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.
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:
| + Non-Conference |