Even though Everett Golson has a semester to go before he graduates from Notre Dame, the rumor mill has already started to churn about potential transfer spots for the Irish quarterback. A report from Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune claims Golson reached out to LSU about potentially spending his final season of eligibility with the Tigers.
That Notre Dame just beat LSU in the Music City Bowl makes the timing of the alleged inquiry more than interesting. But after seeing the quarterback play the Tigers got out of Anthony Jennings, Golson would likely have an open door to the starting lineup even with promising rising sophomore Brandon Harris on the roster.
It took just minutes for Golson to throw cold water on the report, taking to Twitter to presumably refute the report. But it shouldn't just take a Golson denial to understand why there are significant roadblocks to a transfer.
A few of the biggest hurdles:
Golson doesn't graduate until May, making any decision to explore options now more than a little premature. That means Golson will be on campus—and on the roster—for spring football, 15 very important practices for a team with lofty aspirations in 2015. If Golson is already looking for a way out, that isn't likely to sit well with his head coach, let alone his teammates.
Also clouding the situation is Golson's actual eligibility to play for LSU. According to The Times-Picayune report, while a ban on allowing graduate transfer players has been lifted, Golson's admission at any SEC school would need to go through a waiver process.
LSU is exploring the possibility but would have to obtain a waiver from the conference office since Golson was declared academically ineligible for the 2013 season. The SEC rule allows graduate student transfers without waivers if the student maintained eligibility, had no significant disciplinary issues at the old school and earned all possible APR points.
The academic suspension that Golson served during the fall semester that cost him the 2013 season is worth pointing out. It was the first opportunity Golson had to transfer away from Notre Dame, opening the door for him to play for another program essentially free of charge (Golson would've had to sit out a season but would've been able to practice with the team, a better fate than the one he received in South Bend). That he returned but wants to leave now feels at the very least contradictory.
While he wasn't made available after the Music City Bowl victory, Golson confirmed to Irish Illustrated that he would be back on campus for the spring semester and graduating in May. He also said he would've benched himself after two first-half turnovers against USC. That's not necessarily the talk of a player with one foot out the door.
Any potential transfer is sure to get the heart rate up of Irish fans anywhere. But this is a story that literally can't advance until May, when Golson earning his diploma would considerably open up his options. From there, a departure from South Bend would mean Golson believes he's better served learning a new offense in 60 days than fighting for his job. That's quite a gamble for a quarterback many still believe has an NFL future.
Like Dayne Crist and Andrew Hendrix before him, the last two fifth-year quarterbacks in Brian Kelly's program have exited for greener pastures. But after starting 12 games and leading the Irish offense to its most prolific output under Kelly, any move by Golson is a scenario that still feels unlikely.