The Temple football program has come a long way. When I was walking the North Broad Street pavement as a student in Owl Country, we suffered through some daunting days as the school played out their run in the Big East.
Here and now, five straight winning seasons and the subsequent Bowl berths -- and the money that goes with that -- has the Owls establishing new heights on the field, churning out professional players at a steady clip. Just this week the team cleared a big hurdle in starting their 2020 season Oct. 10th.
But it's not just players coming out of the program these days. Coaches too. This Sunday, for the first time in school history, two former Temple head coaches will go head to head in the NFL when Matt Rhule leads the Carolina Panthers, against Bruce Arians’ Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Temple student and Owl Sports Update reporter Chris Bogardus joined the Panthers Zoom press conference and deftly asked Rhule about the significance of the matchup.
"Coach Arians gave me a tremendous piece of advice when I first took the job at Temple," Rhule said. "He said don't pay attention to what you don't have. Don't pay attention to what the weight room looks like. Pay attention to what you do have. And Temple's greatest asset is its people.
"I found that to be true, and what's unique is, when I was the head coach there, we had some down times, we had some great times. It was the guys who played for Coach Arians, the guys who played for Coach [Wayne] Hardin and many more. Those guys were instrumental in giving back to the program."
Rhule always had a way with capturing emotion with his words. He seemed caught off guard by the question but his response really speaks to the level of adoration he has for his time and experience at Temple. Rhule left the school abruptly, but inevitably, for a bigger program at Baylor University in 2016. He fast tracked his way to the NFL from there.
Arians left Temple in 1988 and bounced around between college and the pros as an assistant and coordinator. He wasn’t the head coach of another team until he led the Arizona Cardinals for five seasons starting in 2013.
The NFC South matchup featuring these two former Owls front men kicks off at 1pm on Sunday. I think any Temple fans watching will take pleasure in the significance of the matchup, even if you’ll probably only flick back and forth during commercials for the Eagles game who lock horns with the Rams in South Philly at the same time.