Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Montana Watch 2009

In my haste to beat the rest of the blogosphere to the punch with the news of Nate Montana's imminent transfer to Pasadena City College I didn't include much in the way of analysis or commentary on the move. Here are my thoughts on the matter so far:

I applaud Nate's desire to get on the field and compete. He didn't play a lot of football in high school, so he may just now be realizing that he really loves the game. Now that the competitive fires are burning, it may just be that he wants to leave no stone unturned in his campaign to win the starting QB job and get meaningful playing time. My concern about this novel move is that if he plays well at PCC he will undoubtedly get recruited by numerous other schools that could offer him a much better chance to play quarterback at the D-I level than Notre Dame can. Assuming that Nate plays really well at PCC, he'll return to Notre Dame in 2010 with three years of eligibility remaining (which assumes a fifth year would be granted), and

  • Clausen as the starting QB (if he doesn't leave for the NFL after this season); and
  • Dayne Crist either starting in place of a departed Clausen or sitting as the heir apparent (also with three years eligibility remaining assuming a granted fifth year); and
  • Freshmen Andrew Hendrix and Tommy Rees newly arrived on campus and chomping at the bit for practice reps and playing time.
For his gambit to work, Nate has to play well enough at PCC to put himself in a virtual tie with Dayne Crist in the competition to succeed Clausen as starting Notre Dame quarterback. Given Crist's 5-star recruiting rating and Parade high school All-American pedigree, it seems unlikely that Montana could play himself into that strong a position while missing the 2009 season in Coach Weis' system. But maybe that is exactly his plan. Maybe Nate and his Dad have had a chance to watch Dayne Crist practice and they feel like he is vulnerable to being overtaken by Nate if Nate can get some live-action experience under his belt. As unlikely as it it seems, part of Joe Montana's mystique was built on the fact that he was once buried at 6th string on the QB depth chart at Notre Dame, and was 3rd string at the beginning of the 1977 season when he ultimately led the Fighting Irish to a National Championship. In the Montana household, having just one guy (Crist) ahead of you on the depth chart might look like pretty good odds.

While I sincerely hope that Nate does return to Notre Dame for Spring practice, I am very worried that he might not come back. How tempting would it be for Nate if a dozen head coaches from solid programs are calling him and telling him he could be their starter in 2010 if he transfers to their school? The starter in 2010! Or, go back to South Bend and wait another year for Jimmy to leave and still have to beat out Dayne Crist.

Another aspect of this move which concerns me is that this feels like a bit of a loosening of Notre Dame's traditional stance on junior college players. To be sure, Nate's situation would be unusual, but on some level he wold return to ND as a junior college transfer. Would the University allow an exception for Joe Montana's son? Probably. Would that open the door to a whole new trend in Division I player development? Junior College feeder schools? Would Notre Dame really want to be part of that?

We only saw a little of Nate in the Spring game, but he looked awfully good in very limited action. He was 2 for 2 and seems to throw a very accurate and catchable ball (much like his Dad). I'd be very interested to see a little more of him in action. For those who might want to get a look at Nate this season, here is the 2009 football schedule for Pasadena City College:

Day Date Opponent @ Time / Score
Saturday Sep 05 +Mt. San Antonio Hilmer Lodge Stadium, Mt. SAC, Walnut 1:00 p.m.
Saturday Sep 12 +ECC Compton Center PCC Robinson Stadium 6:00 p.m.
Saturday Sep 19 +East Los Angeles PCC Robinson Stadium 6:00 p.m.
Saturday Sep 26 +Riverside Wheelock Stadium, Riverside Community College 6:00 p.m.
Saturday Oct 03 *Bakersfield (NNC Opener) Memorial Stadium, Bakersfield 7:00 p.m.
Saturday Oct 10 *Ventura PCC Robinson Stadium 1:00 p.m.
Saturday Oct 17 *Allan Hancock Righetti High School, Santa Maria 6:00 p.m.
Saturday Oct 31 *Moorpark PCC Robinson Stadium 1:00 p.m.
Saturday Nov 07 *Canyons PCC Robinson Stadium 6:00 p.m.
Saturday Nov 14 *Glendale Sartoris Field, Glendale College 7:00 p.m.

+ Non-Conference


Anonymous said...

Weis is on the record saying he is open to JC transfers, but that because JC players tend to not be great students, it's not an area that have actively recruited.

Anonymous said...

When I first read the story about Nate, I thought about many of the ideas brought forth by OC Domer, but certainly not all.

The issue about junior college transfers is interesting. It is an area that perhaps Notre Dame will have to consider, but only when the student demonstrates the academic ability to do the course work required at Notre Dame.

On a different level,what if Catholic four-year colleges which have lower division football programs would permit student athletes to transfer to ND? Would we look down on those schools as a source of transfers? Example: A high school football player goes to Creighton and excels in football. At the end of his second year, he wants to transfer to Notre Dame.

Anonymous said...

Um...Bobby Burger anyone? What kind of rules could you really apply to walk-ons anyway?

Anonymous said...

Be careful about the Bobby Burger reference. Anyone familiar with Dayton will tell you it's a great Catholic school and a tremendous 1-AA football program. It is nowhere near a JUCO in terms of academic standards...

Anonymous said...

Nate said himself that his plans are to get some snaps then return to ND this spring. Obviously no news means its time for bloggers to over-analyze every little thing that happens. Give it a rest; this is a college kid wanting to play some football, not a sneaky world-domination scheme.