"I never would’ve believed this would occur"
Philadelphia showed it can be a college sports town.
The "City of Brotherly Love" may usually be thought of as a "professional team" sports town, with the Eagles, Flyers and Phillies taking much of the spotlight. But on this day, it was Temple's turn to steal the show.
ESPN'S College GameDay set up shop at Independence Mall ahead of the previously-undefeated Owls' matchup with No. 9 Notre Dame, with the historic building where the U.S. Constitution was written sitting in the backdrop about a football field away.
"It's not like GameDay comes every weekend," Temple senior Kyle Scannell said. "Temple football has taken Philadelphia by storm and that's the way it should be. The team's really become the heart of this city."
GameDay previously made an appearance in Philadelphia at Franklin Field ahead of Harvard vs. Penn in November 2002, but that was nothing compared to this.
The backdrop of Independence Hall was not only historic and unique, but also beautiful, as the sun rose right above it on this crisp Fall morning. Fans packed the quad from the early morning hours, most heading straight from the bars. And just like a scene at any major city should be, the quad not only had Temple and Notre Dame fans in it, but also fans of plenty of other major teams like Clemson, Florida State and Michigan. Some in attendance even voiced that they "could care less about the game."
But that didn't matter. Even though they didn't care about the result of the game, this was an event that couldn't be missed. As much as Gameday was a college football event, it was also a Philadelphia event.
"There's obviously so much history and tradition, but this was very different for us and a lot of fun," GameDay host David Pollack told Campus Rush. "We enjoy these, we enjoy doing things that are different and unique."
To put it simply, GameDay hoped Philadelphia would deliver, and the city did.
"The crowd's lively, and has probably been one of the bigger crowds we had," Pollack said. "And you see a lot more of a hodge-podge of different jerseys here for different teams too."
In addition to the students, who greeted Notre Dame fans with boos, Temple alumni were also there several hours before the start of the show, and they couldn't believe what they were seeing.
"I never would've believed this would occur," Bill Mendek, a 1984 Temple graduate and former Owls baseball player said. "To see this after so many dismal seasons where they were on the verge of dropping the program, to see this transformation, I think it's a really cool thing."
Mendek was there with his son, Justin, who was a 2006 graduate of Temple and also a former Owls' baseball player, who was in school when Temple went 0-11 just 10 years ago. But he said there's something special with this turnaround.
"As they keep winning each week, there's a lot more hype," Justin Mendek said. "Everything's been leading up to this [game], so we'll see how it goes, but it's pretty cool, they've had some down years so it's neat to see them at the national level now."
Photo courtesy of Nick Forrester
Even though the Irish ended up winning the game 24-20, nothing was going to change the fact that this was the Owls day.
"This is incredible, you can't really fathom what it's like until it happens, and now that it's actually happening, it's absolutely incredible," Temple senior Brendan Freyvogel said. "Temple football is the only thing keeping this city going right now, sports wise."