Notre Dame’s aura is gone again. Just like that. It is amazing how every last thing has gone wrong for Notre Dame football dating back to, roughly, opening kickoff of the BCS title game.
Alabama knocked Notre Dame off its axis. But the myth they live by in South Bend, and believe in, is that Irish football is above the dirty fingernails of college football.
Do things the right way and God will be on Irish’s side.
Well, on Saturday night, Notre Dame lost its starting quarterback, Everett Golson, to an academic issue.
Golson wasn’t the star QB some people made him out to be. He was good, he was hope, he was potential. There was a chance he would develop this year into something special. But Tommy Rees, the senior who will likely start now, will be fine. A dropoff, but fine.
The bigger thing that is lost is Notre Dame’s mojo. Its righteousness.
Are the gods angry or something? It is a big deal when Notre Dame’s starting quarterback no longer is enrolled. It just is.
And while we don’t know exactly what Golson did, we do know that an academic issue that rendered him not just off the football team, but also no longer a student at Notre Dame, probably is more than showing up late for class.
All last year, the Irish were winning games when they shouldn’t have, couldn’t have. But since finishing the undefeated regular season:
1) The Irish were rolled over and humiliated by Alabama in the championship game.
2) Manti Te’o — all-around, too-good-to-be-true humanitarian/stud linebacker — was embarrassed to find out his dead girlfriend never existed in the first place. His relationship, all by phone and Internet, was a hoax. (I still think he believed she was real, by the way). Ironically, Golson and Te’o both wore No. 5.
3) Star freshman quarterback Gunner Kiel transferred to Cincinnati.
4) A top recruit who signed with the Irish reportedly is looking for a way to get out of his commitment.
I can already tell you how Notre Dame fans will respond. First, they will be upset that Golson is gone, then angry at him for whatever it is he did. But last, they will point out that at least Notre Dame stuck to its guns, and was willing to throw out its starting quarterback rather than cover up his issue.
The implied ending of the sentence will be this: “The way SEC teams would.’’
That’s not a bad argument, actually, as Notre Dame wants players who graduate and coach Brian Kelly doesn’t seem inclined to bring in thugs and criminals, for the most part.
But an academic issue that gets a kid thrown out is an academic issue, no matter if it’s in the Deep South or under the nose of Touchdown Jesus. College kids are college kids, and reality is that this stuff happens.
Reality also is that Notre Dame is now living in reality, not this mythical, mystical world it thought it was in.
There also have been questions about whether Kelly is strict enough when off-field troubles hit.
Depending on what he did, Golson’s options might be limited. John Infante, the former Colorado State compliance officer who writes Bylaw Blog, says that if Golson is leaving school because of an academic violation, then he no longer will be in good academic standing, and will be ineligible to play next year at any major college, or to have a scholarship. His best option might be to pay his own way to a junior college and then try to get back to a major team.
Again, it’s still unclear what Golson actually did. Original reports had sources saying Golson was kicked out because of a residential-life violation. But the Chicago Tribune later cited sources saying that the issue was academic.
Rees has experience, and even beat Purdue and Michigan last year after Golson was benched. But Rees doesn’t move particularly well, and always is prone to throw an interception at the worst possible time.
“We’re fairly comfortable if we need Tommy to come in and handle some of the offense for us, if we feel it’s necessary,’’ Kelly said after the Michigan game this past season. “He’s a great asset to have, and if you need him to close out a game, we’ll go that route. We’d like to continue to develop Everett so we don’t have to do that, but we’re still going to try to win football games any way possible.’’
That does not sound as if Kelly sees Rees as a big-time starter. Kelly has been known as an offensive mind with an ability to develop quarterbacks. Notre Dame felt that Golson would be the one to build another legend around.