COLUMBIA — After a career day in the Cotton Bowl, senior running back Tony Temple decided Tuesday that his record setting Cotton Bowl game would be his last as a Tiger. Tuesday, Temple announced he would forego his appeal for a fifth year of eligibility.
“It’s time to move on and focus on doing what I need to do to make a positive impression for the next level,” Temple said in a release. “I feel good about looking into the extra year. It was worth a shot, but I don’t want anyone spending any more time on it, and I feel I’m ready to take the next step.
Temple sought a fifth year of eligibility from the NCAA under a medical hardship rule that grants an extra year of playing time if a season-ending injury occurs in the first half of a season. Temple originally redshirted his freshman year in 2004 but had it pulled in the season’s eighth game at Nebraska. Six plays in, Temple injured his ankle, ending his season as it was just getting started.
Temple was open about his pursuit of a fifth year of eligibility throughout the season. But coming into 2007, the Kansas City native wasn’t going to leave anything to chance.
“Coach Pinkel and I decided before last season that we should approach the 2007 season like it was going to be my last, and I’m glad we did it that way,” Temple said.
That attitude would never be more apparent than in the Missouri’s 38-7 Cotton Bowl victory, when Temple ran for a Cotton Bowl-record 281 yards and four touchdowns. The performance was the second best rushing effort in the history of all bowl games.
The medical hardship rule allows players to put in an appeal after their initial eligibility has been used up, which, in Temple’s case, was after the bowl game. Temple had yet to hear from the NCAA as of Tuesday according to media relations spokesman Chad Moller. According to Moller, there was skepticism on whether or not the extra year would be granted, prompting Temple to withdraw the request.
“I think this is the right decision for Tony, if he is going to get ready for the NFL then it’s time,” Pinkel said. “This way, he can focus on his degree and doing whatever it takes to get ready for a professional career, and we’ll certainly do everything we can to assist,” he said.
Temple’s 2,552 rushing yards are the fifth most in school history. He rushed for 1,039 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2007 and 1,063 in 2006 making him the only Missouri running back in history to have multiple 1,000 yard seasons.
Temple made no announcements about hiring an agent or setting up workouts. Tuesday allowed Temple to wrap up his playing career at MU with gratitude to the coaches and school for helping him along the way.
I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done to help me grow on the field and off the field,” Temple said. “I’m looking forward to finishing up my degree soon and to working hard for whatever opportunities come next for me football-wise.”