As a redshirt freshman quarterback in 2012, Everett Golson led Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season and a berth in the national championship game. On Thursday, he announced he'd play his final season away from South Bend.
ESPN’s Brett McMurphy first reported that Golson would seek a transfer for his final season of eligibility. In a statement given to FOX Sports’s Bruce Feldman, Golson said, "After much thought, prayer and discussion with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to graduate from Notre Dame and transfer to another school effective immediately.”
Malik Zaire, Golson’s backup for most of last season and the Fighting Irish’s starter for their Music City Bowl win over LSU, is the presumed successor at Notre Dame. Golson’s future, however, is less certain. The quarterback is set to graduate from Notre Dame this month and will be eligible to play immediately at another program.
Given his productivity in two seasons as a starter (5,850 passing yards with 55 total touchdowns and 20 interceptions), Golson should have plenty of options for where he continues his career. And he will likely be linked to many different programs before he ultimately makes a decision. So, which schools seem to offer the best fit? We make the case for and against five that should be on Golson’s radar.
1. Florida State
Why it makes sense: Jimbo Fisher’s last quarterback won a Heisman Trophy and turned into the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. In fact, a number of Fisher’s protégés—Jameis Winston, EJ Manuel, Christian Ponder and JaMarcus Russell—have thrived as college starters. With or without Golson, the Seminoles should again enter this season as ACC and College Football Playoff contenders.
Why it doesn’t: Florida State loses seven starters on offense, including four linemen. A turnover-prone quarterback like Golson—he had 22 last season—might struggle to develop chemistry in one season with an inexperienced group.
2. South Carolina
Why it makes sense: South Carolina’s quarterback competition between Perry Orth, Connor Mitch and Michael Scarnecchia went nowhere during spring practice. Steve Spurrier could use a proven commodity like Golson in Columbia, which sits less than three hours from Golson’s hometown of Myrtle Beach. He could form a dynamic pairing with All-SEC wide receiver Pharoh Cooper.
Why it doesn’t: Last season the Gamecocks finished with their worst record (7-6) since 2009. With just four offensive starters returning, a turnaround is hardly a guarantee. Plus, as Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee noted back in January, Golson’s '13 suspension for a violation of Notre Dame’s honor code may prevent him from landing at an SEC school.
Why it makes sense: The first season of the Charlie Strong era ended with the Longhorns’ quarterback situation up in the air. Need proof? Earlier this year Strong couldn’t remember the name of his 2014 starter, Tyrone Swoopes, during a deposition in a lawsuit. Golson's arrival would provide a possible solution under center, and could spark an offense that returns eight starters.
Why it doesn’t: Texas might not be ready to contend for a conference title even with Golson. For the moment, the Big 12 looks like it will again go through Baylor or TCU. Austin also isn’t the place for Golson if he wants to put his past behind him: The Longhorns open the 2015 season at Notre Dame.
Why it makes sense: LSU entered spring practice facing the same question as last year: Who is the starting quarterback? For the second straight off-season, the Tigers appear to lack a standout option between Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings. Throw Golson in with a roster that brings back 15 starters—including star running back Leonard Fournette—and LSU could look very dangerous.
Why it doesn’t: LSU plays in the SEC West, arguably the most competitive division in college football. And while neither Harris nor Jennings has consistently produced, both have shown flashes of potential. Would Golson be the guaranteed starter if he goes to Baton Rouge?
Why it makes sense: After struggling and losing his starting job to a former wide receiver, quarterback John O’Korn opted to transfer from Houston at the end of last season. That leaves an opening in an offense now run by coach Tom Herman, Ohio State’s offensive coordinator during last year’s championship run. Herman’s track record with the Buckeyes suggests he’s quite the quarterback guru.
Why it doesn’t: Golson isn’t winning a national championship any time soon at Houston. He came close to getting one at Notre Dame, but his chances of winning anything more than an American Athletic Conference title would be very slim with the Cougars, especially in the playoff era. Is a transfer to Houston worthwhile if it culminates in a trip to the Armed Forces Bowl?