One final Mayor's Cup matchup

Posted: August 24, 2012

MAYOR NUTTER, standing at a podium on the north side of City Hall, near the statues of Civil War generals John Reynolds and George McClelland, was speaking about the fourth (and last for now) Mayor's Cup.

"Sports fans in Philadelphia are thinking about football and college rivalries and tailgating and friendships that are made and renewed on game day," the mayor said.

Temple and Villanova will play for the Mayor's Cup next Friday at Lincoln Financial Field. It will be the FBS Owls, back in the Big East, and the FCS Wildcats, still in the Colonial Athletic Association, with a glance toward Big East football someday, to settle who's the best college football team in this city for 2012.

Coaches Andy Talley (Villanova) and Steve Addazio (Temple) were at City Hall late Thursday morning, along with mascots and spirit squads to promote a game that has gotten terrific crowds every year in South Philly. With Villanova scheduled for three different FCS opponents the next 3 years, the Mayor's Cup will be a nice memory, at least until they figure out a way to revive it or Villanova moves up a division in football, or both.

Villanova won the first Mayor's Cup, 27-24. Then, Temple won it, 31-24. Last year, Villanova, after winning the FCS championship in 2009 and losing in the 2010 championship game, started its least experienced team in years. And it showed. Temple, which went on to win its first bowl game in more than 30 years, dominated, 42-7.

Everybody, including the mayor, is expecting a much more competitive game this time.

"For the new freshmen who go to Temple and Villanova and those who grew up unaccustomed to Philadelphia sports, this is going to be their first exposure to Philadelphia football," Nutter said. "There's really nothing like sports in Philadelphia when you're the leader of the fifth-largest city in America, but also the sports capital of the United States of America, you know that you are going to have some great fun."

It's a perfect end-of-summer/get-ready-for-fall game. And they really need to find a way to play it every year.

This actually will be the fifth game in the 2000s. The first was decided in double overtime. Three have been decided on the last play.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we're good enough to get Temple into the fourth quarter and have the same opportunity for one or the other to possibly win on the last play of the game," Talley said.

Temple was the veteran team last year. And it showed. This year, Villanova has more experience. Still, Temple is in a higher division and is supposed to win.

"The rivalry has been great," Talley said. "I do feel bad that this is the last game in our series, because it has been a great experience for both teams and the city of Philadelphia."

Temple, of course, has a lot more to lose in the game than Villanova. Still, the game does draw very well. The fans clearly want to see it.

Villanova has 17 starters back, but it is still fairly young. Temple has only nine starters back, but the Owls' talent base has improved dramatically in recent years.

Addazio is nothing if not excited and excitable.

"I don't know what else goes on this time of year except football," he said. "I can't wait for it to start, like you."

And he gets why this game matters.

"I think this is terrific for Philadelphia," Addazio said. "As Mayor said, Philadelphia is the greatest sports city in the country, and, for us to be a part of being a model for that sports city, playing this game is critically important. I love rivalries. I think that's really important in college football. Rivalries are established for a lot of reasons. One of them is proximity. The ability for two Philadelphia teams to come together and, as coach Talley pointed out, one of the better crowds of the year is the Villanova-Temple crowd. And that's something that I think is really important to the football culture here in the city."

Each coach said he wants to see the game continue after 2012 or, at least, get renewed at some point. That really does need to happen. For now, there is next Friday night, the fourth Mayor's Cup.

Contact Dick Jerardi at

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