By Stan Silliman
Montana To Montana: Am I Dreaming Or What?
Nate Montana, son of Joe Montana, is transferring from Notre Dame to the University of Montana. Gee, I wonder how they selected that school, hmm? Young Nate surely doesn't have a problem getting his jersey turned around, does he?
Maybe it's because he wants to be a pro player and Montana is known for sending players to the pros. Almost all the Grizzlies' home games are crawling with pro scouts...from the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Calgary Stampeders, British Columbia Lions and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Are we making too big of a deal out of this?
Is it because I wish him well and have hopes to see some confusing headlines in the Missoulian or have award-winning Montana Grizzlies announcer Mick Holien twist his tongue on tricky head-scratching events such as "Montana recovers the fumble for Montana?"
Can we hope?
How will Nate Montana adjust to Montana?
You'd think he's built for it, right? Named for it, right? Big strapping kid...who grew up in Southern California, played high school ball near the beach, went to a big stage at Notre Dame, transferred to a junior college in Pasadena, then went back to Notre Dame, got in a game or two, including a few minutes against Michigan—how will he cope?
Can a blond surfer from California adjust to the rigors of Montana with the weather, the scarcity of people, playing before 20,000 to 25,000 instead of 80,000 to 100,000?
All these questions make you ask more questions.
You might answer, "He went to school at Notre Dame, his dad's alma mater. South Bend is not exactly Miami. He should be able to handle the Montana cold."
We say it'll be a cultural shock. He'll be blown away by kids wearing shorts and sunning themselves...in 40-degree weather.
He'll go to the mall in Missoula and come away bewildered by all the folks walking around with wide-eyed smiles as if they've never been in a mall before or have driven three hundred miles to come to one. We think it will mess with his mind.
He will have heard the phrase, "Montana, where men are men..." but won't know what it means until he sees a few guys carrying inflatable sheep.
When people ask him if he brought his gloves, he'll whip out his Nike football gloves...and they'll laugh.
Some will say he's going to Missoula so he can drop over to Joe, Montana...and borrow money. We'd laugh at that one except to ponder you'd have to borrow a bunch to make the 900-mile round trip cost-effective.
How good is Nate?
That's a little hard to determine. He's got the size (6'4", 215) and a nice throwing motion, but not much game experience. He started playing football later than most. He was third string at one of the best high schools in the country (De La Salle) and only played enough to complete nine out of 18 passes at Notre Dame.
He is not his brother, Nick, the one with 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions in one year while at Oaks Christian in Los Angeles. Nick got a scholarship to the University of Washington.
Nate’s audition was against Michigan when Notre Dame's starting quarterback went down and the second-team guy wasn't ready. Is he good enough to get significant playing time at Montana?
We don’t know but wouldn’t it be neat to have the entire stadium shouting your name… even when you’re on the bench?
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