Cosby watches Temple football get serious

Dec 16, 2009 - 9:25 PM By DAN GELSTON AP Sports Writer

PHILADELPHIA(AP) -- No joke, Bill Cosby's Temple Owls are no longer college football's laughingstock.

Cosby's favorite team is worth watching.

Temple's most famous funny man, who played on the football team in the 1960s, already has a game plan to help the Owls beat UCLA in the EagleBank Bowl in Washington, D.C. - on what's likely to be a chilly Dec. 29.

Make the sun-spoiled Bruins freeze like a box of pudding pops.

"We will take them on open boat rides across the Delaware in horizontal snow without top coats and hats," Cosby said this week. "They will have a George Washington-crossing-the-Delaware experience.

"This is the hospitality we will have for the UCLA Bruins."

Cosby, a Philadelphia native, has long supported the Owls even as they struggled through 30 years without a bowl game and 19 seasons since their last winning record. If the Owls' success was measured like a TV show, they would have been canceled years ago. This season's 9-3 record under coach Al Golden has finally given Cosby a reason to smile for his Owls.

"Our players catch balls now, the defense holds people now, and we are ready to go even higher and that makes me feel very, very good," the 72-year-old Cosby said.

Cosby thought this season might just be another bad rerun after he attended Temple's season-opening 27-24 loss to Villanova. The Owls dropped the next week's game to Penn State, then reeled off a nine-game winning streak to prove they were a team on the rise. And that Villanova loss wasn't so bad: The Wildcats are 13-1 and playing Montana on Friday in the championship game of the Football Championship Subdivision.

Golden has become a hot coaching prospect. When Charlie Weis was fired at Notre Dame and replaced by Cincinnati's Brian Kelly, Cosby feared Golden would bolt the Owls before he could finish his rebuilding project.

"I became very, very nervous when Charlie was let go at Notre Dame because I still feel that, the Cincinnati coach is a great coach, but somehow those guys were looking over at Temple and saying, 'If this guy can do this for Temple, I know he can do those things and build, build, build,"' Cosby said. "Now it's like, be careful what you wish for. Headhunters will be coming now."

Cosby makes the occasional visit to Temple to root on the Owls. He wore a throwback jersey and a leather helmet in 2007 when the Owls unveiled their new uniforms. He's also had witty and inspirational taped messages played before games.

Cosby was a halfback who earned his only varsity letter for the Owls in 1961 when they went 2-5-2 under coach George Markis.

His most memorable moment? A game against Muhlenberg when he was nearly knocked out making a tackle on a kickoff.

"I remember being afraid to move my legs because I didn't want to be paralyzed. I felt if I didn't move, it would prove I wasn't really paralyzed yet. So I just laid out there," he said.

"Finally, the coach comes out and bent over me. I said to myself, 'If one of these idiots asks me my name, I'm going to say Rumpelstiltskin.' Sure enough, someone bending over looking at me says, 'What's your name?' I said, 'Rumpelstiltskin.' He said, 'There's nothing wrong with him."'

No wonder Cosby soon called it quits for a shot at comedy.

Cosby had to choose between a career in entertainment or football in 1962. He played only one game before deciding to perform at a Philadelphia show that included Peter, Paul and Mary, according to information provided by Temple.

A standup comedy, TV and movie career proved Cosby made the right call.

"Some of the plays I've been running back and forth in my mind are not too pretty," Cosby said. "I wasn't good. I think the most disappointing thing is, I wasn't that fast.

One-time Hillman track star Heathcliff Huxtable might not agree with that scouting report.

Cosby will not attend the bowl game, but he'll watch on TV.

"We have always celebrated these days from the 15th of December to the 4th of January in our home," Cosby said. "My wife found some duct tape and she has duct taped me to the sofa for 45 years."

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