It hasn't exactly been a pleasant 2013 for Notre Dame football, as what appeared to be a turn around in the program's fortunes from the Charlie Weis era has now turned into a rough patch of major problems.
The Irish went to Miami back in January and were essentially run out of the building by Alabama in the BCS Championship Game, losing by a final of 42-14. Team captain Manti Te'o was ran through and around in that one, and then got caught up in a different run around entirely; courting a fake, made up girlfriend.
Now the big news coming out of South Bend is that Everett Golson, the dynamic quarterback that led the team to a 12-0 regular season record, is no longer enrolled at the university. He completed 187 of 381 passes for over 2,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012, and added an additional 6 scores on the ground.
|Photo by: Matthew Emmons
So where does this leave coach Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish football program? The team ranked just 54th in the nation in total offense last year, and their biggest threat on the offensive side of the ball is now MIA.
Kelly has Tommy Rees returning for his senior season. He knows the playbook, seeing action in 29 games over the course of his career. He's your prototypical pocket passer, and won't make the type of plays with his feet that Golson did, but many Irish fans believe Rees was the better option to begin with and would have never lost the starting job had he not been arrested for assaulting a police officer prior to the season opener last year.
There is also the early enrollment of Malik Zaire, a dual-threat quarterback from Kettering, Ohio. He was the No. 3 rated multi-facet signal caller in the nation as rated by Rivals.com. Zaire is a dynamic player the likes of Golson, and is the heir-apparent to eventually win the starting gig, but now is probably too soon.
Also, what does this mean for Everett Golson's future in football in general? Is he going to enroll elsewhere? It is being reported that he plans on trying to regain his eligibility at Notre Dame in the winter of 2014, but by that time, the kid may no longer have a place on the team. Of course that will hinge on how well the other QBs on the squad perform during his extended absence.
One thing is certain, though; Golson has upside. He made great strides in a short period of time last season, beating Landry Jones and the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman, as well as the USC Trojans at Memorial Coliseum in what essentially punched Notre Dame's ticket to the national title game.
While the Irish took a big step towards returning to prominence last year, the loss of their starting quarterback puts them in a pretty precarious situation. Brian Kelly still has a lot of work to do to get this storied program back to where it once was, and it starts with figuring out who will be under center in 2013.