Crist Goes Down: Notre Dame Could Be in Trouble

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Crist Goes Down: Notre Dame Could Be in Trouble
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

For many Fighting Irish fans, they may not want to remember the Alamo.  This past Saturday, Notre Dame backup quarterback Dayne Crist was injured in the team's lopsided victory over hapless Washington State.

The injury—if a series of events take place—could prove very harmful to the future of the Notre Dame program.

Typically, a backup quarterback is just that: a backup.  Not good enough to start, the backup simply occupies a roster spot until his talent—or a player's graduation—force a coach's hand.

But in the case of Dayne Crist, he was viewed as much more than just a backup.  Highly recruited out of high school, Crist was and is the heir apparent to current Notre Dame signal-caller Jimmy Clausen. 

Rumors even surfaced during camp this past offseason that Crist could challenge Clausen for the starting job.

Those rumors were likely highly exaggerated, but it shows the supposed value of Crist.

Crist, whose status is still up in the air at the moment, could be out for a significant amount of time.  Crist could possibly be out of action for the rest of this season and beyond. 

If Crist needs surgery or any prolonged rehabilitation, he may not be back until after next season begins.

This problem may not scare Fighting Irish fans at the moment, but it should.

A series of events could happen that will set Notre Dame back several seasons.

First off, Jimmy Clausen could turn pro. 

The junior is a Heisman hopeful who loves the spotlight—remember his press conference in South Bend when he rolled up in a limo?

He is a California kid who is literally on television more than any other college football player, save for maybe Tim Tebow.

Will he be able to resist the glitz and glamor of NFL life?  He's already a national icon, but the difference between Notre Dame life and NFL life is a huge, multi-million dollar paycheck.

With the year he is having (67 completion percentage, 2,318 yards, 18 TD passes), can you really argue against going pro?

Also consider that he'll be a 23-year-old in the 2011 NFL draft, which would likely make him the oldest quarterback available.

The Fighting Irish could lose their best player and star, Jimmy Clausen, in just a few months.

If Clausen goes, one would have to assume wide receiver Golden Tate would declare as well.

Will Tate (56 receptions, 927 yards, 9 TD's) be willing to stay and work with a quarterback not named Jimmy Clausen?  For three years now, the Tate/Clausen combination has been remarkable.

Tate is a dark-horse Heisman candidate at the moment, a rare accomplishment for a wide receiver.

Can you really expect Tate to stay his senior season if Clausen (and Crist) are not throwing him footballs?

Take into consideration what a healthy Michael Floyd might do to Tate's numbers.  You'd have to expect a significant decrease in the 2009 Tate to the 2010 Tate.

So, the Fighting Irish will then have lost their best player and star, Jimmy Clausen, along with their second-best player and second biggest star, Golden Tate, all in just a few months.

If Crist does in fact miss significant time for the Irish, who will be under center next year?

It won't be the current No. 3 quarterback, Evan Sharpley.  He is taking a victory lap of sorts this year for the Irish, and many did not expect—or need—him back this year.  The fifth-year senior has one foot out the door.

If Clausen goes pro and Crist isn't ready for 2010, who is your starting quarterback for next year?

Many have Notre Dame pegged for 11 or 12 wins next season, and a serious run at a national championship.

They won't be thinking that if a freshman is running the show next year in South Bend.

While Michael Floyd, Kyle Rudolph, Armando Allen, and Robert Hughes will all return next year, the Fighting Irish can not be serious players on the national scene with an untested rookie quarterback who will have thrown zero passes in his career.

Notre Dame also will lose at least three starting offensive linemen.  Throw in a rookie quarterback with as many as four new offensive linemen and you have a recipe for disaster.

Notre Dame has taken steps forward over the past two seasons, but they are still nowhere near where they could be in terms of consistent top-ten finishes and multiple BCS bowl appearances.

The loss of Crist could just be the beginning to a downward spiral in South Bend football.

There is not an answer at quarterback on the current roster if Clausen, Crist, and Sharpley are all gone.

Recruit Tommy Rees of Illinois didn't even play on a state playoff team this season.  Fellow recruit Andrew Hendrix is only the No. 9 player in Ohio, according to rivals.com. 

Neither one of these quarterbacks would be ready to step in and lead the offense.

The value of Dayne Crist to the Notre Dame program can not be understated. 

His loss could be devastating.  Let's hope the luck of the Irish can produce some good news regarding Crist's future.

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