As Temple prepares for its quick transition into the Big East — a little less than six months from now — coach Steve Addazio isn't worried.
Sure, he knows his team will have some trouble adapting to a new league, new opponents and facing bigger players every week, but Addazio said it's a much easier transition for him and his coaching staff than coming to Temple from Florida two years ago.
"When I came in here, I just did not have a good feel for the MAC," Addazio told Yahoo! Sports. "I saw a couple games, so I had a little sense, but not a great deal. But what I found was the football in the MAC was outstanding.
"Most of my years were involved with the Big East when I was at Syracuse, and then of course the Big Ten and then the SEC, so I was a little bit more familiar with the BCS level of play. We'll go back into that and probably feel pretty comfortable in terms of that I have a sense of that level of play, what we might need or might not need schematically to get us a little edge if we feel like we could get an edge somewhere. Those are the things we're talking about right now."
But Addazio is in no hurry to start breaking down his new conference. The Owls are in the midst of spring football and Addazio said his only goal right now is to work on fundamentals and get his players in the right mindset to step up a level in competition. But the Mid-American Conference, and Temple's tough nonconference schedules have been a pretty good proving ground for the Owls. While the Owls haven't won their division as a fulltime member of the MAC, they've challenged for it each of the past three years. The MAC has had at least one 10-win team each of the past four seasons and two the past two seasons. The competition, coaches and level of play in the MAC is seemingly getting better every year.
"The MAC was better than what I honestly expected," Addazio said. "Those top teams, be it Ohio, be it Toledo, be it Northern (Illinois), be it Western (Michigan), us, those are good football teams. It's good football. In nonconference you're playing Penn State, Maryland and it's all good football. You're not doing something right now that's foreign to you."
After spring football, Addazio and his staff plan to start gameplanning for the Big East. He'll assign each coach a specific section of fan opponent and a certain team and that coach will be the expert and teach it to the rest of the coaches. Addazio said they won't get too far into the season because by the time you get to Week 7 or 8 teams have changed and the best film to watch is of the current year, but for those first few opponents, Addazio expects to have a pretty throughout dossier.
Addazio said he didn't anticipate film study being any more difficult than his first season in the MAC, but that he's going to pay extra attention to teams with unique offensive or defensive characteristics.
"You have to make sure that there's not some team that has some unique scheme that you need to pay particular attention to," Addazio said. "Like if a team has a unique scheme, a certain style of defense that you don't see, you want to address that. You don't want to wait until next year, game week, to address it. You might spend a day or two on that kind of scheme in preseason camp."
Addazio and his staff also have to start working on a grueling nonconference schedule that was built with a MAC conference schedule in mind. The Owls currently have games against FCS power Villanova, Maryland and Penn State before they even start thinking about teams such as Syracuse, Rutgers, UConn and Pitt.
Addazio said he knows there are going to be some growing pains this season and even next season when he has to prepare for yet another group of teams when Houston, Central Florida, Boise State, SMU, Memphis, San Diego State join the league (and Navy in 2015), but he's ready for them and he thinks the program is ready for them. Even though Addazio wasn't around when Temple was unceremoniously asked to leave the Big East in 2004, he knows the commitment to the program wasn't there like it is now. There's more support by the community, the alumni and better players to make this stint with the Big East stick.
"I felt like when I came here there'd be a great opportunity because I knew this program was growing, I knew the administration was committed to it, I knew (former coach) Al (Golden) had done a great job building it," Addazio said.
"I think Temple is certainly very cognizant of the fact that when we were in the Big East, we weren't exactly aligned as a university. We didn't have all sports in. The commitment level to our facilities wasn't there. We certainly feel like we had ownership in that and this is a completely different place right now. It's a completely different scenario. The university has completely changed. Philadelphia has certainly gone through a renaissance…. It's kind of interesting to watch the growth of Temple.
"So, it doesn't shock me. We felt all along that where we are is where we belong."