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'Nova, Montana differ in recruiting strategies

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Stellar recruiting is a blueprint to building a national championship team. When it comes to football, Villanova and Montana have distinct recruiting philosophies.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Stellar recruiting is a blueprint to building a national championship team.

When it comes to football, Villanova and Montana have distinct recruiting philosophies.

The Grizzlies prefer in-state players, and rarely do they recruit outside of the Northwest and California. The Wildcats, however, will go anywhere to get a recruit.

Few can argue with both teams' tactics.

That's because second-seeded Villanova (13-1) will face top-seeded Montana (14-0) in tomorrow's Football Championship Subdivision championship game at Finley Stadium.

For the Wildcats, recruiting nationally is a necessity. Villanova is a private Catholic university with an enrollment of 6,240.

"There's a lot of great football players in Pennsylvania, but not all of them can get in Villanova," said Wildcats coach Andy Talley, who has 29 in-state players on his 87-man roster. "So we really feel like, in order for us to get kids into our place academically, we have to spread ourselves out."

As a result, Villanova coaches walk the hallways of high schools in California, Florida, Maryland, and Ohio during recruiting periods.

"California has been a pipeline for us for about 15 years," Talley said. "We've really felt like because of the national reputation that Villanova has, we can go into these other places and select a Brandyn Harvey at wide receiver and an Aaron Ball at running back."

Villanova's football recruiting budget is about $100,000, Talley said. The school's overall recruiting expenses are $234,838, according to Equity in Athletics data from the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education.

Harvey (Spring Valley, Calif.) and Aaron Ball (Los Angeles) are among 11 Californians on Villanova's roster.

Like the Wildcats, Montana has recruits from California (17). The Grizzlies also have some from the state of Washington (11), among others.

But they prefer home-grown talent. The Grizzlies boast 47 in-state players on their 92-man roster. It's a recruiting philosophy Montana took from the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The school's entire recruiting budget for all men's sports is $86,673, according to the Equity in Athletics data.

"When they were great through the 1990s and before that, their philosophy was they were going to recruit every Nebraska kid they thought could help win a championship," Grizzlies coach Bobby Hauck said. "And they would go elsewhere to supplement it.

"That's exactly our philosophy in Montana. We are going to recruit every Montana kid that we think can help us win a championship. Then we will go elsewhere to get the rest."

It's easy luring Montanans to a state school (14,207 students) more than twice Villanova's size.

"We don't have a professional sports team," said Montana center Alex Verlanic, who's from Drummond, Mont. "The Griz are it. You grow up watching them on TV.. . . So I think [becoming a Grizzlie] is the dream for every kid growing up."

Other than academics, Villanova benefits from the basketball team's national exposure. And the Wildcats aren't afraid to admit it.

"Just think about," Talley said. "Villanova is playing Georgetown or Pitt at the Wachovia Center. There's 22,000 people, and we have 10 recruits sitting there. That is very, very helpful in our recruiting. We use it."

Here's Where They're From

Tomorrow night's FCS championship could be viewed as East vs. West. Here is a state-by-state breakdown of players from each school.The battleground appears to be California, where Montana beats Villanova, 17-11.


Montana          47

California          17

Washington         11

Arizona             4

Idaho             4

Wyoming          2

Oregon             2

Colorado          2

Georgia             1

Tennessee          1

British Columbia    1


Pennsylvania       29

New Jersey       20

California          11

Maryland          8

Florida             5

Ohio                5

New York          3

Massachusetts    1

Connecticut       1

North Carolina       1

Georgia             1

Illinois             1

West Virginia       1

Source: Montana, Villanova school Web sites.EndText