Bernard Pierce's Temple Career in Numbers

Bernard Pierce's Temple Career in Numbers

Running back Bernard Pierce's decision late last evening to leave Temple University for the NFL Draft after his junior season came as virtually no surprise. In fact, it would have been a surprise had he chosen to stay. 
Temple fans, Owls beat writers and university officials themselves knew there was a substantial chance that the New Mexico Bowl would be Bernard's last game in a Temple uniform. As we wrote over a month ago, the next time you see Pierce at Lincoln Financial Field, it'll be on a Sunday (unless, of course, he's a part of future Saturday Wild Card Weekend games...or Monday Night games...or, as commenter "TU11" reminded just reminded us, Thursday Night games — just covering our bases here).
Anyway, with Bernard's career at Temple now behind him, we thought, better than writing some long-winded retrospective about existence and meaning and whatever else I usually do when I feel the urge to wax philosophic about Temple football, to provide you with the full slate of Pierce's record-breaking accomplishments, and to weigh those against the feats of some of the best runners in the nation.
Bernard Pierce in numerals and an analysis of his draft stock after the jump...
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Temple University Single Season Records Set by Pierce:

— Most rushing touchdowns (27)
— Most total touchdowns (27)
— Most points scored (162)
— Most 100-yard games (9)

Temple Owl Single Game Records Set by Pierce:

— Most rushing touchdowns (5)
— Most points scored (30)

Temple University Career Records Set by Pierce:

— Most rushing touchdowns (53)
— Most total touchdowns (54)
— Most points scored (324)
— Second-most rushing yards (3,470 — Trails only Paul Palmer's 4,895)
— Second-most 100-yard games (18 — Trails only Paul Palmer's 21)

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For much of the early season, especially after his five touchdown outburst in the Maryland game, Pierce was leading the nation in rushing touchdowns, ahead of even Wisconsin's Montee Ball who would ultimately challenge Barry Sander's all-time record for rushing scores in a season. By season's end, Pierce's 27 running touchdowns would trail only Ball's 33, putting the Temple back second in the nation in that category. He would fall just out of the top 10—12th and 13th—in yards per attempt and attempts per game.
Critics will argue that Pierce's success was inflated thanks the lesser status of the MAC conference and that his numbers, both nationally and in the school's all-time record books, are consequently misleading. Such an argument is really quite amusing to anyone who has actually seen him play football. As Temple head coach Steve Addazio puts it, "He's got speed. He's got size. He's got make you miss." Really, Bernard has absolutely every tool to succeed in the NFL, except for maybe just one: durability.
If there's a knock against Pierce, its been his troubles staying healthy. Not once in his three-year college career did he manage to play in every game in a season. His sophomore campaign was so riddled with injury issues that one wondered whether Bernard could ever reach his true potential. Thankfully for him, his junior season was a welcome return to form. Staying mostly healthy in 2011 allowed him to break some of the school records he had already set when he was also mostly healthy as a freshman in 2009.
For the most part, Bernard's astonishing success when on the field and his increased time actually on that field over this past season has worked to quell some of those durability concerns. Nonetheless, there is no way Pierce's prior injury issues did not play a substantial part in his decision to leave school. Projected in private by a coach as a third-round pick, the same as Ball before he ultimately decided to return to school, Bernard obviously had that same option to come back to school, set some more records, and further improve his draft stock. That said, yet another injury, especially a serious one, would only have decreased, rather than increased, his draft value. 
In the meantime, he will obviously have the opportunity to move himself up the board with strong performances at the combine and in pre-draft workouts. Should ultimately wind up a third-rounder as projected, he will be of a high value for the team who ultimately takes him.
As for the school he's leaving, replacing one of the program's all-time greats will be added to the list of issues facing the Temple program in the coming years. Without Pierce, it will be up to Steve Addazio and the Temple staff to build on this program's momentum, momentum generated with great help from Bernard himself. 

Sixers fail to take care of business against Denver Nuggets

Sixers fail to take care of business against Denver Nuggets

It really felt like we could've gotten this one. The Denver Nuggets are hardly pushovers, but they came into this one a 7-13 team that'd lost their last three games, and even last night they seemed fairly beatable, even for a Philadelphia 76ers team still missing Robert Covington (in additional to our usual mini-roster of absentees). But Philly's energy sagged in the third quarter as Denver caught a second wind, and they spent the final frame hitting shots that the Sixers couldn't answer. Final score: Nuggets 106, 76ers 98. 

The most sobering part of the loss was that Joel Embiid finally played what would best be described as "a bad game." Not that bad, of course — even at his worst, Joel still managed 16 points and notched career-high five blocks. But he only shot 5-15 from the field, turned ball over three times, grabbed just four boards and played a large part in the sinkhole offense that the Sixers played in the late third and early fourth that ultimately cost them this one. JoJo still has trouble reading double teams and knowing when not to attack into traffic, and his frustration was extremely evident as he kept trying to do too much and paying the price for it. 

Nonetheless, even with an off Embiid night and a still-slumping Sauce — officially down to Left in the Car Overnight temperature after a night of 4 points on 1-7 shooting in 35 minutes — Philly probably still coulda gotten this one. Sergio Rodriguez appears to have swiped Nik's swag at least temporarily, with a season-high 17 points on 7-14 shooting to go with seven dimes and three steals, while Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova also poured in 17 and 8 each, and the Nuggets wings were largely kept quiet for two and a half quarters. But even while struggling, the Nuggets paraded their way to free-throw line — 34 FTAs for the night, including 12 for Danilo Gallinari alone — and once they caught fire late, the Sixers just couldn't keep up. 

A bummer for a team that's now lost seven in a row, and has to face the Grizzlies tonight in Memphis — their fourth game in five nights, and the first of a three-game road trip — without Embiid and also without Jahlil Okafor, out with illness. Even with the Grizz missing their own big names (no Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Zach Randolph or Vince Carter lately) and likely suffering from fatigue of their own after a double-OT road win last night in New Orleans, the 4-17 Sixers are gonna have a tough go matching Memphis' grit and grind tonight. Anytime you feel like Supermanning in and saving the day now would be cool, Nerlens Noel. Just sayin'.

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Elton Brand is back with the Sixers, albeit not on the court.

The Sixers agreed with the former NBA forward to name Brand Player Development Consultant. In a press release, the team said Brand will be working with Sixers players in 'every facet of their on- and off-court development' while also working in the front office.

“We are extremely excited to bring Elton Brand back into the organization where he will be a valuable resource to our young and developing team," Bryan Colangelo said in the release. "Elton’s leadership and character displayed throughout his playing career as a player align perfectly with our vision, direction and culture of this basketball team, coaching staff and management group."

Brand retired during training camp after 17 NBA seasons, including five with the Sixers over two stints. The 6-foot-8 forward came out of retirement last season to provide a veteran presence for the Sixers and eventually played in 17 games when the team was snakebitten by injuries. 

He will now continue to be an influence on the Sixers' young core thanks to his new role with the basketball operations department.