Temple, Addazio to make conference debut against South Florida

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Steve Addazio last experienced Big East competition more than a decade ago when he coached the Syracuse offensive linemen and tight ends from 1995 to 1998.Now 14 years later, as the second-year head coach at Temple, he gets another chance. And he thinks the Owls deserve to play there.“I think it’s special,” Addazio said during the Big East coaches’ teleconference on Monday. “There’s no question; we’re extremely excited to be in here. We should be in the Big East, we’re in a position to be in the Big East and we’re going to have an opportunity here to recruit through the Big East.”The return to the Big East is special for both Addazio and the Owls, which will open its conference season on Saturday afternoon against South Florida. Temple last played in the Big East in the 2004 season, when it was asked to leave the conference for failing to meet criteria regarding attendance, facilities and other factors. Temple spent 2005 and 2006 as an independent before spending five seasons in the Mid-American Conference.For Addazio, the MAC provided plenty of good competition, just not at the consistency of the Big East.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“The top-end teams in the MAC are outstanding teams,” Addazio said. “It just doesn’t have the same (consistency) top to bottom. The Big East has some elite teams, and even when you’re coming down, you’re still playing some fantastic football teams.”In their last Big East stint, the Owls often struggled to stay competitive. Temple went 1-12 in conference play over its last two seasons, with a lone 34-24 win over Syracuse. The team’s fortunes didn’t exactly improve after leaving the conference, though, as Temple went 0-11 in 2005 — losing its 11 games by a combined 391 points.The 2005 season was the last for former Temple head coach Bobby Wallace, who went 19-71 in seven seasons at Temple with a 10-39 mark in Big East play. Wallace now coaches at North Alabama and maintains that he enjoyed his time at Temple, despite the struggles.Wallace breaks up his time at Temple into two distinct segments. For the first few years, he saw slow and steady improvement, with his team winning four games in each of three consecutive seasons from 2000 to 2002.The student makeup of the Philadelphia campus was shifting from commuter-based to residential, aided by school initiatives to make Temple more student-friendly. The team’s increased performance paralleled the increase in campus connectivity, Wallace said.“There was a lack of facilities at first, on campus,” Wallace said. “But then they started adding dorms, and different things like restaurants and cleaners. There was a real improvement, and we got better as a team.”But it was too late for Wallace and the Owls, who were informed in 2001 that they would be asked to leave the conference. The team was forced to play its last few Big East seasons not knowing where its home would be in the future.Recruiting became a struggle, and Wallace found himself focusing on junior colleges as his recruiting base. The team’s talent level fell and performance plummeted in a hurry.“When we got demoted from the Big East, things went south pretty quick,” Wallace said. “We had a vague idea where we were going, not knowing whether we were going to play football or not. We went the junior-college route (for recruiting) the last few years, and that was not the answer.”Temple found its level in the MAC, though, and things slowly started to improve under new coach Al Golden. The Owls increased their win total every year from 2006 to 2009, culminating with a nine-win season in 2009 and Eagle Bank Bowl appearance against UCLA.Golden left for Miami (Fla.) after the 2010 season and Addazio took over. Under its new head coach, Temple quickly notched a nine-win season and New Mexico Bowl victory in 2011. Back from the abyss, the Owls embark this weekend on a new opportunity to prove themselves against BCS-conference opposition.Despite the learning curve, the Owls pose a test for conference opposition in terms of familiarity. Leading into most conference games, teams prepare for each other using game film acquired in prior years. This year, Big East teams won’t have that same luxury when playing Temple.For South Florida coach Skip Holtz, it’s an added test as he prepares his team for Saturday.“It makes it a little bit harder,” Holtz said during the teleconference. “You can watch things on film, but you don’t have a very good idea of how your players measure up with theirs. This is just the first game, so you don’t have a lot of information to draw on.”After a season-opening victory over crosstown rival Villanova, the Owls have dropped two consecutive decisions to Maryland and Penn State.Addazio doesn’t expect things to be easy for Temple as the team transitions to a higher level of competition. He knows that wins in the MAC may not translate to wins in the Big East, and he wants to make sure his team is prepared for that.“We have to learn week in and week out to play our very best,” Addazio said. “There are no games that you’re walking into saying, ‘If everything goes the way it’s supposed to, we can probably get that game.’ They don’t exist. What you’re in is just a complete dogfight each week, which is the way it’s supposed to be.”Game of the WeekConnecticutat No. 22 Rutgers, Saturday, noon, ESPNUThe Scarlet Knights return home to put their perfect record on the line against the Huskies. Rutgers is coming off a bye week after back-to-back road wins over South Florida and Arkansas. Jawan Jamison leads the RU ground game with 491 yards, helping support a stingy defense that ranks 21st in the country averaging 310 yards allowed per game.Paul Pasqualoni’s Connecticut defense has performed even better, allowing an average of 242.6 yards per game, currently atop the Big East and sixth in the country. The Huskies completed their nonconference slate at 3-2 after a 24-17 win over Buffalo last Saturday and look to make a quick statement in conference play against Rutgers. Comments Published on October 3, 2012 at 2:26 am Contact Kevin: [email protected]last_img

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