ESPN sportscaster returns to Temple campus for pregame telecast before Owls' football game against Notre Dame

When ESPN sports anchor Kevin Negandhi covered sports for the Temple News in the mid-1990s, "we won a total of seven games in the four years I was there.

"And here we are 7-0 in one season," he said Friday. "It's pretty amazing."

Negandhi, 40, will be on campus at 7 a.m. Saturday to anchor ESPN's segment taking the temperature of Temple students' temperament before College GameDay starts at 9 a.m. The weekly college football GameDay show will be broadcast live here Saturday from near Independence Mall.

"Everybody knows about Notre Dame and Notre Dame is very good," Negandhi said of the Temple Owls opponent Saturday night in the big nationally televised football game at sold-out Lincoln Financial Field.

"Not to be cliched," but, he said, "I liken it to the Rocky story. We love the Rocky story. We love the underdog."

Temple's undefeated football team is Rocky, obviously, and Notre Dame is the Apollo Creed character - the fictional heavyweight champion of the world who thought - wrongly - that he'd roll over Rocky, for an easy win.

In the movie, Apollo Creed did win the fight after a controversial referee's call. But Philadelphia's Italian Stallion and Creed were evenly matched throughout their bout, trading punch for punch.

So who's going to win at the Linc in the prime-time Saturday night college football showdown?

"Who I want to win, without question, is Temple," Negandhi said.

And who will win?

If Temple is seven points from winning in the fourth quarter, "Temple may surprise many people," Negandhi said.

These days, there's a lot of talk about whether Temple should build an on-campus football stadium.

It's not a question for Negandhi, who, like most Temple alumni, marvels at the growth of the campus and how much better and more lively it looks than when he was a student.

"Can you imagine if we have had this game on campus," he said. "Can you imagine having football in North Philadelphia six Saturdays in a season? I think it's a great opportunity."

Part of Negandhi's job Saturday will be to introduce a story he reported on Temple defensive back Sean Chandler.

Chandler, from Camden, was born in 1996, a baby when Negandhi was learning the sports reporting ropes from the pros at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News - reporters he encountered while covering the city's teams as a Temple News reporter.

"I'd start picking their brains," Negandhi said. "They told me, 'Learn how to write.'"

Born in West Philadelphia, Negandhi graduated from high school in Phoenixville. He initially attended Syracuse University, attracted by its journalism reputation.

But, one semester (and one brutal winter) into it, he decided he'd be better off at Temple.

"Transferring to Temple was the greatest decision of my career," he said.

Negandhi credits his time at Temple with teaching him how to write a story on deadline and how to turn a two-hour game into five paragraphs, condensing those five paragraphs into a 30-second summary.

"You learn the nuts and bolts - why is this a story, what's next and what's the overall outcome," he said.

All that will be determined for Temple at the end of Saturday's game.

For Negandhi, Temple's time of possible triumph will also be a chance for his family, including two sons, ages 1 and 3, to visit with Negandhi's mother and brother, who still live in Phoenixville.

Negandhi lives in Connecticut. But he has remained a fan - and critic - of Philly's sports teams.

"When you are born a Philadelphia fan, you understand heartbreak at an early age," he said. "It's a life lesson."