Everett Golson has reportedly departed from Notre Dame, and that significantly hurts the Fighting Irish's hopes of contending for a BCS National Championship.
The news was broke by Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune on Saturday:
Now, Golson has mentioned to ESPN's Tom Rinaldi that he does plan to return after his suspension:
If any good comes from this, however, it's that Notre Dame continues to have academic integrity.
It's what every college or university at any level must prioritize. So, hats off to the Irish for holding Golson accountable.
As for the 2013 season, Coach Brian Kelly and the Irish obviously need to look for another signal-caller. Regardless of who is under center, though, no one can match what Golson provided throughout 2012.
His decision-making was stellar, especially for a redshirt freshman. Finishing the season with 18 total touchdowns (while throwing a mere six interceptions), a 58.8 completion percentage and 2,703 total yards, his impact will be tough to replace.
Factor in Notre Dame's challenging schedule—with away games against Michigan, Pittsburgh and Stanford, home games against Oklahoma, Michigan State and USC and a neutral site matchup againts Arizona State—and the Irish are staring mediocrity in the face.
The offense has already lost key components in Tyler Eifert, Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick to pro football. Therefore, Golson's arm strength and his knack for improvising was going to be relied on more than ever.
With Manti Te'o and Zeke Motta joining the NFL, more pressure is put on Notre Dame's defense, especially with an offense that is expected to struggle. Even with star talents Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt and Bennett Jackson, this defense is going to take the Irish only so far.
Nevertheless, this is the current situation and Notre Dame must press onward.
Veteran Tommy Rees is capable of leading, but he still lacks arm strength and a quick delivery. Despite his accuracy and ability to quickly execute pre-snap reads, his limited mobility restricts Kelly's offensive playbook.
Other potential options include Andrew Hendrix and Malik Zaire.
Hendrix is the more experienced of the two, but he is far behind Rees in terms of experience. Also, former Irish quarterback Gunnier Kiel immediately crushed any speculation of returning to Notre Dame, as reported by Tom Groeschen of The Cincinnati Enquirer:
“I’m a Bearcat.”
That was the one-sentence text message to The Enquirer from University of Cincinnati football quarterback Gunner Kiel this morning, amid speculation that the former Notre Dame QB could return to the Irish.
Mesh together the quarterback situation, the schedule and the loss of players to the NFL and Notre Dame faces an even steeper uphill climb without Golson in 2013.