|Feeling Golden: Terrible Temple on rare 2-game winning streak|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 19 October 2007 12:26|
Down in south Philadelphia, the Eagles (2-3) have their fans in a perpetual panic with a slow start that has them in last place in the NFC East.
It's championship or bust - or jump off the Ben Franklin - for their die-hards.
Travel about 7 miles north up Broad Street - you know, the main drag that hasn't felt the soft touch of that championship ticker tape in nearly 25 years - and a football renaissance may finally be under way at Temple.
The program once on the cusp of extinction, that was booted out of the Big East, and was winless two seasons ago is on a rare winning streak.
Two games, two wins.
OK, so the Owls (2-5, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) aren't ready to shake up the BCS standings quite yet. But after nearly two decades of some of the most futile football ever played, Temple's time at the bottom may be up. These Owls believe they can win and they go for three straight victories Saturday against Miami of Ohio.
``We're finally doing what we set out to do,'' Owls coach Al Golden said. ``We set out to win. We knew we were going to win. We just didn't know if the players knew they were going to win.''
Golden has led the turnaround in his second season at Temple, where he set out to transform the program from the smallest details all the way to the won-loss record. The uniforms were tweaked, players were held accountable in the classroom, and every player was expected to buy into Golden's way.
The Owls were still reeling from the abysmal Bobby Wallace era (19-71 from 1998-2005) when Golden, a former Penn State captain, was named to his first head coaching job.
The results on the field weren't immediately better: They had a 1-11 record, were shutout three times, and allowed 60-plus points three times last season.
``Competitiveness is something that's lacked here,'' Golden said. ``And belief, to be honest with you.''
In their first season as a full member of the MAC, the Owls started this season about as poorly as they have all the others. They lost their first five games - including a controversial loss at Connecticut - and it all seemed like the same ol' Owls.
One difference. These losses were competitive. Gone were the 30-point deficits in the first half and bumbling play that wouldn't have been accepted on a high school team. After the Owls were deflated over an apparent blown call at UConn, they were tied at halftime the next week at Bowling Green instead of feeling demoralized for the rest of the season.
The right attitude was there. The right results needed work.
``It's almost professional like,'' fullback Josh Bundy said.
The Owls broke through two weeks ago with a 16-15 victory over Northern Illinois. The win came at Lincoln Financial Field, the home they share with the NFL's Eagles, and was won on Jake Brownell's 39-yard field goal with 9 seconds left.
Hey, in the past the Owls would have stopped there. After all, they only have four wins the last four seasons, no winning record since 1990 and no bowl game since 1979.
Not this year. Temple followed up with a 24-20 victory last week at Akron. Adam DiMichele threw three fourth-quarter touchdowns to rally the Owls from a 17-point deficit.
``Two wins is not why I wanted to take this job,'' Golden said. ``This is just two wins right now.''
True, no one would celebrate a two-game winning streak at USC or South Be ... ah, bad example.
But consider this:
-The last time the Owls won two straight was in 2002.
-The last time the Owls won consecutive conference games was November 1967 when they beat Bucknell and Gettsyburg of the Middle Atlantic Conference.
-The Owls haven't won three straight since the end of the 1990 season, when they finished 7-4.
``The pressure is definitely off a lot now that we've started winning,'' Bundy said. ``It's such a great feeling. You want to work harder.''
Suddenly, the Owls are the big birds on campus.
``A week ago, it was a one-hit wonder, but when you win two, all of a sudden you have a lot more friends on campus,'' Golden said.
So while Golden wants to tune out all the adulation that comes with victory, he might like what he would hear.
These Owls aren't so terrible anymore.