Last Call

Steve Addazio

Temple football coach Steve Addazio said on Monday's final Big East Conference call the 2012 season was about what he expected. The Owls finished their return to the Big East with a 4-7 overall record and 2-5 in the league. Temple started out 2-0 in the conference with wins against South Florida and Connecticut, before dropping its last five Big East games and five of six overall.

Temple football coach Steve Addazio said on Monday's final Big East Conference call the 2012 season was about what he expected.

The Owls finished their return to the Big East with a 4-7 overall record and 2-5 in the league. Temple started out 2-0 in the conference with wins against South Florida and Connecticut, before dropping its last five Big East games and five of six overall.

"The first year in here right out of the (Mid-American Conference), with a MAC team, we played real hard and really competed," said Addazio. "We played 11 true freshmen and 16 freshmen overall, so there's a really bright future. It's a learning experience. We're not happy we didn't have a 12th game and we're not happy the season's complete.

"But a lot of good things happened, and it's probably about what I expected. We're thrilled with how the freshmen played."

The Owls made a well-documented rushed return to the league, accepting membership in March and starting play just over six months later. Every other athletic program in the University will have a year to transition to the Big East, not starting until the 2013-2014 season, but Addazio said he was happy to take the plunge.

"The way we did it is the way it is," said Addazio. "We've really grown from this. What's transition mean? You have to get in, you have to play, you have to feel it, get used to the week-in and week-out grind. The best thing to happen was for us to get in and play right away.

"It was a rebuilding year for us, the best thing is to let these kids feel this thing. Even though it's hard to swallow, it's about what I thought might happen."

Addazio said if he had known the Owls were headed to the Big East this year, it wouldn't have changed his recruiting philosophy and made him look harder at some junior college players to offset the youth.

"We're not building a program that way," said Addazio. "We were going to be reloading this football team this year regardless. We had a great recruiting class last year, but we're young.

"We went up a level with a young football team, didn't adjust our non-conference schedule, and we were two games away from being bowl-eligible. Montel (Harris) didn't play the first month and Matt (Brown) didn't play the last month.

"We never re-fortified ourselves, we didn't have a bye week (after September). At the end, we were beat down a little bit. You're going to take your licks, we took ours and gave some out as well and we'll be better for it next year."

While the Owls might not have a bowl game to look forward to or an extra three or four weeks of practice that a young team could have benefited from, Addazio believes they are better for going through this season than they would have been playing another year in the MAC.

"Football is competition, taking your shots, and we became a better football program from this than winning more games in a lesser league," said Addazio. "I'm thrilled about that man, that's what it is. Would I like to have a couple more weeks of practice? Yeah, but what they went through, we're better for it."

The true potential negative for the Owls in this season would have been going winless, living up to the last-place predictions and facing the questions of whether the success in the MAC was a smoke screen.

Two wins didn't get the Owls to a bowl game this year, but they earned some respect for at least being able to win a few games and compete in most of the others.

The next step will be to win more games and it will come in an ever-changing Big East. Boise State, San Diego State, SMU, Houston, Memphis and Central Florida are scheduled to come in, with Navy slated for a 2015 addition.

But Rutgers has announced its intention to join the Big Ten, and rumors are circulating Connecticut, Louisville and Cincinnati are now candidates for the ACC.

"I have faith in the leadership of the Big East," said Addazio. "They'll fortify the league, it will be strong. ...The name of the conference might not be relevant, but there will be a lot of good football teams.

"Who moves out, who moves in? I don't know, but it will be a competitive football league. It's too bad the direction of college football. ...It's losing its geographical tie-ins and heading towards big-number conferences, I don't know where that stops. But there's still a lot of good programs out there."

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