Villanova coach Andy Talley has become an extraordinarily popular guy along the Main Line lately. Taking your football team to a national championship game will do that for a football coach.
Villanova (13-1) will face Montana (14-0) for the Football Championship Subdivision crown at 8 p.m. Friday at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Montana, which will make its second consecutive NCAA final appearance, advanced by defeating visiting Appalachian State, 24-17, yesterday in snowy Missoula. The Wildcats recorded a 14-13 victory over William and Mary at Villanova Stadium on Friday to advance.
Less than five minutes after the Wildcats' win, Talley was being swarmed outside his team's locker room.
Villanova's president, the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, and former Wildcats greeted him with hugs and handshakes.
As of last night, the well-wishers had not stopped.
"I would say that I received maybe 100 e-mails and 100 text messages," Talley said yesterday. "There has been a lot of excitement."
But don't confuse the Wildcats' excitement for satisfaction with reaching the championship.
Villanova expected this. The goal is to win the NCAA title.
"I don't think our guys were celebrating [yesterday]," Talley said. "This was so much of a business venture."
A venture that's one victory away from being completed.
Looking to rest his players, Talley gave them the day off yesterday.
The Wildcats, who already have game film of Montana, resume practice and team meetings today.
The team will fly to Chattanooga Tuesday night. Once there, the Wildcats will participate in two more days of practice and media engagements before Friday's final against the Grizzlies.
"We are finally here," wideout Matt Szczur said. "We are going to see what happens next week. We are ready."