It’s Montana and Villanova
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. ó Villanova coach Andy Talley sometimes wears his national championship ring while on recruiting trips.
His basketball ring, that is.
The ring was a gift from the school’s basketball team when he was hired in 1985 to rebuild the football program. Twenty-five seasons later, Talley and the Wildcats finally have their first shot at winning the school’s first FCS title when they face Montana tonight in Chattanooga.
The second-ranked Wildcats (13-1) couldn’t have picked a more dominant opponent.
“I think they’ve won something like 3,000 conference championships in a row,” Talley joked about Montana. “They are the only show in town in Montana, and people rally around it much like people do in Pennsylvania with Penn State.”
The Grizzlies (14-0) have won 12 Big Sky Conference titles in a row, but they’re undefeated for the second time in three seasons after losing last year’s title game to Richmond.
They’re making their fifth appearance in the national championship game this decade and seventh overall. Despite the regular appearances, Montana has only won the title twice and hasn’t won since 2001, two seasons before coach Bobby Hauck took over.
“You can’t try to win it any harder than we have in the past,” Hauck said. “We’re 14-0, we’re undefeated, we’re No. 1 in the nation, and we’d like to cap that with our 15th win, but we can’t work any harder. We can’t turn over any more rocks than we have in the past.”
Montana had a dramatic semifinals win over Appalachian State at home in the snow. Andrew Selle threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jabin Sambrano with 1:31 left in the game to give the Grizzlies their 24-17 win.
– NASHVILLE, Tenn. ó Jeff Fisher, coach of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, will be taking a break tonight from preparations for a crucial game with Miami to watch his son try to one-up his father.
Oldest son Brandon will be playing linebacker for Montana in the FCS national championship game. The contest is only a two-hour drive from Nashville, and Fisher says that works out perfectly.
And yes, he gets more worked up for his son’s games than his own.
“I can’t control it, can’t control anything. I’m a dad,” Fisher said.
NEW YORK ó Wayne State tailback Joique Bell, the Harlon Hill Trophy winner as Division II’s top player, and West Liberty quarterback Zach Amedro headlined The Associated Press Little All-America team. It’s made up of players from Division II and III, along with NAIA.
Justin Hinson of North Carolina Pembroke made the team as a punter. Carson-Newman’s Buck Wakefield was a third-team running back.
CLEMSON, S.C. ó C.J. Spiller has earned another big honor, one that required him to walk instead of run.
He received his bachelor’s degree in sociology Thursday. He received a loug ovation from the crowd of about 10,000 at Littlejohn Coliseum and a standing ovation from the university’s board of trustees.
* With Clemson starter Kyle Parker just a freshman and talented newcomer Tajh Boyd ready to compete this spring, quarterback Willy Korn announced earlier this month he’d transfer.
“Quarterback for sale,” Korn joked to reporters after Clemson started practice for the Music City Bowl.
ATLANTA ó Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin says he is “very confident” the NCAA’s inquiry into the university’s student ambassador program will reveal no rules violations by his staff.
* KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ó Tennessee has dismissed junior defensive back Brent Vinson from the team as the Volunteers prepare for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. A team spokesman said Kiffin would address it further today.
The move came on Vinson’s birthday. Police questioned him in May about a shooting at a Knoxville apartment complex but called him a witness. Former Tennessee basketball player Ramar Smith later was arrested in the shooting.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. ó West Virginia assistant coach John “Doc” Holliday has signed a five-year contract to coach at Marshall, Thundering Herd athletic director Mike Hamrick said.
Holliday spent five seasons as an assistant at N.C. State.