CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Osayi Osunde made no bones about it.
He thinks last night's Football Championship Subdivision national title appearance can help alter the perception of Villanova's athletic program. As he sees it, the Main Line's tiny, private Catholic university may shed its label of being just a men's basketball school.
"This is monumental," the fifth-year senior linebacker said before the Wildcats faced Montana in the NCAA final at Finley Stadium.
"Now we have a chance to bring the best recruits to Villanova," he added. "It's going to entice more fans to start coming to our games. And it's going to start, hopefully, a tradition, coming to the playoffs and coming to Chattanooga [the current site of the NCAA title game]."
The opportunity to win a national title and change the school's perception is why Osunde came back for his fifth year.
The 6-foot-1, 245-pound Nigerian immigrant earned an undergraduate degree in psychology in May. The tri-captain is pursuing a master's degree in human-resource development.
Osunde headed into the championship with 240 career tackles, 41/2 sacks, and two interceptions. Eighty of those tackles came this season and ranked second behind Terence Thomas (108) for the team lead.
Osunde, a second-team all-Colonial Athletic Association selection, led the team in tackles in 2007 and '08.
"This is the epitome of my entire career," he said of playing for a national title. "I've been in some great games my entire life, and this is the biggest one."
Texas-bound title game? If Villanova makes it back to the NCAA final, it might not be in Chattanooga.
After 13 consecutive seasons at Finley Stadium, the championship site could move to Frisco, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.
Officials from Chattanooga and Frisco will go to Indianapolis in February to bid on becoming the host city next year and beyond.
The two places were selected finalists last month from among a pool that included Little Rock; Spokane, Wash.; and Missoula, Mont.
NCAA director for football and baseball Damani Leech said that opening a bid is not a knock on Chattanooga.
"Our No. 1 goal is what is the best situation for the student-athletes," Leech told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "We discussed [the bidding] last spring and asked ourselves, 'How long has it been [since it was put up for bid]?' This gives us a chance to see what's out there."
Capping a tough schedule. Montana was the eighth team Villanova played that either is ranked or was ranked at one point of the season. Before the game, the Grizzlies were ranked No. 1 by the FCS coaches' poll and third by the Sports Network.
CAA dominance. Villanova's championship appearance marked the sixth time in seven seasons that a CAA team reached the FCS final.
Richmond won the last season's national title. James Madison claimed the championship in 2004. Delaware won it a season earlier. The Blue Hens finished as runners-up in 2007, while Massachusetts did the same in 2006.