Athletic Supporters: Temple v. Maryland off the Court and in the Stands

Athletic Supporters: Temple v. Maryland off the Court and in the Stands

For Nick Menta's recap of Temple's 73-60 win over Maryland on Saturday, click here.

Make it a clean sweep for the Temple University Owls over Maryland Terrapins, with decisive victories on both the football field and the basketball court within the last four months.

Maryland, best known recently as Under Armour's attempted equivalent to Nike's Oregon, is now 0-3 against Temple over the last two years, counting their Dec. 2010 basketball loss to the Owls in addition to the two games mentioned above.

And while these two programs are surely differentiable on the scoreboard when pitted head-to-head, they're differentiated in other ways off of it -- and in ways far less flattering for Temple.

For much of the early going on Saturday, it appeared as though Maryland had actually outdrawn Temple in a building approximately two hours from their College Park campus, a building just a brief subway ride from Temple's personal SEPTA stop at Broad and Cecil B Moore.

Finally, at the beginning of the second half, the corners of Temple's section of the Palestra filled in to solidify the sell out. There are myriad of potential reasons for the late-arriving crowd, with Saturday morning's troublesome snow storm at the very top of the list.

Nonetheless, the trademark Maryland "OH!" during the national anthem -- which the anthemist handled flawlessly, by the way -- was a jarring reminder of how far Temple still has to come when it comes to drawing a major -- and not mid-major -- fan base.

Really, there are very few schools in this country who can claim a prouder basketball tradition than Temple (The Owls' boast the sixth most wins Division I Men's Basketball history). Still, the school seems to have issues drawing on its own.

Sure, it makes sense that the Owls' biggest crowds come against their strongest opponents and their local rivals, but the drop off from Temple and Duke to Temple and the average opponent is sharper than it should be.

For reference, Temple basketball finished 90th in the nation in average attendance in 2011, drawing 5,925 per game. That number was good enough fifth in the Atlantic 10 and represents just under 60% of the Liacouras Center's total capacity for basketball.

By comparison, the Maryland Terrapins of the ACC finished 14th in the nation, drawing over 14,000 per game.

I will preface with the following concessions. First, of course Maryland is going to outdraw Temple as a result of the disparities between the ACC and A10 schedules. Second, of the four A10 schools to outdraw Temple in 2011 -- Dayton, Xavier, Charlotte and Richmond -- there is no immediate, or at least only one, other basketball alternative in the market.

But let's be honest, the basketball alternatives in the city of Philadelphia really shouldn't be an obstacle for the Owls. Temple University boasts a full student body of 37,000. The school has an alumni base of more than 250,000, many of whom still reside in the city limits or its immediate suburbs.

Moreover, Temple has consistently ranked within the Top 25 in the nation over the past three seasons, and has made four straight NCAA tournament appearances. They are, at minimum, a Top 30 program. They only happen to draw like a school who just manages to squeak into the NIT each season.

Temple has the student body and alumni base to rival almost any Division I institution, but generally lacks a unifying campus culture. As the school becomes increasingly residential and less commuter-driven in the coming years, perhaps the culture will change -- or, in this case, form. Maybe a greater pride or the university and its athletic programs -- a pride common in so many other major universities, like Maryland -- will spring forth.

But in the meantime, the Temple athletic department will be forced to soldier on with a major college program represented by a mid-major fan base. Temple can continue to beat the best in the nation -- knocking off four AP Top 10 programs in the last four seasons and going 5-1 against the Big East and ACC combined over the last two years -- but it won't be their on-the-floor resume that's bumps them to a bigger, better conference any time soon. On that front, they'll need their student body and alumni to start supporting both the football and basketball programs in greater numbers.

On the court, the Owls have no reason to Fear the Turtle; but off it, they have every reason to envy the supportive culture which surrounds the Maryland Terrapins.

Wayne Simmonds gets engaged during Flyers' bye week

Wayne Simmonds gets engaged during Flyers' bye week

So far, 2017 has been a pretty big year for Wayne Simmonds.
 
In addition to being named to his first All-Star team this year, Simmonds clearly had big plans on how to spend his bye week away from hockey, before returning to play the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. He popped the question to his girlfriend, Crystal Corey, and she said yes.
 
Simmonds announced the engagement on his Instagram.

11,700 feet and she said YES! I Love you @cryscorey đź’›#SimmondsandSimmonds

A photo posted by Wayne Simmonds (@wayne17simmonds) on

Simmonds is the second Flyer to get engaged this season after Claude Giroux popped the question in December.
 
Congratulations, Wayne!

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, C: Cash money or Kelce?

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, C: Cash money or Kelce?

Time to talk everybody's favorite Eagles whipping boy, or one of them in Jason Kelce, who's viewed very differently by fans than he is his peers. Case in point, it might surprise some readers to learn Kelce was named a second alternate to the Pro Bowl for 2016, which means a lot of NFL players and coaches must've been voting for him.

We know Eagles fans weren't coming out in droves. Yet if we were to go off of only the respect people around the league have for Kelce, he's considered one of the top eight centers in football. That ranking also happens to be roughly commensurate with his salary cap hit for 2017, which is currently 10th at the position, according to OverTheCap.

That's still going to be high for many critics that say Kelce is too undersized and has become too frequently penalized in recent years. It's especially high when you tell some of those same people the Eagles could save nearly $4 million by going in a different direction.

The trade or release of Kelce would free up $3.8 million to be exact, although once again, that's before we consider the cost of replacing him. And unlike other areas of the Eagles roster, there really isn't a young prospect waiting in the wings to take over, even somebody who is maybe only a year away from being ready to take over.

So if the Eagles were to get rid of Kelce, they would have to pay somebody to replace him. Granted, only 14 centers carry a higher cap number, and many starters make half of the six-year veteran's money, so there are cheaper options available — although, what kind of quality is the offense getting for that price?

Kelce is a perfect example of when the grass isn't always greener. There are some big, mauling centers around the NFL, like the Pouncey brothers, and who doesn't love that? But while Kelce isn't necessarily going to rip anybody's spine out at the point of attack, there probably isn't a better center in the league at pulling or blocking at the second and third levels. He's a unique player from that perspective, something people tend to forget.

The Eagles are not going to upgrade the position by going significantly cheaper. Kelce can hold his own in pass protection, and he's elite when the play design allows him to get into space. There's also something to be said for his knowledge of the offense, in addition to the rapport he's building with Carson Wentz.

Best case scenario, the Eagles are probably replacing him with Stefan Wisniewski, who the club paid $2.76 million in 2016. Figuring a raise, that's most of their cap savings right there, and Wisniewski is not nearly as decorated or so widely respected by his peers. There must be a reason for that.

Kelce is pretty good.

CENTERS UNDER CONTRACT

Jason Kelce
Age: 30*
Cap Number: $6,200,000

The bigger issue with Kelce is he's approaching his 30th birthday this year, although many centers enjoy lengthy careers, especially the guys who play more of a finesse game. And if the Eagles do want to start thinking about the future, it might help if they begin developing his replacement now. Kelce will be much easier to move on from in 2018 in terms of the salary cap, so if the Eagles draft somebody this year, theoretically they could move on next season. Keep in mind, Kelce was a sixth-round pick, and the club got a lot of mileage out of him, so it doesn't have to be a major investment. Plus, if that doesn't work out, renegotiation could be on the table, with Kelce's cap hit reaching $7.2 million in '18, but only $1.2 million of prorated signing bonus left on a contract that runs through 2020. The Eagles will be looking to reduce their costs, while Kelce will want some financial security.

Josh Andrews
Age: 26*
Cap Number: $615,000

Andrews joined the Eagles as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State in 2014, and after a few years of clinging to the practice squad and on the 53-man roster as a reserve, finally saw his first action on offense this season. He played one snap at center against the Ravens in Week 15. Andrews can also line up at guard and has played special teams, though spent most of '16 inactive. He seems like a bit of a Chip Kelly outcast at this point, although it's difficult to put him in a box with so little actual experience. Is Andrews somebody who simply hasn't been given an opportunity and could fill in capably for Kelce, or will the Eagles feel the need to find competition for his roster spot?

Aaron Neary
Age: 25*

Neary originally joined the Broncos roster as an undrafted rookie, but found his way to the Eagles practice squad following his release. The Eastern Washington prospect was a two-time All-American at the Division I-AA level. At 6-foor-1, 305 pounds, Neary is considered undersized, like Kelce, which suggests this organization wants nimble centers like that. While he's probably a ways away from having any impact, the Eagles signed Neary to a futures contract at the conclusion of the season.

* Age as of 12/31/2017