Temple's Addazio, Villanova's Talley praise Mayor's Cup game before last scheduled meeting

Posted: August 25, 2012

Temple coach Steve Addazio says he would love for his team to continue to play Villanova.

Villanova coach Andy Talley says his team's annual battle with Temple "is a natural" for the city of Philadelphia and both college football programs.

Mayor Nutter and cheerleaders and mascots from both universities put their support behind the annual game during a news conference on Thursday in the City Hall courtyard.

But this season's Mayor's Cup game between Temple and Villanova, set for next Friday at 7 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field, will mark the end of the series for the foreseeable future.

This game will complete the universities' four-year contract, and the teams are not scheduled to play again.

"I'd love to see it continue," Addazio said. "One of the things I love about college football is the rivalry games, and one of the big things about rivalry games is proximity."

Talley said he "would love to play Temple every year," but he noted that Villanova is scheduled to play Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Connecticut in the next three years. As a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) program, Villanova usually plays one Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) opponent every season.

"This game is great because it's two Philadelphia teams playing in Philadelphia," Talley said. "There's no travel. It's great for the fans of both programs."

Addazio, whose team will play in the Big East Conference this season for the first time since 2004, said Villanova represents a challenge for the Owls.

"I've got so much respect for Andy Talley and that Villanova program," Addazio said. "Just turn on the tape, and you can see what they're all about. . . . We're going to be in the deep end of the pool against them."

Temple holds a 2-1 edge in the Mayor's Cup series, with the first two games decided in the final moments. The Owls won, 42-7, last season.

"I'm hoping, fingers crossed, that we can take Temple into the fourth quarter again this season," Talley said. "They are everything [Addazio] wants them to be. They are Temple tough."

Temple returns nine starters from a team that went 9-4 in Addazio's first season and captured the Owls' first bowl-game victory in more than 30 years. Temple also added veteran running back Montel Harris, a transfer from Boston College who is the Eagles' all-time leading rusher with 3,735 career yards.

Villanova returns 17 starters from a 2-9 team. The Wildcats should get a boost from the return of wide receiver Norman White, who caught 69 passes for 886 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010 but sat out last season with a foot injury.

"The tables are turned," Addazio said. "Last year, we had the more experienced team, and this year they have the more experienced team."

Nutter said the annual game between Temple and Villanova is part of the fabric of the sports culture in the "best sports city in the United States of America."

With the move back to the Big East and a $10 million project to improve the football facilities on campus, Temple is looking toward bigger and better things in its future. Next season, the Owls open at Notre Dame.

But Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw said the Owls would like to renew the rivalry with Villanova.

"We'd love to pencil in the first game every year against Villanova," Bradshaw said. "We think it's great for the city."

Contact Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223 or panastasia@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @PhilAnastasia. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports

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