Sometimes I can’t remember what I had for lunch. However, I remember the evening of April 1, 1985 like it was yesterday. Villanova 66, Georgetown 64. The perfect game. The birth of March Madness. After circling the sun 54 times, that still stands out as one of the best nights of my life. I spent April 2, 1985 reading every word printed about that historic game.
It would be an exaggeration to say that last night held the same significance for me … for God’s sake, I write for VUHoops.com. However, it was a very, very good one for Villanova fans everywhere. So it was a bit of a déjà vu moment this morning as I surveyed many of the 590 hits that were flagged by Google on my search "Villanova Football National Champions."
For those less inclined to pour through the hundreds of articles written about last night’s win, here are a few of the highlights:
“No. 2 Villanova climbed the mountain Friday night, winning its first Football Championship Subdivision national title with a thrilling 23-21 victory over Montana. It came 25 seasons after Coach Andy Talley was hired to rebuild the program after the university’s four-year absence from the sport.”
“Jimmy Davie of Upper Darby wasn’t one of the lucky ones with a bus pass to the big game, but from his bar stool in front of Tip O’Neill’s big-screen TV, he said, “I’ve always been a huge fan of Villanova basketball. “Over the last couple of years, though, Andy Talley has done some great things with the football program. I’m proud to say I’m now a big fan of ‘Nova football, too.” And that’s a sentiment that was shared by fans up and down Lancaster Avenue.”
"Villanova is known as a basketball school. Not anymore. Winning tonight is going to go a long way toward making Villanova more of a football school,” Pizzo said. “Villanova basketball won the NCAA Championship 25 years ago, the same year Andy Talley took over the football program. Winning a championship this year is very, very fitting.”
Andy Talley's friends warned him about undergoing heart tests a few days before traveling to the national championship game. They didn't want the Villanova coach to suffer complications before the big game. After waiting 25 seasons for his first shot at a title, Talley didn't heed their warnings. "If I died here winning the national championship, that would be a pretty good death," he said. "Does that tell you how much it means to me?" Talley can rest easy now.
A beaming Andy Tally said, “I think we've built something over 25 years that Villanova can put its arms around. The basketball program is great. But they can say we play pretty good football, too. It puts the pressure on Jay [Wright] now. I don't know if I really understand what it means yet. I just think we've been through a lot of wars to get where we are. And that stood out tonight."
Villanova wouldn't be denied. In a play that typified their season, On fourth-and-1 at the Montana 3, the Wildcats went for it and Matt Szczur plowed ahead into the end zone for the 23-14 lead with 11:04 left in the fourth quarter. Szczur, easily the Most Outstanding Player, was in tears as he held his plaque and hugged his family members and friends. "I couldn't have written this any better," he finally said. "We never folded under pressure. That's huge for us. We knew we were going to win."
Szczur might have played in his final football game, even though he is only a junior. Szczur also plays baseball for the Wildcats. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 38th round of the 2007 major-league draft. If he's drafted again this season, he might leave Villanova early to pursue a professional baseball career. Szczur, who has 1,969 all-purpose yards this season, admitted it wouldn't be an easy choice. "It's a good decision to have to make, but it's a hard one as well," he said. "I do not want to leave my friends here. I want to be able to graduate withthem and hang out with them, but if the money is there, I have to take it."
"I'm speechless," said Whitney, who also reached triple figures on the ground (16-102). "We dreamed about this at the beginning of the season. Once we stopped making mistakes, we knew our line would dominate. All year long, we've done whatever it takes. As a team we gave everything we had, every single time."