Admittedly a dreamer, not even Steve Addazio could have foreseen this. He knew Temple was heading on the right track when he took over the reins from Al Golden.
Temple is coming off a 9-4 season, one that ended with the program’s first bowl win since 1979. But all that has followed, including the chance to return to the Big East and compete on a national level … well, you can only dream so big.
“I don’t think in my career I’ve seen a faster growing college football program in the country,” said Addazio. “When I look back to where we were one year ago and where we are today it’s beyond what I can sit here and tell you.
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“It’s tremendous what’s happened here in a year, from the season we had, to our recruiting, to changes on campus, to the Big East conference. But after you get rid of that little dream, here’s the reality of Year Two. Where we’ve been and where we’ve come is phenomenal, but we’ve got to keep going.”
With Villanova coming off a disastrous 2-9 season, Addazio said he expects Andy Talley’s club to be a lot better (the Wildcats return 20 starters). But the Temple coach is quick to point out Temple brings back only nine starters, among them quarterback Chris Coyer and running back Mack Brown, who managed to gain 916 yards as second option to now-NFL rookie Bernard Pierce.
At the same time, it’s clear Temple is on a different level from the Wildcats, which is probably why the Mayor’s Cup is being abandoned after a four-year run. As good as it might be to stoke college football fever in the area, there’s little upside to be gained for the Owls.
Of course, Addazio doesn’t want his players thinking that way, with their Big East debut — vs. South Florida — still more than a month away.
“The competition is great for Philadelphia,” said Addazio. “An intense city rivalry games makes for good football. I don’t know the details [why the series wasn’t extended]. Certainly, on Temple’s side, we’d love to keep playing that game.”
As for Friday no, the Owls don’t need to make a “statement.” They just need to win.
“Somehow, some way, we just need to have one more point,” said Addazio, whose next order of business will be Maryland, followed by a trip to Penn State. “I don’t care what it looks like. At the end of the game, we need to be singing that fight song in the locker room.”
It figures to be a familiar refrain for the Owls this year.
City rivalry at a glance
With this marking the final year of the Mayor’s Cup series, we take a quick look back. Overall, Villanova leads the all-time rivalry, 16-14-2. The first meeting was a 0-0 tie back in 1928. Here are the last three Mayor’s Cup results:
» Sept. 3, 2009, Villanova 27, Temple 24: The Owls blew a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead and watched Nick Yako boot a 32-yard field goal to win it as time expired.
» Sept. 3, 2010, Temple 31, Villanova 24: In another see-saw game, Brandon McManus nailed a 43-yard field goal with three seconds left to give Temple the victory.
» Sept. 1, 2011, Temple 42, Villanova 7: In the first rout in the series, Bernard Pierce ran for 147 yards and three scores. The Owls led 21-0 early and never trailed.