Steve Joachim was reserve QB before transferring to Temple
A member of the Temple football family has his own place in Penn State history.
Steve Joachim, the radio analyst for the Owls for 15 seasons, was in the Nittany Lions' quarterback mix in the early 1970s.
Joachim arrived as a freshman in 1970.
"I still say to this day that was the best freshman team Penn State has ever had," Joachim said the other day before the Owls departed for today's noon kickoff at Beaver Stadium. "If you think of some of the names on that team -
[John] Cappelletti, [Tom] Donchez, [Mark] Markovich, [Charlie] Getty, Randy Crowder, Eddie O'Neil, Jimmy Scott. There were about 25 guys on scholarship, and I think 20 of them played pro ball."
Joachim was one of them, but he didn't build his resume with the Lions. He transferred to Temple after two seasons.
The Lions were coming off their consecutive unbeaten seasons (1968-69), and they were rebuilding. Mike Cooper started the '70 season at quarterback and was replaced by tight end-punter Bob Parsons.
When the team stumbled to a 2-3 start, JoePa turned to John Hufnagel, who was playing in the secondary at the time.
"They went to double tight ends and stopped throwing the ball," Joachim said.
Joachim backed up Huffy in '71, and the team went 11-1, losing only at Tennessee in the regular-season finale, before crushing Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
"Franco [Harris] and Lydell [Mitchell] were the backfield so it was a pretty good team," Joachim said.
Knowing he'd have to sit behind Hufnagel in '72, Joachim returned to his native Philadelphia and had two great years, 1973-74, with Temple.
"I had a long talk with Joe [Paterno]," Joachim, a technology director for J.P. Morgan Chase, said. "I didn't see sitting and then only playing one year. It was a hard decision."
He harbors no bitterness. He does wonder what may have happened had freshmen been eligible in 1970, before Huffy was moved from defense.
"Who knows?" he said. "With the people and the players they had, that was the best thing they could do. Certainly hindsight proved them successful."
Joachim was the centerpiece of Temple's best era under Wayne Hardin.
He threw for 3,262 yards and 31 touchdowns, was a second-team All-American and won the Maxwell Award as the nation's outstanding player.
The Owls went 9-1 and 8-2 in his two seasons, losing only to Boston College, Pitt and Cincinnati (they didn't play PSU at the time).
Joachim wound up getting drafted in the seventh round by the Baltimore Colts before spending two seasons with the New York Jets and time in the Canadian Football League.
"It was pretty fulfilling," he said. "[Had I stayed at Penn State] would I have gotten drafted higher? I don't know. Or maybe I wouldn't
have gotten drafted because I would have handed the ball off to Cappelletti. We had a great offense at Temple, but who knows?"
His visits back to Happy Valley stir memories.
"Having played at Penn State and now associated with Temple, it's a lot of fun," he said. "It was exciting when I played there. Now it's unbelievable - the size is just amazing. Penn State has dominated the games, but I think it's still a good rivalry. Joe has been willing to play Temple, and it's great for Temple, and I know [Temple coach] Al [Golden] looks forward to the game."
Joachim, 57, can see Golden, a former Nittany Lion, on the PSU sidelines someday. Golden is 10-27 in his fourth season at Temple, but the Owls made strides in the Mid-American Conference last year.
"I look at Al Golden as the No. 1 guy to succeed Joe," he said. "No question in my mind. He's changed the whole attitude with everybody associated with the [Temple] program. It's like night and day now - the way the kids handle themselves, the way the coaching staff works, their involvement with the rest of the university. He's done a great job in every aspect. I just hope it starts to come out on the field.
"I think he's got everything Penn State really wants. If the timing's right, and he doesn't go somewhere else first, I think he'll be right up there [as a candidate]. He's a dynamic leader, great personality, family man. He's got all the intangibles."
A competitive game today would enhance Joachim's case for Golden.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or email@example.com.