Booster Peter Chodoff optimistic about Temple football

Peter "Doc" Chodoff says changes on Temple's campus will make for more committed fans.
Peter "Doc" Chodoff says changes on Temple's campus will make for more committed fans. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff)
Posted: December 31, 2012

Looking for some straight talk about Temple and its current place in the college sports world? Peter "Doc" Chodoff is your man.

"You know what our TV income was from the MAC?" Chodoff said, curling his index finger to the tip of his thumb, referring to the revenue from Temple's football stay in the Mid-American Conference. "Zero."

Whether that has been rounded down or is accurate to the decimal, Chodoff's point is obvious: Whatever configuration of the Big East that Temple ends up in, whatever the league's name turns out to be, his Owls are in a better place than if they'd stuck with the MAC for football and the Atlantic Ten for basketball and other sports.

"Way better," Chodoff said recently over dinner near his Cherry Hill home.

The 87-year-old Temple sports booster does have some perspective.

"I saw Doak Walker play at Temple Stadium," Chodoff said of his post-World War II undergraduate days. "Does the name Charlie Trippi mean anything to you? We were playing some pretty good teams. Believe it or not, you had to go early to get a seat there."

Chodoff grew up at Seventh and Pine. He enrolled at Temple after spending the late days of World War II on a Navy ship in the Atlantic. His love affair with the school and its football team never ceased. Temple's practice field is named Chodoff Field. He travels with the team and rarely misses a game.

Those travels included dark days going to distant places, with little chance of even keeping games close.

"My brother, who died recently, was a psychiatrist," Chodoff said. "He thought I was completely stark, raving nuts."

He never wavered in his belief, he said, that Temple could compete well in the old Big East, when Miami and Virginia Tech were still there.

"I had to be delusional," Chodoff said. "I didn't realize the unbelievable difficulties we had to overcome."

Many were in-house. He remembers, for instance, the coach who was in the film room with the lights out when the athletic director went looking for him. He knows details of how close Temple was to dropping football a decade ago, and played his small part in keeping it around, although the big decisions were made above his level, Chodoff said.

His favorite Temple football moment?

"The Garden State Bowl," Chodoff said, remembering the 1979 matchup with California. "The California coach made the comment that we would finish last in his league, and we beat the crap and everything else out of them."

The man tells it like it is, and he has credentials. He spent most of his life as an academic, teaching anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins. He's also put his money where his mouth is. Originally, Temple's practice field at 10th and Diamond was a grass field.

"Kids were stepping in holes," Chodoff said. "They finally decided they were going to AstroTurf it. We had a meeting . . . I gave the lead gift and ran the campaign that raised $550,000."

If you include that whole amount on his ledger, Chodoff said: "I'll bet you before I die, I'll give a million and a half" for Temple football.

He isn't delusional about the Owls' fan base, but believes changes on Temple's campus will make for a deeper and more committed fandom over time. He advises premedical students, and in his own informal survey, sees a difference in sports interest between students living on campus and commuters. He's been impressed with the student sections at both football and basketball games. He believes, just like the chant at the end of hoop games, where he sits in the front row across from the visiting bench.

He knows Temple won't make as much money from the Big East as it would have if the league had held together. He also is sure this was, and remains, the best deal out there.

"People might say, 'Oh, it's a disaster,' " Chodoff said. "I think we're in a very good position . . ."

He adds an important addendum.

". . . given where we were."


Contact Mike Jensen at mjensen@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @jensenoffcampus.

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