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 Football Championship Subdivision 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 on Thursday. "They are the only show in town in Montana, and people rally around it much like people do in Pennsylvania with Penn State. We suffer from being in the suburbs in Philadelphia. I think this could have a bigger impact on the Villanova nation."
Actually, 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 (Friday) night, but we can't work any harder. We can't turn over any more rocks than we have in the past."
Talley's not convinced Montana has an edge because of its FCS championship experience.
The Wildcats have their own experience with high-pressure games. They faced West Virginia last season, made a 2008 NCAA playoffs appearance and won the 2009 title in the Colonial Athletic Association, arguably the toughest FCS conference.
"The best you can hope for is to come in having been battle tested and ready to play a topflight team," he said.
- Villanova (13-1) vs. Montana (14-0), 8 p.m. (ESPN2)