next two games before it begins Addazio's first Big East slate. The Nittany Lions? They travel to Virginia and host Navy before the Owls come to town, while the Panthers have a quick turnaround Thursday at Cincinnati in the Bearcats' opener before hosting ACC power Virginia Tech.
So yes, it is easy to look to the near future and let the mind wander a bit: Could a changing of the guard be on the horizon in Pennsylvania?
Don't look to Addazio, who has that Sept. 22 date at Beaver Stadium in the back of his mind.
A win, after all, would be even bigger history than this past weekend's, as Temple has not beaten Penn State in 71 years.
"I follow Penn State, obviously we play them in a couple weeks," Addazio said. "I don't know what happened at the end but we play them a little later in the season, so certainly right now, my focus is on Maryland. But we have a bye week, and then we play Penn State. So Penn State's right there on the periphery and that's been such a big game in Temple's recent history here, so it's something that has our attention."