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Luck of the Wolfpack – Joe Montana Flipped from NC State to Notre Dame

NC State Football

Luck of the Wolfpack – Joe Montana Flipped from NC State to Notre Dame

Luck of the Wolfpack – Joe Montana Flipped from NC State to Notre Dame

About 25 miles outside of Pittsburgh, sits Carroll Township and its five thousand residence.

Like most townships that size; it’s quiet, remote and unworthy of any kind of extensive chronicling of events. It has, however, raised some notable athletes.

First it was Stan Musial, then Ken Griffey Sr and Fred Cox. In the early 70’s, it turned it’s attention once again to another athlete, Joseph Montana, Jr.


One Offer, Multiple Sports

Montana played baseball, basketball and football, the latter two were his biggest loves. An All-State player and state basketball champ, he was also a two-year starter and All-American in football. Colleges from across the country flooded the small town in order to talk to Montana.

But one stood out in particular.

NC State pushed hard for Montana on the simple premise, that if he joined the Wolfpack, he could play both football and basketball. While State basketball coach, Norm Sloan, did the pursuing, it was Lou Holtz and the football team that found Montana first;

“It was funny though, my staff didn’t even come up with his name – the football team did. When they asked if we would want him, I said, ‘Of course we would want him!'”

Sloan couldn’t have been in a better position to persuade Montana. In the previous two seasons, State had gone 58-1 with a National Championship. The pieces were in place to allow for a smooth transition for Montana. Once Sloan saw him, he knew he could be special at State.

“We offered him the chance to play both basketball and football, gosh, we thought he was outstanding.”

The last time Sloan left Pennsylvania, he thought it was all but done…


Montana Becomes a Legend

In the end, Montana picks Notre Dame because of two reasons. First, he wanted to follow his childhood idol, Terry Hanratty, who also went to ND. Another piece to the puzzle, reportedly, is Montana’s own Dad pushed for him to go for basketball, because it was the “easier route.” Joe took offense, like just about any teenager, and decided to focus on football to prove him wrong.

So thanks for nothing Joe Sr…ya jerk…

We know how the rest of the story goes. Montana shows up to South Bend and sits a few years with the ND program in a mess. Finally starts and eventually gets them a National Championship. Gets drafted, wins four Super Bowls and is consistently ranked as one of the top football players ever.


What if Montana Arrived in Raleigh?

We had so much damn fun digging into what happened if Shaq picked State, and In that scenario, the pieces were actually PERFECTLY aligned.

Montana’s time at State? Probably not what you’d think.

Montana would have most likely seen limited action in his freshman year, for both sports. In basketball, he would have been coming onto a team that still had Thompson and was relatively young. Hard to say if he would have been able to swing a few points in States favor. Maybe they finish slightly better than 22-6, but nothing crazy.

Football team also had a pretty solid year going 9-2-1. Could Montana have stepped in with Fritts and Hooks in the backfield and made the difference?

It’s understated how big of a mess Notre Dame was when Joe arrived. State, for either sport, was in a solid position to win from the get-go. While Montana’s college numbers aren’t great (30 Total TDs – 25 INTs), he was the player that willed his team to win. After taking over as starter in Week 3 of his Junior season, the Irish went 18-3, with two of those losses against top-5 schools. It may not be pretty, but State would have won some more games.

Maybe Joe Montana would have pushed State over the edge and into national contention. We’ll never know. But damn, wouldn’t we have been so lucky…

*Quotes from Sloan first appeared in the Greensboro News & Record



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