Gunner Kiel couldn’t be patient and now he’s going to pay for it.
Kiel, the top quarterback and 20th best overall player in the 2012 recruiting class, according to Rivals, committed to Indiana and LSU before enrolling at Notre Dame. Kiel, however, lost the starting job to Everett Golson and decided to redshirt.
Instead of waiting for an opportunity to start—no matter when that might have come—Kiel decided to transfer and started to weigh his options. He then chose to go to Cincinnati, according to Tom Groeschen of USA Today. Due to NCAA rules, Kiel won’t be eligible to play until 2014.
"Cincinnati was the best fit for me because the relationship I have with coach (Darin) Hinshaw is like nothing else," Kiel told ESPN’s Joe Schad (via Groeschen). "He is a great overall person and is someone I know I can get coached by. ... The group of guys I'm going to be around is second to none. I love where (Cincinnati) is heading and the future is bright."
What Kiel—and most of the college football world—didn’t expect was that Golson wasn’t going to be the starter for the Fighting Irish next season.
Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune broke the news Saturday that Golson is no longer enrolled at the university.
Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday that Golson is gone due to an academic violation and that it’s believed he won’t be able to play in 2013.
Golson threw for 2,405 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, leading the Fighting Irish to an undefeated regular season—though falling 42-14 to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.
The loss of the quarterback is of enormous proportions to Notre Dame, as the program will now need to find a new leader for the upcoming season. Former starter Tommy Rees is expected to be the front-runner, according to Hamilton, but Andrew Hendrix will likely be in the mix as well.
One can only wonder how Kiel would’ve fit in if he had decided to give it just one more year at Notre Dame. Rees was never as successful as the Fighting Irish hoped, and Kiel had more promise than Hendrix despite neither ever throwing a pass in a college game.
If Kiel didn’t transfer, there’s a strong likelihood he would be starting under center for Notre Dame come the season opener against Temple in late August.
Even if Golson were still enrolled at Notre Dame, there still would’ve been a chance for Kiel to see some time. Golson could’ve gotten hurt or decided to enter the NFL draft after the upcoming season, leaving a void at quarterback for either Kiel or Hendrix to fill.
Now, Kiel will sit next season while two of his former teammates compete for the job he could’ve easily won. But Kiel just couldn’t wait and for that, he lost the opportunity of a lifetime.