"Oregon was another step up," Talley said.
And now, so is the NFL. A much bigger one.
Talley played New Hampshire seven times when Kelly was the OC. Villanova won the first five, three by seven points or fewer (31-28, 49-42 and 38-35). In 2004 and '05, Villanova lost, 51-40 and 45-17.
It's rarely boring. Yet who figured it would lead to this point?
"It's kind of a reach, don't you think?" Talley conceded. "I mean, to say that you're going to come from New Hampshire, then Oregon, and Oregon to the Eagles. I think even Chip would probably tell you that.
"I think Mike Bellotti took a chance on him, bringing a [Division] I-AA coordinator to Oregon. If it didn't work, everyone was going to criticize that. It just shows that there's coaches at every level. But it's just the perception that most people out there have."
Talley has never had a relationship with Kelly, although he and some members of his staff had planned to go out to Oregon this year to talk with him about what they do and how they do it. His secondary coach, Tony Trisciani, is friendly with Kelly from their days on the New Hampshire staff together (2002-04). Now at least he won't have to travel so far to pick anyone's brain.
"We run some semblance of it now," Talley explained. "I don't think it's considered gimmicky anymore, although I'm sure a lot of people thought that way at first. You just have to sell your team on it, and you have to coach it.
"It's the way they practice that's completely different than most. His strength coach is a track coach. They want to run a play every 15 seconds. It's unbelievable. So you have to train them like a track athlete. That's what's innovative about it.
"They just put so much stress on you. You see them run so many different guys in and you can't stay with them. They all run. He coaches speed. He opened everything up [at New Hampshire]. He took a guy [Ricky Santos] who was, like, a fourth-string quarterback and all of a sudden, it was, like, 'Where'd they get this guy from?' That was the deal. And he wasn't even running the hurry-up yet . . .
"The creativity stretches you horizontally and vertically, which a lot of offenses don't do. They attack all areas of the field. And they never let up."
So, the multimillion-dollar question becomes, can it succeed in the pros?
"That's a rough one," Talley hedged. "I mean, he's a great college football coach, OK. I think if he gets the draft situation down, and continues to do a great job evaluating talent . . . if you give that guy talent, I guarantee he makes them twice as good as the average football coach."