We broke then and jammed through the goalposts, passing through two columns of cheerleaders who were hooting back at our hoots. We spread into our positions around the end zone to take calisthenics, but it was too late. Even before we began our jumping jacks, I heard the BC student section ridiculing us, their hands raised and waving. "Hoot, hoot, hoot!" they screamed, laughing so hard they had trouble continuing the cheer.
Boston College killed us 49-27 that night. Had they sent an emissary to our bench at halftime, our team would have voted to give up. BC was bigger, stronger, fiercer. They rarely did anything fancy, instead relying on sweep left, sweep right, dive, off-tackle. The view from the Temple bench was terrifying. Owls came off the field with injuries, real or imagined, and it was not uncommon to see linebackers literally carried downfield on the shoulders of BC's pulling guards. It was a shameful, excruciating game.
To my surprise I was sent in during the second half for one play when the first-string quarterback broke a strap on his shoulder pads. I was extremely cold, my arm long since cooled from warmups, and I barely felt the ball when it was snapped. I dropped back, almost fell, then saw the intended receiver far down the field, completely covered. Above all, I wanted to avoid an interception, so I threw the ball as hard as I could and watched it spiral 10 rows up into the stands. A BC defensive lineman laughed.
The game ended as most one-sided games end. The Eagles kept substituting, putting in weaker and weaker players. As we left the field, hundreds of BC students hung over the rails and shouted, "Hoot, hoot, hoot!" Two or three of the more rabid members of our squad screamed hoots back, but the Temple hoots had the plaintive quality of a desperate taunt from a weakling who has been chased off the playground.
We continued hooting the rest of the year, but the spirit of the thing was lost. We finished one game over .500 that season, feasting on weak teams and getting beat by better programs. Campus politics moved from football to new topics, and antiwar rallies became less frequent as the weather grew colder. I tore something in my right knee during winter drills and never played again. Hardin left Temple and retired without successfully turning the Owls into the juggernaut of Philadelphia, but at least he had pointed the direction for the football program to follow. I think of him now and then when I see Woodsy the Owl on television, dancing with his wings out and singing, "Give a hoot, don't pollute." I wonder if the coach remembers us.