Temple football is here and ready to play, coach Steve Addazio told his fellow Big East coaches and members of the media who gathered at the annual BIG EAST Football Media Day on Tuesday morning in Newport, R.I.
“I don’t know where we’ll be in the pecking order at the end of the season,” said Addazio. “But I do know this: we will show up, we will play really, really hard and we will represent the game the way it’s supposed to be represented. That’s what I will promise you.”
This fall, Temple is returning to the BIG EAST Conference for football for the first time since 2004. The Owls have spent the past five years as a football-only member of the Mid-American Conference.
“It’s awfully exciting to stand here and represent Temple, our players and our city,” Addazio, one of three new head coaches in the BIG EAST this season, told the assembled media. “The future of the BIG EAST is phenomenal. We are really, really thrilled to be a part of this.”
Coming off three straight winning seasons, two bowl appearances and Temple’s first bowl victory in over 30 years, Addazio — who in his first year led the Owls to a 9-4 record last season and a victory over Wyoming in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl — said the move up to the BIG EAST from the MAC is a natural progression for the university.
Training camp begins for Temple on Aug. 4, with their season opener against Villanova University in the annual Mayor’s Cup at Lincoln Financial Field on Aug. 31. Temple’s first BIG EAST game will be against the University of South Florida on Oct. 16, also at Lincoln Financial Field.
“We’ve been preparing for this opportunity,” he said. “Every game is going to be a dogfight. As we go into this new conference, every week we will have to bring our ‘A’ game.”
In a pre-season poll of media representatives released during the event, Temple was picked to finish eighth in the eight team conference, with the University of Louisville being selected as the pre-season favorite to win the conference.
That might be a good sign for Temple fans. Last season Louisville was picked seventh in the pre-season poll, but finished the season tied for first.
Addazio said he loves that Temple was picked to finish last in the conference.
“I think it’s perfect,” he said. “That’s why you play the games. I’m more interested to see where we (finish) in January.”
Addazio was accompanied to the BIG EAST Football Media Day by four of his players: junior quarterback Chris Coyer, senior offensive lineman Martin Wallace, senior defensive end Marcus Green and senior kicker/punter Brandon McManus.
“I brought a kicker to media day, I don’t know what I’m doing,” joked Addazio in introducing McManus. “It goes against everything I stand for because I’m an offensive line guy. (But) that kicker is one tough guy. He might be the toughest player on our football team.”
And tough will be the hallmark of Temple’s football team, promised Addazio.
“We’re going to play with great effort and we’re going to play a physical brand of football,” said Addazio. “The beautiful thing about this Temple team is they take that mindset and they embrace it and that’s what I like about our football team. I want that team that we just played to walk away saying (Temple) was really tough.”
Coyer, who was the MVP of last year’s Gildan New Mexico Bowl, said the players are very excited about the upcoming season and the chance to play in the BIG EAST.
“We can’t wait for the opportunity and the challenge that awaits us,” he said.