|Rutgers and South Florida square off on national TV tonight.|
When Temple was in the MAC, the non-conference scheduling philosophy was pretty much this:
"We'll play anyone, anywhere," taking a page out of the book that John Chaney used to put Temple basketball back on the national map.
At the Big East press conference on March 12, Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw indicated that the strategy might change a little in future years due to the BCS nature of the new conference. The implication was clear. Temple would scale down the opponent, while trying to keep Penn State on future schedules.
That makes sense.
Still, I hope that Bradshaw doesn't go all Rutgers on us. (I think, due to Notre Dame's ACC deal, Temple will likely lose both back-end games of the three-year deal, one that was due to be played at Temple, but those are the breaks in this crazy conference shuffling era. So Temple will have to replace Notre Dame soon, probably with Villanova.)
Rutgers' philosophy under Greg Schiano was to play the worst 1AA team imaginable (think Norfolk State and North Carolina Central in past years and Howard this year), build some confidence and then attack the Big East schedule.
That philosophy has resulted in no (zero) Big East titles since, well, Rutgers got into the league.
Their fans, though, act like they've won multiple titles.
Right now, Temple plays arguably the toughest non-conference schedule in the Big East. Villanova is better than Howard. The Wildcats are also better than Tennessee-Chattanooga (a team South Florida played and beat, 37-15). Penn State could finish in the middle of the Big 10 pack. Maryland could be decent, although we'll find out if they are able to cover the 1 1/2-point spread vs. UConn this week. I'm not sold on Maryland. Temple made every football folly play imaginable lost by nine. In fact, I think Villanova is going to beat William and Mary by double digits this year and W&M held Maryland to seven points before losing to Lafayette, 17-14, last week.
The difference between W&M and Temple was that Bill and Mary blitzed on defense, while Temple didn't.
There are no Howards or Tennessee-Chatanoogas on Temple's schedule and I hope that helps the Owls come Oct. and Nov.
Rutgers played Tulane and won, 24-12, but Tulane went out and laid a 45-10 egg to Tulsa the next week. I like the Nevada team South Florida beat, 32-31, so I will have to take South Florida in tonight's game as well.
Temple will find out where it stands pretty much in the Big East when South Florida comes to town on Oct. 6.
Until then, though, tonight's game between Rutgers and South Florida might provide some valuable scouting film. Expect to see a lot of empty seats in Tampa, but that's seemingly only a story line written about when Temple plays home games. The non-conference schedule of both teams might be an indication of where Temple is headed in future years.
Just don't bring Howard, North Carolina Central, Norfolk State or Tennessee-Chatanooga to town, please.