Starting Point

And so it begins. The 2012 Temple football team gathered at the Edberg-Olson Complex on Saturday for the first day of training camp, ready to embark on its first season in the Big East Conference since 2004. The anticipation of the move back to a BCS conference, not to mention three straight winning seasons and Temple's first bowl victory since 1979, have created a buzz not seen in a while.

And so it begins.

The 2012 Temple football team gathered at the Edberg-Olson Complex on Saturday for the first day of training camp, ready to embark on its first season in the Big East Conference since 2004.

The Owls will open the season in 27 days at Lincoln Financial Field in the final Mayor's Cup game against Villanova, at least for the time being. On Oct. 6, they will mark their return to the Big East on Homecoming against South Florida.

The anticipation of the move back to a BCS conference, not to mention three straight winning seasons and Temple's first bowl victory since 1979, have created a buzz the program hasn't seen in a while.

"It's a great challenge, but that's the nature of this game, competing," said defensive coordinator Chuck Heater. "It's a tremendous opportunity and success would be viewed as a great accomplishment for the players and coaches alike.

"There's really credibility and visibility to the program, where you're playing teams people are aware of from a national standpoint and from an Eastern standpoint. It creates more enthusiasm and sense of major college football in Philadelphia. We were playing Division I, and I'm not sure the city saw it that way, but now in reality that's what you have."

With the upgrades to the football facility and leaving the Mid-American Conference for a more high-profile league, optimism is high, but the Owls are focused on not letting the excitement affect their preparation.

"We're very excited, things are going crazy, we got the new facility going in, we're just, everything's looking real good," said junior defensive end Sean Daniels. "But at the end of the day, it's just football. Big East, MAC, it's just football. You just have to go out and win."

The Owls will only play 11 games this season because they didn't join the league until March and moved from an eight-game MAC schedule to a seven-game Big East slate. They will need to win six overall against a higher level of competition to become bowl eligible for the fourth straight year.

In the pre-season Big East media poll, Temple was picked last.

"I really hope we can win a lot of games this year in this new conference, to show the nation we are good and you shouldn't look down on us," said senior kicker Brandon McManus. "Everybody thinks we're going to be dead last. It just gives us a chance to shock the college football world.

"We know what we're capable of doing, and (lack of respect) motivates us. These are the teams I've always wanted to play, so I'm happy about that."

While the MAC was strong at the top, there was a clear difference between the top tier and bottom tier of the conference. The Big East was such a balanced league last year that no team won fewer than five games overall and five teams were either 5-2 or 4-3 in the league.

"I think that every week when you play you have to be at your best, and if you're not at your best, you'll get beat because everybody we play against will be as good or better than us talent-wise," said offensive coordinator Ryan Day. "So I think the challenge for us is to find a way to get an edge. That's the biggest challenge, every week you're in a dogfight and there's no place to take a breath."

Day, though, believes the Owls are ready for the challenge.

"Absolutely, I can't wait to play some of the teams we're going to play," he said. "But it's a matter how our team responds and if we can play at a high level week in and week out. But we're in the right place."

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