With Golson gone, Notre Dame’s QB roller-coaster ride continues

SHARE With Golson gone, Notre Dame’s QB roller-coaster ride continues

Kelly and Golson were on the same page for a while, but they couldn’t stay there. (AP/Michael Conroy)

Tuesday’s news that Notre Dame graduate Everett Golson will transfer to Florida State for his final season of football eligibilitywas, in a word, good.

For all involved.

Florida State inherits an able successor to Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Jameis Winston. The addition of Golson, who has passed for 5,850 yards and accounted for 55 total touchdowns in his career, solidifies the Seminoles as the favorites over rival Clemson in the ACC.

Golson gets a better crack at reaching the College Football Playoff than he would’ve had at Notre Dame — where he faced a potential season-long quarterback battle with junior Malik Zaire — and gives new life to his dream of reaching the NFL. And good for him for taking advantage of a rare, wonderfully pro-student-athlete rule that enables a player who has graduated to transfer without having to sit out a season.

And the Irish? They get to bury all talk of Golson’s 22 turnovers during the program’s highly disappointing 2014 campaign andmove into a season of real promise with a clear starter, Zaire.

Nice and neat, right? Well, maybe. Golson still has to nail down the starting job in Tallahassee in training camp, which isn’t a total lock. More pressing for Irish fans, Zaire and coach Brian Kelly have to get on the same page and — here’s the tricky part — actually stay there.

Staying there hasn’t been easy for Kelly with any of his Notre Dame quarterbacks. In 2011, his second season in South Bend, he infamously blew a gasket in the first game and yanked starter Dayne Crist for Tommy Rees. Crist later transferred, but his career never recovered. Rees lost his job to Golson the following year. Golson lost the job to Zaire before last season’s bowl game. And now?

Something tells us young Deshone Kizer, a former four-star recruit who has yet to take a college snap, had better be ready.

It didn’t used to be like this for Kelly. At Grand Valley State, his quarterbacks shattered records and won Division II national titles. At Central Michigan, he helped groom a freshman from Lisle named Dan Lefevour, who went on to start four years and be drafted by the Bears. At Cincinnati, Kelly brought out the best in former no-name recruit Tony Pike, who quarterbacked the Bearcats to the Sugar Bowl and made it to the NFL.

So what has changed with Kelly? The pressure to win at Notre Dame certainly is greater than it was at any of his previous stops. The national spotlight can shine harshly, no doubt. But is there a problem here? Because there sure is a trend.

Kelly didn’t name a starter following this year’s spring practice period. Many observers believed Golson had the edge on Zaire, but we can only imagine what may have been discussed behind closed doors. Perhaps Golson simply wanted a fresh start or to be closer to his South Carolina roots.

But would he really have decided to leave Notre Dame if there weren’t some writing on the wall about yet another Irish quarterback switch?

Maybe Golson knew his head coach’s tendencies a bit too well.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

Twitter: @slgreenberg

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