Joe Montana - A Small Fish In A Big Pond At Notre Dame
A Small Fish in a Big Pond at Notre Dame
When Montana arrived at Notre Dame, he found that his status as a high school hotshot counted for little amid the wealth of gridiron talent assembled in South Bend. During Montana's years with the Fighting Irish, a total of forty-six Notre Dame players were drafted into the NFL. Montana saw no varsity action at all his first year at Notre Dame and got only minimal playing time in freshman games. Late in his sophomore season, he managed to pull out two games in the fourth quarter. He then repeated the feat in his junior year, helping power Notre Dame's drive to the national college championship of 1977. Still, he bristled at coach Dan Devine's seeming reluctance to play him more often.
The NFL showed little interest in Montana before his senior year, which proved to be his breakthrough year. In two key games—against Pittsburgh and Southern California—he engineered almost miraculous fourth-quarter rallies to erase significant deficits. The Fighting Irish finished the season with a record of 8-3, winning them an invitation to face off against the University of Houston in the Cotton Bowl. This proved to be the greatest game of Montana's college career. With Notre Dame trailing Houston 34-12 at the midpoint of the fourth quarter, Montana pulled off one of his most amazing comebacks ever. In roughly seven and a half minutes, Notre Dame erased the deficit and won the game, 35-34, thanks to a Montana touchdown pass with two seconds left on the clock.