Villanova head coach Andy Talley has been walking the sidelines for 29 seasons as a collegiate head coach including the last 23 as the Wildcats’ head man. While other long-tenured coaches are often accused of losing their effectiveness over time, it seems that Talley is only getting better and his impact both on and off field is ever-growing.
In 2008, Talley led Villanova to a 10-3 record and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the FCS playoffs before being barely edged by then No.1 ranked James Madison University 31-27.
Villanova finished the regular season ranked No. 6 in the country. The 10-win season marks the fourth time during Talley’s regime that he has guided the Wildcats to a 10 or more win campaign. His current Villanova record of 165-101-1 and his overall career record of 193-119-2 stand tantamount to his long history of success. As such, Talley was a predictable selection as the 11th annual Tri-State Coach of the year.
Coach Talley has clearly led many remarkable teams during his coaching tenure, but the 1997 squad will go down as one for the ages. For starters, Talley led his Wildcats to the first-ever undefeated, untied full season in Villanova gridiron history. While leading his troops to the undefeated campaign, Talley also guided the Wildcats to a No. 1 national ranking for the final six weeks of the regular season.
This was the first time in school history that a Villanova football team was ranked No. 1 in the polls. On their way to being named the 1997 ECAC Team of the Year, Talley and the Wildcats set 41 school records. After claiming the inaugural Atlantic 10 championship in 1997 with a perfect 8-0 conference mark, Talley and his team were rewarded for their fine season with a bid to the NCAA I-AA playoffs. In the playoffs, Villanova accomplished another first, as the ‘Cats claimed the school’s first-ever I-AA playoff win with a 49-28 victory over Colgate. In the quarterfinals, Villanova’s dream season came to a close with a hard-fought 37-34 defeat to eventual National Champion Youngstown State.
The mark of a great coach is often said to extend beyond teams to the players and people that the program turns out. In addition to the great teams he has built, Talley has coached 10 first team All-Americans. The first was offensive guard Paul Berardelli who earned American Football Coaches Association (AFCA)/Kodak All-America honors in 1988.
More recently, wide receiver Brian Finneran and Brian Westbrook received numerous All-American honors and have achieved successful NFL careers. Just last season, senior linebacker Brian Hulea was named an All-American by the Sports Network, AFCA and Walter Camp Foundation.
Perhaps of greater importance to Talley than wins, losses and athletic accolades are the academic achievements and character of players in his program. In his Villanova career, Villanova has had 11 GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans.
Talley’s contributions to society beyond coaching are extensive. In 2008, Talley was honored with a pair of community service awards for his work on behalf of the National Marrow Donor Program.
On November 7 in Minneapolis, Minn., the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) presented Talley with its 2008 Collegiate Award at its national convention. The award is given to an individual or university in honor of outstanding commitment to raising awareness, recruiting donors and supporting the life-saving work of the NMDP. Talley also was given the Volunteer of the Year Award by the Laurie Strauss Foundation at Carnegie Hall in New York City on November 11.
Talley’s involvement in this national campaign began in 1992 when he raised over $10,000 to determine the blood type of 200 individuals, with Villanova football student-athletes and his coaching staff serving as the foundation. As a result of his success, in 1993 he secured a $60,000 grant and organized the “Football United for Life” campaign, which attracted over 950 potential bone marrow donors. Since 1992, Talley’s efforts have resulted in over 3,300 potential donors being successfully tested and entered into the registry.
This past spring, Villanova partnered with eight other college football programs and tested 2,600 people who are now registered on the national bone marrow registry. This spring the Wildcat football team will partner with 30 college football teams with the goal of testing 5,000 people. This initiative is called “Get in the Game and Save a Life.” The NMDP has joined with Villanova and over the next four years, as more college football programs get involved, the ultimate goal is to test 50,000 people a year.
“Athletes have truly been given great gifts, and this is one small way to give back to someone in great need,” Talley said. “Because coaches and athletes are in the public eye, we want to raise awareness that bone marrow donors are needed. This is a great opportunity to give someone a second chance in life.”