By Joseph Santoliquito
Al Golden’s approach comes in a syrupy, mom, dad, and apple pie package, filled with hokey sing-songs of High Hopes after victories. Each rousing chorus penetrates the walls of the adjacent press room each time the Owls win. It doesn’t matter. What does is that they’re eating it up down North Broad Street. The Temple ‘T’ logo has been a symbol of basketball excellence for years. And for the last 30 or so years, it’s been nothing but a football scarlet letter. Golden is changing all of that. He’s turned a once-dormant program into something respectable, and though Temple will never be Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame or Alabama on the college football landscape, any little inch forward is light years ahead of where the Temple program once was not that long ago.
Another of those small steps occurred Thursday night, when the Owls won their first-ever overtime game (since the NCAA instituted overtime in 1996, Temple had gone 0-6 in overtime games), beating Central Michigan, 13-10, in a rather sloppy MAC affair at Lincoln Financial Field, before 15,152. Like the Owls’ comeback fourth-quarter victory over Villanova last week, this Temple win was tinged with some excitement, and it marked the first time Temple has started a season 2-0 since 1981.
The Owls have a chance to extend that to 3-0, which would mark the first time that’s happened since the Owls’ bowl year of 1979, when they host Connecticut next week at the Linc.
But this step Thursday night had to be taken before thinking of the next move. It appears the biggest step toward respectability is already in place with the rosy-cheeked Golden.
Temple would frequently lose games like the one played against Central Michigan. Well, we’re actually being kind. Before Golden arrived, the Owls would always lose games like this one. Fumbles at crucial times in the game. Missed field goals. Key players going down. Temple had it all, and the Owls remained undaunted. They have a sophomore kicker who exists on ice water in Brandon McManus. Quarterback Chester Stewart has shown some poise. Bernard Pierce, who hurt his left hand and left the game in the third quarter against Central Michigan, is only going to get stronger as the season progresses.
It’s been slow coming. But Temple has something pretty good in Golden. The only major concern is how long he’ll be able to apply his golden touch.