Temple is still at a loss

Costa, for one, says he's glad he made the transfer to Maryland

October 07, 2005|By HEATHER A. DINICH | HEATHER A. DINICH,SUN REPORTER

College Park -- Rick Costa leaned back against the wall outside the visitors' locker room at Byrd Stadium on Wednesday and exhaled an audible sigh of relief. Instead of lining up tomorrow with Temple, one of the most abysmal programs in the country, the linebacker will be across the field from his old teammates, wearing a Maryland jersey.

"I'm so happy my family and I decided to make this transition," said Costa, who transferred from the Philadelphia school this summer. "You really have to struggle to stay on the right path at Temple, being in the city, and their reputation in general. ... There's a lot of things going wrong."

Costa left behind a team that has been outscored, 259-56, in five losses, and lost seven players to academic ineligibility days before the season began. He turned his jersey in to a head coach whose future remains in doubt, as this is the last year of Bobby Wallace's contract. And he opted not to stay to see how the team would fare in the Mid-American Conference, the only league willing to adopt the program that has had only one winning season in the past 20 years.

In what could be Wallace's eighth and final season with the team, the 51-year-old coach has been faced with the challenge of helping Temple transition into the MAC - a move that came only after the university's board of trustees decided the program was even worth keeping.

Wallace, who had eight winning seasons in 10 years at Division II North Alabama, said he is more concerned about losing another game than he is about losing his job.

"That's not even a factor," he said Monday. "The kids are what this team is about. I'm here to support them and get them to do the best they can. Whatever happens after the season happens. I don't even think about my job as being a factor. Bottom line is we just want to win a game."

With the arduous schedule that began with No. 18 Arizona State and includes Wisconsin, Miami, Clemson and Virginia, it's not going to be easy.

After the Big East voted Temple out of the conference prior to the 2001 season, all ties were officially severed after last year's 2-9 finish. In May, Temple was accepted into the MAC, forcing its independent schedule to be altered. Now, the Owls face opponents that posted a combined 83-48 record last season. Eight of those teams ended last year with bowl games, and five were nationally ranked.

The Owls are an independent team this season with four MAC teams on their schedule. Next year, they'll increase to six MAC opponents before becoming a full-fledged member in 2007.

Temple, still down from last week's 70-7 loss at Bowling Green, will face Maryland at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Lincoln Financial Field.

"To lose, 70-7, yeah it's a big embarrassment to me, but we're going to still play hard every week," said running back Umar Ferguson, a native of Silver Spring. "You have to play for pride."

Ferguson said he grew up wanting to play for the Terps, but changed his mind after former coach Ron Vanderlinden was fired.

"Everything happens for a reason," Ferguson said. "Maryland is just another team to me. Temple, that's who I'm playing for - this is my team. I don't have any regrets. We're going to try to beat them."

Wallace is 19-65 in his eight seasons with Temple, but it is hardly as if he's the only head coach who has been incapable of reversing the program's losing trend. In its 111-year history, Temple has won 44 percent of its football games.

Tomorrow, the Owls will face a Maryland team coming off its best offensive performance of the season and a 45-33 upset of Virginia.

"We've just got to be prepared," Wallace said. "It's hard for me to tell you what I'm going to say to them."

Senior defensive end Mike Mendenhall said the players are trying desperately to remain positive.

"We want to win," he said. "Some people may think, `Whatever, you're not going to win, you're out of the picture.' But that's our attitude. We're here to improve and go out and win."

So is Costa. He just said he had to leave to do it.

Note -- Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen said yesterday that Lance Ball will be the likely starter at running back tomorrow. heather.dinich@baltsun.com

Maryland @Temple

Tomorrow, 1 p.m., 1300 AM, 105.7 FM Line: Maryland by 28

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.