GRIZ GRIT: Drop-Down Transfers

By Beacon Staff

I have to admit when the initial prospect of having Joe Montana’s son play football for the University of Montana arose, I was, to say the least, intrigued.

As any Griz fan knows, rumors about transfers to UM, especially in football, have begun to surface over the years and have increased as the program has continued to dance in the national spotlight because of its playoff success.

There always will remain the argument that drop-down players, especially at the quarterback position, are a liability and unfair to the players who have been recruited to the program, paid their dues both on and off the field and expect to be rewarded with increased playing time.

Competition at any position is a healthy thing and since most coaches are committed to taking at least one quarterback in any recruiting cycle, one has to realize there always will be quarterbacks on the roster playing other positions to get on the field. And there also always will be one quarterback getting backup snaps and probably another holding the clipboard on the sidelines.

As long as the NCAA allows drop-downs to immediately play when they transfer from Football Bowl Subdivision to the Football Championship Subdivision level, such players will look to prominent programs like UM to ply their trade. And if the Grizzlies are to continue their successes, they will have to consider them.

With the current rule, a player has to have at least two years of remaining eligibility to drop down.

I share Robin Pflugrad’s belief that a player should not be limited as to where he can find his way to the field because of his remaining years of eligibility. If he has the skill and wants to be a starter, he should be allowed to transfer at any time.

Now, admittedly, if you are the parent of an athlete who figures to be a starter and in transfers someone that might upset the apple cart and potentially take away minutes on the field, you’re not going to agree with this sentiment.

Unfortunately, sports aren’t that much different than life. Competition makes the world go round, there are no givens or promises, and the most qualified person, or athlete in this case, will get the nod.

I’ve not seen video of Nate Montana but I have been told that he possesses raw tools, appears in workouts to be dedicated and has been described in some corners as a “good guy.”

I also have heard that some returning players have not welcomed him with open arms, showing loyalty to several returnees at the QB position.

Spring practice will be telling at all positions as the Grizzlies will be looking to improve in several areas. Not having experience at quarterback with a trip to Rocky Top for the opener is, to say the least, concerning.

And, of course, there’s always the chance after spring practice that other drop-downs look to UM for playing time after determining they are buried on the depth chart at the school they are attending.

I wouldn’t say the Grizzlies should welcome that possibility with open arms and they always have done due diligence in that regard, but a school does have to consider the possibilities as they arise.

Montana always will be a freshman-oriented program and that probably is a best-case scenario. But it takes a village to remain competitive and as long as they operate within the confines of the rules, two-and-done will continue to apply.

And like it or not, if you don’t get a player, your rival just might.