CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Perhaps Andy Talley is being genuine. Or maybe the Villanova coach just doesn't want a repeat of last season.
Whatever the reason, Talley has done nothing but praise Montana this week. He's even described the Grizzlies as a "dynasty."
"They are outstanding," Talley said yesterday as the second-ranked Wildcats (13-1) get ready to face No. 1 Montana (14-0) in the Football Championship Subdivision championship game at Finley Stadium on Friday.
A year ago, when asked about Montana, Talley didn't say anything about "outstanding" or "a dynasty."
Villanova had just suffered a heartbreaking 31-27 quarterfinal loss to then-No. 1 seed James Madison, on Dec. 8, 2008. Talley predicted that JMU, a fellow Colonial Athletic Association team, would beat Montana in the semifinals.
"I think it's a slam dunk for them there," Talley said. "They'll beat Montana. We would have beat Montana. JMU is an outstanding team. Richmond is an outstanding team. We're an outstanding team. The league is so strong I'd be willing to take all our guys [vs. Montana]."
As expected, his comments became bulletin-board material in Missoula.
Montana went on to upset JMU, 35-27, a week later in Harrisonburg, Va. Grizzlies coach Bobby Hauck talked about Talley's comments in the JMU postgame news conference.
"It would've been easier to have Villanova at our place," Hauck said at the time of hosting 'Nova as opposed to facing JMU on the road. "JMU came back and won that last game [against Villanova], but we would've beaten Villanova by 50."
Montana fans sent Talley a lot of nasty e-mails. "I think I might have been the No. 1 hated guy in Montana," Talley said. "I was the second most hated in Delaware one year. I'm sure I'm not very popular in Montana. Unfortunately, I put my foot in my mouth after the JMU game."
Talley said he hadn't received any e-mails from Grizzlies fans this week. If Montana is still motivated by the comments, it hasn't stated that publicly.
"They've got a good history," Hauck told the Missoulian. "The coach has been there a while and done a nice job with his football team. We've played their conference here and there a lot. So we have a healthy dose of respect for them, I tell you that."
So have both coaches changed their tune from a year ago or are they just being politically correct?
We'll find out at Friday's postgame news conference.