By Tony Moss
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Extra resources for A Season in Purgatory: Villanova and Life in College Football's Lower Class
For his part, Talley played the role of the good cop. Any involvement he had with players during practice was invariably to offer praise. Any extended discussion with players either on or off the ﬁeld generally involved grades. Talley may not have known the intricacies of various coverage schemes or blitz packages, but he seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the course of each player’s study, his academic progress, and his social development on campus. Though nearly every coach has publicly heralded the importance of academics, not all have been devoted, or in Talley’s case thoroughly obsessed, with graduating the players they brought onto campus.
Following the 1978 season, by now married to Arlene, a former gymnast at Southern Connecticut, and with a three-year-old son, Josh, Talley would have traveled to the ends of the earth to become a head coach. And that’s exactly where he would have to go to realize that dream. At St. Lawrence College, a Division III school in the remote reaches of upstate New York, twenty-three miles from the Canadian border, the thirty-ﬁve-year-old Talley would ﬁnally receive his shot. At the hockey-mad school, to which the closest big city was Ottawa, Ontario, the young new leader would have to change the culture in order to succeed.
While kicking may have been a concern, the quarterback position was not. Marvin Burroughs was everything Talley and offensive coordinator Sam Venuto could have wanted in a signal-caller. Burroughs had a rocket arm that featured enough precision to run a Villanova offense built around a short passing game, was athletic enough to run the option and scramble if necessary, and even as a junior, had as much pocket presence as any quarterback Venuto had ever been around (a group that included former No.
A Season in Purgatory: Villanova and Life in College Football's Lower Class by Tony Moss