Irish eyes aren't going to be smiling anytime soon.
All was right with the world in South Bend before Saturday night. Then came the news that Everett Golson is reportedly no longer a member of the football team, or the school itself (h/t Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune):
The Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton offered more insight into the situation:
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson is no longer enrolled at the school for what two sources told the Tribune is a Residence Life violation.
Notre Dame confirmed only that Golson, who started 12 of 13 games in leading the Irish to the national title game in 2012, is no longer enrolled at the school.
A school spokesman could not comment on when Golson is eligible to apply for re-enrollement or the timing of any possible readmittance. But the belief among the Irish is that Golson will not be available to play in 2013, with senior and former starter Tommy Rees the likeliest candidate to take the reins.
It's easy to see why Tommy Rees is the favorite to take over starting duties in 2013. There isn't a better candidate for the role.
Last season, he threw for 436 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. As a freshman and sophomore, Rees combined for 3,977 yards, 32 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
Those aren't stellar numbers, but they're better than anything with which his competition for starting QB position could counter. Andrew Hendrix has attempted only 44 passes in college, and Malik Zaire—while a highly regarded recruit—will only be a true freshman in 2013.
Even before Golson's apparent dismissal, you had to wonder what the ceiling is for Notre Dame in 2013. The school won a lot of close games in 2012. Even the best teams must ride their luck at times, and Notre Dame did plenty of that last year.
It's hard to harness that kind of positive momentum again.
Not to mention the team must replace Tyler Eifert, Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick on offense and Manti Te'o on defense. That's a lot of production and leadership that's not going to be on the field next year. Now you throw in the possible departure of Golson, and the road back to the top has gotten even steeper.
Some might argue that Zaire should get the job. He's certainly got a lot of potential, but it would make more sense to either redshirt him in 2013 or just bench him and save him for when the Fighting Irish are more primed to make a national title push.
Brian Kelly can hand Rees the starting job and know exactly what he's getting. Rees won't light up the field, but he's good enough to carry the Fighting Irish along for a season, until Zaire's ready and mature enough to start.
Notre Dame's offense will have to adjust a bit to the difference of styles between Golson and Rees. That shouldn't be a huge problem as Kelly has plenty of time before the season to get his team prepared.
Of course, this wouldn't be as much of a problem had Gunner Kiel chosen not to transfer to Cincinnati. Instead, he's left looking a tad foolish, and Rees is the ultimate winner.
Is Rees going to be a candidate for the Heisman Trophy? Almost certainly not. But Kelly could do much worse than making him the starter next year.