CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Andrew Selle's whirlwind season will culminate tomorrow night when Montana faces Villanova for the FCS national title.
And what a season it's been.
By all accounts, Selle, a former star quarterback at Billings West High School, has been through the ringer.
Whether it was surviving early-season jitters, overcoming the expectations of having to replace Cole Bergquist or the task of eventually beating out Justin Roper for the starting job, Selle has navigated his way to this moment without flaw.
Through it all, he has kept only one mind-set.
"I knew that if I worked hard and did everything I could that my chance would come and that everything would work out," Selle said yesterday during media day at Finley Stadium, site of the title clash. "It's been a great year, and we're standing here in Chattanooga."
When Roper transferred to Montana from Oregon during the summer, Selle's future as the starting quarterback was very much in doubt.
Here was Roper - a 6-6 showstopper - strutting into Missoula with a big arm and big-game playing experience.
Selle hung in there and played well enough in fall camp to earn the starting spot for the season opener against Division II Western State, but didn't play well enough to keep it.
Rotating with Roper, Selle was underwhelming in his first-ever start and watched from the sideline for much of the next 2 weeks as Roper took the reins.
But after Roper missed some time after suffering a concussion against Portland State, Selle seized his chance.
The turning point came at midseason when he led the Griz to an impressive, 31-10 win over Big Sky Conference foe Weber State, throwing for 214 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The trend continued from there. Selle has thrown for 2,692 yards with 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions in 14 games.
Selle even showed his playoff mettle 3 weeks ago when he guided Montana to a frantic comeback victory over South Dakota State.
He finished that game completing 27 of 43 for 309 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
"I think Weber State was a big game where we kind of turned around a little bit. I took most of the snaps in that one and really got a lot of playing time," Selle said. "I think that really helped a lot.
"And the big comeback in the second half against South Dakota State really helped confidencewise and really got me in a rhythm."
The Grizzlies have fought through their quarterback questions this season. They know they have the right man under center.
"He's a guy you listen to," Montana running back Chase Reynolds said. "Everybody respects him. You can look at him and when he looks back, you know you're in good hands."