Rutgers-Temple may be a budding rivalry, on and off the field

Rutgers' David Osei.
Rutgers' David Osei.
Posted: October 19, 2012

It was hard to miss the Rutgers football billboards in several South Jersey locations this summer.

Nor can you avoid hearing live broadcasts of Scarlet Knights games on Philadelphia's WIP-AM (610) radio. And their weekly television show can be seen locally on Fridays on the Comcast Network.

Even though it is about 65 miles away, Rutgers is overlapping into the Philadelphia market that Temple longs to own.

"To Rutgers' credit, they built that program, and they are winning, and they deserve respect," said Owls coach Steve Addazio, whose team will host the 19th-ranked Scarlet Knights Saturday in a Big East game at Lincoln Financial Field.

Addazio realizes that despite successful seasons recently, Temple (3-2, 2-0 Big East) battles a stigma as a second-class program because of its past struggles. It will take several winning campaigns to change that image.

"Does that mean there's not a tremendous burn inside and fuel? Yeah," Addazio said of Rutgers' making inroads into Philadelphia. "Your competitive. Does it sometimes hurt you? Yep. But, it's a tremendous motivating force. It's our job to build [on] it."

"Temple Made" billboards appear in North Jersey, but Owls athletic director Bill Bradshaw said they are intended to attract students.

But Temple's football program could catch more attention in the region with a victory over Rutgers (6-0, 3-0).

An upset of the Scarlet Knights could go a long way for another reason. It could jump-start a "border war" rivalry, with the Owls back in the conference and both programs drawing from the same fertile ground of prep football in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for recruits.

This season, the matchup could serve as a family feud.

Bryan Osei, a freshman defensive lineman for Temple, is the younger brother of Rutgers junior center David Osei. The siblings, who are reserves, played at Abington High.

"What I've said all along is that college football is at its best when it's regional," said Rutgers' first-year coach, Kyle Flood, whose team is bowl-eligible for the seventh time in eight seasons. "For us, Temple is exciting to have in the conference, because it's a regional game."

In most cases, Rutgers won the recruiting battles over Temple for top talent in recent years, especially in New Jersey. But there are signs that Temple is becoming competitive in that area.

In recruiting for 2013, the Owls beat out Rutgers for commitments from Williamstown linebacker Buddy Brown and Elizabeth quarterback P.J. Walker. Seven of Temple's 13 commitments for the Class of 2013 are from New Jersey.

However, Rutgers still receives plenty of exposure in the Philadelphia market.

"There will be more Temple billboards," Addazio said. "And our attendance will continue to grow. Our university will continue to grow, and our football program will continue to grow.

"Where we stand today is far different from where we stood five, six years ago. And where we stand five years from today will be far different from where we are right now."

A Charlotte series. Temple will play a home-and-home football series with Charlotte beginning in 2015.

After two seasons in the Football Championship Subdivision, Charlotte will join Conference USA in 2015.

Losing interest? Defensive end Nik D'Avanzo, a senior defensive end at Archbishop Curley High in Baltimore, is said to be reconsidering his oral commitment to Temple.

"I love all the Temple coaches and the school, but the location . . . I'm not sure if I fit there," D'Avanzo told TerrapinTimes.com. "I'm a country boy, and Temple is in the middle of the city. I went there three times thinking I'd adjust and learn to like it, but I'm just not feeling the area right now."

The 6-foot-3, 283-pounder told TerrapinTimes.com that he is interested in Cincinnati. The Bearcats have not offered him a scholarship.


Contact Keith Pompey at kpompey@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock.

 

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