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.

Doug Pederson admits 'not everybody' played hard in loss

Doug Pederson admits 'not everybody' played hard in loss

Doug Pederson’s press conference was humming along as expected on Monday morning, the day after the team’s 32-14 loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati. 

Like he did minutes after the game, Pederson again expressed the idea that the Eagles didn’t lose for lack of effort. 

“I didn’t see any quit in the guys,” he said several different ways throughout the 19-minute session with reporters. 

The effort’s there. There’s no quit. 

Those are the types of responses we’ve become accustomed to hearing from Pederson over the last couple of weeks after embarrassing losses. And it looked like that was how Monday was going to end, with that same message being repeated ad nauseum. 

Until Pederson made a shocking admission. 

Could he honestly say every one of his players played hard against Cincinnati?

“Not everybody,” he said. “Not everybody, and that's the accountability that I talk about. You know, I hold coaches accountable for that. I hold myself accountable for that because it all starts with me and I pride myself each week to make sure the guys are ready to go. 
 
“But at the same time, it comes down to a mentality by each individual player. You know, this is a business where we have to be ready to go every single weekend because every team in the league -- I mean, there's some teams that are better than others, obviously -- but for the most part, anything can happen each weekend.”
 
Not everybody. The admission of that fact is far more shocking than the reality. Fans who watched Sunday’s game will probably be able to pinpoint several plays where one or more Eagles might not have given full effort. 
 
But for a first-year head coach to come out and admit it in public is rare. Perhaps Pederson felt emboldened to say something because he’s been assured of his status within the organization (see story). On Monday, he said he “for sure” thinks his job is secure after this season based on reassurance from Jeff Lurie and Howie Roseman. 
 
While Pederson said it publicly, the conversation between him and his players about accountability will continue. It’s seems unlikely Pederson will take it a step further by cutting or benching players, but his team will definitely hear the message its head coach put out on Monday. 
 
While Pederson commented that “not everybody” played hard, it seems like he’s convinced that portion of the team is the minority. Overall, he’s still convinced that guys are buying in. The reason he gave was the feedback he’s been getting back from his leadership council (a group of veteran leaders he has depended on throughout the season). 
 
Earlier in the press conference, Pederson was asked about one play in particular, when Zach Ertz failed to block Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict as Carson Wentz scrambled for a 10-yard gain in the first quarter. The video shows Ertz making an effort to avoid the linebacker.
 
“Looking at the tape and watching where Carson was scrambling of course he was heading toward out of bounds and I think he just pulled off at that point,” Pederson said. “That’s all I can say. But I’m definitely going to ask him why.”

With a 5-7 record, the Eagles’ playoff chances are all but completely gone, so the last quarter of the season will be about effort, pride and finding out who wants to be back on the team in 2017. 

To end his press conference, Pederson was asked if this Eagles team needs to be “loved up” or if it’s time for some tough love.  

“I think it's both. I think it's both,” he said. “I think there's a level of that tough love. There's got to be that accountability that I was talking about. You know, I implore and I challenge the leaders of the football team to stand up and really not only hold themselves [accountable] but the rest of the team. Listen, it's not a panic move or anything like that, but just, ‘Hey, let's just make sure we're doing things right.’ Everybody just do things right, do their jobs, do their assignments, you know, and good things are going to happen. 

“Obviously, again, it starts with me, and I've got to make sure that I'm doing it right and I'm holding myself accountable, and as you mentioned earlier with Jeffrey and Howie, if they're holding me accountable and all that, that's where it starts, and then I relay that message to the assistants and on to the team.”

Doug Pederson says Lurie, Roseman have assured him job is safe

Doug Pederson says Lurie, Roseman have assured him job is safe

Head coach Doug Pederson, whose team has tumbled out of the NFC playoff race in recent weeks, said he’s been assured by the Eagles’ management team that he’ll be back for a second season in 2017.

Pederson said Monday he meets weekly with owner Jeff Lurie and executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman, who have told him his job is secure.

Asked if he believes his job is safe, Pederson answered, “For sure. Yeah.”

Asked if Lurie and Roseman — who, along with team president Don Smolenski, formed the search committee that hired Pederson — had emphasized that to him, Pederson responded, “Yes. Yes.”

The Eagles are 5-7 after a 3-0 start in Pederson’s first season as a head coach at any level above high scool.

And it’s not the 5-7 record that’s raised questions about Pederson, it’s the way the Eagles got there. They are 2-7 in their last nine games, and they’ve lost the last three by double digits. They’re 4-1 at home but 1-6 on the road with five straight losses.

Lurie has never fired a coach after his first season or even his second. He dismissed Chip Kelly with a week remaining on his deal, and hes fired Rich Kotite after his fourth year, Ray Rhodes after his third year and Andy Reid after his 14th season.

The last Eagles head coach who was one-and-done was Wayne Millner, who was fired and replaced by Bo McMillin 10 games into the 1951 season with the Eagles 2-8.

Sunday’s 32-14 loss to a 3-7-1 Bengals team was the Eagles’ worst this year. The Eagles trailed 19-0 at halftime and 29-0 in the third quarter.

Since their 3-0 start, the Eagles have the third-worst record in the NFL, ahead of only Kelly’s 49ers (0-9) and the Browns (0-9).

Pederson said all the feedback he’s gotten from Lurie and Roseman has been positive.

“From both of them, it's been 100-percent support on everything,” he said. “I meet with Jeffrey and Howie every week, and we discuss a lot of things and go over a lot of things, and every week it’s very positive.”

Unless the Eagles win out, this would become only the second season in franchise history they opened up 3-0 but didn’t finish with a winning record. The 1993 team was actually 4-0 before finishing 8-8.

The Eagles have never opened up 3-3 and finished with a losing record, but they’d have to go 3-1 the rest of the way to avoid that.

Meanwhile, Pederson, who has spoken lately about the Eagles’ being on a long-term building plan similar to the Raiders or Seahawks, said it’s not fair for any owner to make a coaching change after just one season.

“I just don't think, personally, you can base a guy's career on one season,” Pederson said. “I think you've got to give it time to develop. We have a rookie quarterback. We’ve got to have time to develop this quarterback. It just doesn't happen overnight.

“So by no means have they expressed anything to me, and it's been positive and very supportive.”

Neither Lurie nor Roseman regularly speaks with the media. An email for Roseman asking for a comment on Pederson's remarks was not immediately answered.