The Temple Owls have a story of redemption on their hands. They have been helpless to the brutal indifference that conference realignment can show to smaller schools. The Owls were unceremoniously kicked out of the Big East Conference during the conference’s golden age for poor performance from their athletic program. Temple’s football program, in particular, went a horrific 14-80 in conference play for their 14 years in the conference. They subsequently went the next seven years as an Independent and then joined the Mid-American Conference.
The Owls fortunes would change however in 2012 when they were brought back to the Big East Conference. While the football conference folded into the American Athletic Conference, Temple became a full member after being a part of the Atlantic-10 Conference in all non-football sports. This was a massive move and a slow climb back from the disgrace of being forced out due to performance. The Owls have proven to be a great addition to the AAC as they made up the four-headed attack the league had last year along with Houston, Memphis and Navy. The Owls were in the Top 25 to finish the regular season in 2015 and beat in-state rival Penn State while also playing No. 9 Notre Dame in a hard-fought loss that included a visit to Philadelphia by ESPN’s College Gameday.
It’s quite impressive what Temple has accomplished in recent years for being a once-disgraced football program. The Owls ceiling in the AAC seems to be entirely on them now and it’ll be intriguing to see what they can accomplish with this second chance.
Any college football fan knows where I’m going with these “mid-major” upstarts. Tom Herman has already been touted as one of the best coaching hires in college football. He has sparked energy into the Cougars and brought them a top-10 finish in his first year. They beat college football power Florida State handily and are positioned to have the same success under star QB Grey Ward Jr.
The success of Houston has been so impressive that there are even rumors that Houston could wind up in the Big XII if the conference decides to expand back to its namesake. That is an awfully impressive spin for a school that spent 16 years in Conference USA. Also, I’d just like to point out that apparently conference realignment was to really hike up the Texas schools because three of them (four if Baylor hadn’t acted like scumbags) showed up on this list.