NEW YORK -- A decade ago, Temples football team was so bad, the Big East couldnt wait to banish the Owls.
You know, we didnt deserve, truthfully, to be in the football competition in those years, said Temple Board of Trustees member Lewis Katz, chairman of the schools athletic committee. But its hard to get kicked out.
On Wednesday, after months of speculation, Temple and its resurgent football program were welcomed back into the Big East Conference. Temple will begin competing in the Big East in football in 2012-13 and in all other sports in 2013-14 (see financial breakdown).
Were going to kick Notre Dames butt next year, Katz said Wednesday, apparently not realizing Temple doesnt play Notre Dame until 2014.
We have a football program. We have a real football program.
Until 2009, Temple had played in just two bowl games -- the Sugar Bowl in 1935 and the long-defunct Garden State Bowl at the Meadowlands in 1979.
But the Owls were selected to bowl games following both the 2009 and 2011 seasons, losing to UCLA in the EagleBank Bowl in Washington, D.C., in 2009 and then beating Wyoming this past year in the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque in Steve Addazios first season as head coach.
For us as a football program and a university, as an all-sports athletic program, we know how well-respected the Big East is and how powerful the Big East is and what the Big East value and name and brand is throughout the whole country, Addazio said at a press conference at Madison Square Garden, held in conjunction with the Big East basketball tournament.
I cant wait to have an opportunity to fly and go play the teams across the country like Boise and San Diego and Houston. Its exciting. College football is expanding in a whole new way right now, and theres a lot of great times and great new rivalries to be forged as we move forward here.
After 21 years as an independent, Temple spent the 1991 through 2004 seasons as a football-only member of the Big East. Temple went 30-126 in its 14 years in the Big East, including an 8-58 mark from 1991 through 1996.
The Big East voted in 2002 to boot Temple, whose other athletic teams have played in the Atlantic 10 since 1982.
Following their ouster, the Owls played an independent schedule for two years, then spent five years in the Mid-American Conference. The last three years in the MAC, Temple went 9-4 and 8-4 under Al Golden and then 9-4 this past year under coach Steve Addazio. Golden, who really oversaw Temples return to football prominence, is now head coach at Miami.
I just want to make this point: Where we are right now, were not trying to fumble around and see if we can find our way into major-college football, Addazio said. This is a plan thats been going on for quite some time.
Its an exciting time for Temple. Its an exciting time for the Big East. ... Were going to run a classy, first-class program, everything done the right way and exciting times ahead.
Temple has made major upgrades to its athletic facilities and is building a new football building on the schools North Philly campus, due to be completed on July 1. The Owls play their home games at Lincoln Financial Field.
Temple competes in 22 NCAA sports, with about 700 student athletes participating on the varsity level.
Our decision to invite Temple was based on a number of important factors, including its long-standing tradition as a basketball powerhouse, its renewed commitment to competing at the highest level in football, and the greatest value in adding the Philadelphia television market to our football footprint, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto said.
It was in Nov. 2010 that Marinatto met secretly with Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw at the State Line Diner in Mahwah, N.J. -- right on the New York-New Jersey border -- to first discuss Temples possible entry into the Big East.
At the crack of down, Bradshaw said. It was a terrific meeting but it was very preliminary. I would just call it sort of an introductory meeting to share some ideas, some thoughts about the future.
Sixteen months later, Temple is finally a member of the Big East.
Were very, very grateful and appreciative of the opportunity, Bradshaw said. Were excited about the future.
One interesting side note of all this is that Addazio will now be coaching against his son Louie, whos a tight end at Syracuse.
We already started that teasing back and forth, the elder Addazio said. He said, Dad, I cant talk to you that week. His mother might not talk to me. But were excited about it. Obviously, its a father-son, but theres families, theres husbands and wives, who went to one school, who goes to another. Its what makes college football great.
Theres going to be exciting times ahead on a lot of fronts for a lot of people, so I cant wait to see it unfold.
E-mail Reuben Frank at email@example.com.