By Joel Delgado ’12, MS ’17
In any football game, it’s important to know your opponent.
For FIU football, they will be spending the next two weeks studying film and preparing for the Temple Owls in what will be their biggest game of the season. The two teams will face off for the first time in the Gasparilla Bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Thursday, Dec. 21.
While the Panthers get ready to take on the Owls, we thought we’d help you learn a little bit more about our foes from Philadelphia.
Here are some fun Temple Owls facts you can share with your buddies at the Gasparilla Bowl tailgate:
1. Temple Head Coach Geoff Collins used to coach at FIU
The Gasparilla Bowl will be a reunion of sorts for Temple Head Coach Geoff Collins and FIU.
The fiery and sometimes quirky coach served as FIU’s defensive coordinator during the 2010 season, when the Panthers won the Sun Belt Conference championship and the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl against Toledo in Detroit. To date, it is FIU’s lone postseason victory and conference title.
In his only season on the FIU sidelines, the Panthers improved in every major statistical category and led the Sun Belt in total defense and scoring defense in a drastic turnaround from the year before.
After stints as a defensive coordinator at Mississippi State and Florida, he landed his first head coaching job in Temple last December and led the Owls to a 6-6 record in his first season.
He also really, really likes diet Mountain Dew, which he calls “green lightning.”
2. Temple has a “S.W.A.G. Coordinator” … and a Swag Chalice
Collins created a new position at Temple called a S.W.A.G. Coordinator – a “specialist with advanced graphics” – and made Dave Gerson this first person in college football to hold that title.
Gerson, who has been at Temple for several years, develops and showcase an array of graphic designs for social media usage.
And speaking of swag, take a look at their Swag Chalice, which sits behind Collins’ desk. Is there any other way to drink diet Mountain Dew?
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) May 10, 2017
3. The Owls became bowl eligible in their final regular season game
The Panthers punched their postseason ticket in early November when they knocked off UTSA in the team’s Homecoming Game.
The Owls path to bowl eligibility was a little more dramatic.
After a rough patch in the middle of the season when Temple lost four of five games, the Owls rallied and won three of their four remaining games, including a 43-22 victory at Tulsa in their final game of the season to clinch bowl eligibility for the fourth straight year.
Quarterback Frank Nutile provided a big spark for the Owls down the stretch, starting the final five games of the season and finishing with 11 touchdown passes and 1,346 yards passing.
The Gasparilla Bowl will be the seventh bowl game in Temple’s history. They have a 2-4 record in bowl games.
4. Temple’s been at this a tad bit longer than FIU
Just to put things in perspective: The Owls were playing college football two years before Miami was even officially incorporated as a city. We’ll say it again: The Owls were playing college football two years before Miami was even officially incorporated as a city. Temple’s first football game was played in 1894, a victory against Philadelphia Dental College.
5. Pop Warner was Temple’s second head coach
Today, the name Pop Warner is synonymous with youth football. Hundreds of thousands of kids throughout the country play Pop Warner football, dreaming of one day playing in college or the NFL.
In fact, Pop Warner was a famous college football coach and became the second head coach in Temple football history in 1933. If he hadn’t moved to Philadelphia to take the position, the largest youth football program in the world today may not have been named after him at all.
In 1933, Warner met Joe Tomlin, the founder of a youth football program called the Junior Football Conference, who invited him to speak at a spring clinic with teams from the JFC. After the clinic, the program was renamed the Pop Warner Conference and the rest is history.
Temple ended up being the last stop in Warner’s head coaching career. He coached the Owls until 1938.