Gunner Kiel has found a home.
The former Indiana commit, former LSU commit and soon-to-be-former Notre Dame freshman quarterback has reportedly decided to transfer from Notre Dame to Cincinnati.
Kiel's transfer destination was shaped by some restrictions—the schools listed on his transfer request would have had to have received Notre Dame's stamp of approval.
According to USA Today, head coach Brian Kelly said that "he is no longer part of the team.'' He also said that Kiel's list of potential transfer spots "were in line with the schools that were appropriate, relative to who was on our schedule."
Since Notre Dame plays Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Boston College, Navy, USC and Stanford every year, those schools would likely have been listed as those to which he can't transfer. Most schools tend to discourage intra-league transfers, but since Notre Dame is an independent football program, its regularly scheduled opponents would serve as its "conference" opponents.
Notre Dame approving Kiel's request to transfer to Cincinnati—the school Kelly bailed from four years ago—was quite chivalrous. If Kiel pans out—and I think he will—maybe Bearcat fans can finally forgive Kelly for his abrupt departure.
Kiel will have to sit out the 2013 season and will have three years of eligibility remaining starting in 2014. Three years is still a long time to play college football, and this one-year transfer penalty will give him a year to mature and acclimate to a new campus without the distractions of football. Kiel was recently interviewed by ESPN about why he made his decision to transfer to Cincinnati.
Cincinnati was the best fit for me because the relationship I have with [quarterbacks] coach [Darin] Hinshaw is like nothing else. He is a great overall person and is someone I know I can get coached by. The group of guys I'm going to be around is second to none. I love where they are heading and the future is bright.
Is this a good choice for Kiel? Actually, yes. Yahoo! Sports reported that Kiel "looked at Ball State, Miami-Ohio and was considering Mississippi, Mississippi State and Kansas State." Going from Notre Dame to a MAC school (no disrespect to the MAC) would be considered a bit of a downgrade and attending an SEC school would have been problematic for Kiel.
One can only imagine the taunts Kiel would have heard about his chest, a reference to Les Miles' public criticism of Kiel and his lack of leadership ability after he backed out of his commitment to LSU.
Cincinnati, on the other hand, makes sense. It's less than a 100 miles from his hometown of Columbus, Ind. It's still in the Midwest, and the fans' expectations under a first-year head coach Tommy Tuberville are probably a bit tepid, making Kiel's timing perfect.
The Bearcats have two senior quarterbacks in Munchie Legaux and Brendon Kay (a sixth-year senior). Legaux was the starter at the beginning of the 2012 season, but Kay leapfrogged him and went on to lead the Bearcats to three consecutive victories, including a 48-34 victory over Duke in the Belk Bowl.
Next year, the starting spot will be up for grabs and Kiel will have finished serving out the one-year penalty. Perfect. Timing.
Kiel's plate will be full—transferring from one school to another can have its trying moments—but at least now he can focus on only two things: academics and memorizing the playbook. The stress of having to compete for the starting spot is no longer on the table.
Kiel's fickleness has elicited many jokes, but then again, most football fans probably don't have his best interests at heart—their team's best interests come first. Adults making light of Kiel's situation probably made his decision-making process more difficult. He's still a teenager, after all. Sometimes you have to try on a lot of shoes before you find the one with the perfect fit.
We're hoping this shoe fits.
Next year Cincinnati will be part of the newly formed American Athletic Conference (unless it gets a better offer from another conference, of course), so there's a lot of new and exciting stuff going on at Cincinnati.
On the other hand, maybe not. According to FOX Sports Ohio, Tuberville said that the team's spring workouts are "all boring, they're all about the same," and that they're, "kind of like watching paint dry."
With 5-star quarterback Gunner Kiel waiting in the wings, Tuberville might be singing a different tune next spring.