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The 'Cats Meow: Villanova football faithful celebrate national championship
VILLANOVA — If you were looking for a hip, happening hotspot where you could watch the Villanova football team take on the Montana Grizzlies in Friday night’s FCS championship game, well, Villanova, itself, wasn’t that place.
The combination of the last day of finals, the availability of buses heading to the game in Chattanooga, Tenn., and a looming monstrosity of a snowstorm kept students from filling the usual near-campus hangouts, leaving just a few to root for the Wildcats on their home turf.
“It’s pretty deserted,” said Mike Kelly of West Chester, a bartender at the Erin Pub on Lancaster Avenue. “The kids pretty much took off after finals wrapped, and the cold weather isn’t helping, either.”
Still, Kelly and Nick Pizzo of Bryn Mawr, both graduates of Villanova, were happy to hold down the fort for their brethren — many of whom could be seen on the television hanging just above the bar.
“They just panned through the stands, and I saw a guy from my fraternity standing in the rain, screaming,” Pizzo said. “I haven’t seen this much excitement at the games since my freshman year, when Brian Westbrook was playing for them. Things are back where they should be.”
At least that was the attitude in the stands in Chattanooga. At to home, things were a less enthusiastic.
Among the handful of ’Nova fans at the Erin Pub was Jim Quinn of Broomall, an employee in the biology lab at Villanova, who said he just happened to show up at the bar as the game was starting.
“I kind of forgot it was on, to be honest,” he said. “The campus was a ghost town today, which I guess explains why the bar is so empty.”
A mile or so down the road, employees at Tip O’Neill’s pub tried to amp up the enthusiasm by lining the front of the establishment with Villanova banners and blue and white balloons. The decorations were moderately successful — about 25 fans were on hand to watch the game there.
“It’s definitely quiet,” bartender Stephen Snyder said, noting that a much larger crowd showed up for last week’s semifinal against William & Mary, which took place while classes were still in session. “I think a lot of students actually went to the game. I had heard they were running buses to Chattanooga the last couple of days.”
Jimmy Davie of Upper Darby wasn’t one of the lucky ones with a bus pass to the big game, but from his barstool in front of Tip O’Neill’s big-screen TV, he was willing to make the best of the situation.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of Villanova basketball,” he said. “Over the last couple of years, though, (head coach) 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.
“If they win tonight, it’s 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. If they bring home a championship, it would be a very, very fitting. I would be very happy about that.”
The ‘Cats Meow: Villanova football faithful celebrate national championship