Darryl Talley Returns to WVU, Reflects on State of Football - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Darryl Talley Returns to WVU, Reflects on State of Football


Darryl Talley looks like he could still put on some pads and a helmet and make plays for the West Virginia or Buffalo Bills football teams.

Taking pictures and signing autographs before last Friday's homecoming parade, the College Football Hall of Famer could have been preparing to take on Texas Tech with the rest of the players at his alma mater rather than getting ready to serve as grand marshal on High Street.

As it were, Talley hopped up into a truck bed to lead out the parade as the 2013 Outstanding Alumnus for West Virginia University.

"It means a lot," Talley said of the honor. "It means people actually thought about what I did, they cared about what I did and they appreciate what I did while I was here. I'm the same. I appreciate the way they treated me and they made me feel when I was here at the university."

Talley's last honor during a WVU football game was when he was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame back in 2011. On Saturday, he again stood before the Mountaineer faithful at halftime to be recognized for his accomplishments in the game.

Now living in Orlando, the former WVU linebacker watches most of his old team's games from the comforts of his own living room.

"I get a chance to watch and I keep my comments to myself most of the time," Talley said with a smile. "I just sit there and yell at the screen."

Talley can be outspoken on social media when his Mountaineers or his Bills are on his television. He is a throwback. He graduated after the 1982 season and played 14 seasons in the NFL, making four Super Bowl and two Pro Bowl appearances.

With his college squad now in the Big 12, he sees far more success from the side of the ball that he once tried to stop in his playing day. And he doesn't like it.

"All that people want to do is see scoring offenses. That's it," said Talley. "They just want the ball going into the end zone and they want people raising their hands. I hate that, personally."

With rule changes made to curtail the growing trend of head injuries, Talley believes what many others do, which is that lower body injuries will increase as defender are forced to dive for legs rather than making a solid hit up high. In his opinion, this change is only necessary because of a failure to teach fundamentals the way coaches once did.

"I think the way football is being played today, number one, being totally honest, there's no technique being taught in how to tackle," he said. "If they teach people how to tackle, they wouldn't have so many neck injuries."

Talley is encouraged by some of what he sees from WVU's defense this year in the way the players have attacked their responsibilities and the opposing offense, but he acknowledges the room for improvement.

Recruiting, he believes, is the key to changing how defenses stop the up-tempo, spread offenses that are putting up points left and right in both the college and professional games. If the right size and speed of players are on the defensive side of the ball, the game can change.

"Guys have to start recruiting guys who are my size to play defense, to play outside linebacker, to play safety," said Talley, listed at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds at West Virginia. "If you take a look at what the Seattle Seahawks have for defense, look at the size of their defensive backs, look at the size of their linebackers – they're not small guys. They're all big guys that are rangy and can run and will hit you. Basically, what's happened is all of those type of guys have gone to play wide receiver and tight end."

Even changes to the type of athlete on defense may not make the impact that Talley would like to see. When he watches football these days, he sees a sport with front offices and fans who want to see the ball cross the plane of the end zone.

"The game is a collision sport. The guys aren't meant to have pom-poms on," said Talley. "If it was a game called ‘cheering,' that's what it should be called. They actually have to run into each other in this game."

Talley has considered a career in coaching, and perhaps then he could be the change that he would like to see. Until then, he will sit at home in Orlando, television and Twitter in front of him, and he will try his best to bite his tongue as the points pile up and everyone keeps on raising their hands in the end zone. 

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