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Crist moving on to Kansas, but forever a Notre Dame man

Dec 22, 2011, 1:36 PM EDT

South Florida v Notre Dame Getty Images

There was no hat picking or press conference. The process was condensed into three short weeks, a far cry from the recruitment of one of the nation’s top prospects back when he was a highly-touted prep quarterback in Sherman Oaks, California with offers to play football from just about every major program in the country. But after some soul searching and discussion with his family, Dayne Crist announced he’ll spend his final year of collegiate eligibility with the man he originally entrusted with his football career.

Crist took to Twitter Thursday afternoon to announce he’ll be rejoining Charlie Weis at Kansas, all but assured a starting job for one season and the ability to reclaim a career that seemed destined for the NFL when he walked onto Notre Dame’s campus four years ago.

“After a long and difficult decision making process, I’m incredibly excited to join the Kansas football team. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!” Crist announced.

There’s been thousands of words dedicated to the star-crossed career Crist has had so far. After following in the footsteps of fellow Californian Jimmy Clausen, Crist was a good soldier, waiting his turn to run Weis’ pro-style offensive attack, even filling in admirably during Clausen’s junior season when he injured his foot. But during mop-up time in the Irish’s blow-out victory over Washington State, Crist scrambled and injured his knee on a fluke play, tearing his ACL and suffering the first of two injuries that would take his career off course. The second came nine games into Crist’s first season as the starting quarterback, rupturing his patella tendon against Tulsa and handing the offense over to freshman Tommy Rees.

Crist’s career at Notre Dame will never be remembered for his achievements on the field. Crist’s last meaningful snaps as a starting quarterback came against South Florida, with the Irish offense stuck in neutral and scoreless, down 16 points at halftime. Crist was replaced by Tommy Rees and never reclaimed the starting job. He had one last shot at redemption against USC, but Crist’s impressive drive down the field against the Trojans defense ended when he fumbled a snap under center, which was recovered and returned for a back-breaking touchdown by USC safety Jawanza Starling.

Interestingly enough, Crist’s detour from South Bend to Lawrence, Kansas will be a more straight-forward route than his former coach’s, who after being fired from Notre Dame left to coordinate the Kansas City Chiefs offense before heading to the Florida Gators to run Will Muschamp’s offense. The season in Gainesville took some shine off Weis’ resume, but it also opened up the opportunity for Weis and Crist to reunite.

Crist’s modest career numbers might not endear him to the Notre Dame faithful, but his ability to handle the adversity in his career should be embraced by all. Crist kept the frustration he had after losing his job private, and continued being the team leader the Irish needed even after losing his job, mentoring Rees and Andrew Hendrix even with the writing on the wall that his opportunities at Notre Dame were over.

In a wonderful interview with The Observer’s Douglas Farmer, Crist talked about the challenges of this season and the career he’s had for the Irish.

“Listen, no one wanted to be successful at Notre Dame more than I did,” Crist told The Observer. “Sure, you wish for all the best and things like that, but at the end of the day, you have to deal with the experiences you have to go through. You have to deal with adversity, and do all these things. Sit and wonder ‘What if this?’ or ‘What if that?’ but that is not a world I want to live in.”

Instead, Crist spent Monday walking around campus, soaking in the familiar sights and sounds one last time before moving forward with the job ahead. The football program at Notre Dame has ground up and spit out many players and coaches that didn’t reach the success expected from them by a demanding fan base, but to Crist’s credit, he’s been able to separate the experience he’s had off the field from the misfortune he’s had on it.

“It was sad driving away, but I knew it wasn’t a goodbye forever thing,” Crist told The Observer. “I knew I’d be back, hopefully doing the same walk with my kids someday. I’m always going to be a Notre Dame man. You’ll never be able to take that away from me.”

Crist will finalize that status in May, when he returns to campus to walk with his graduating class. An accomplishment all the more impressive when you consider the road he traveled to get there.

  1. schuey73 - Dec 22, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    I wish nothing but the best for him at KU and beyond. He’s a total class act!

    • tedlinko - Dec 22, 2011 at 2:54 PM

      Absolute class act.

      Sometimes it’s easy to forget that these athletes whom we all follow are actually college students as well. And the college experience is more than just football, even for these guys.

      Those of us who were fortunate enough to spend four years at ND know what an incredible place it is. And that time, and those memories, is something that can never be taken away. While Dayne never realized the kind of success on the field that he and others expected, he’ll always have that ND degree and all the memories and experiences that go along with it.

      Best of luck, Dayne I suspect there’ll be a fair number of Jayhawk fans on this board next season.

    • oldndgrad - Dec 23, 2011 at 10:05 AM

      Truly a class act. Not many could have reacted so graciously to being treated so unfairly. Definitely has NFL potential. I’m ND forever, however I will never be a BK fan.

  2. ndfan4ever - Dec 22, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    Good luck to you Dayne you are a class act and a Domer forever. I hope that you have a great year next year at Kansas and beyond. Best wishes

  3. 9irish - Dec 22, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    Kinda sad. I know it’s happened hundreds of times before, but without our email/cable/internet world nobody really knew about it . I hope he does well out there. He had some very bad luck on the field. I hope his fortunes change and he gets drafted into the NFL.

    • trbowman - Dec 22, 2011 at 2:38 PM

      It’d be a much bigger story if he chose Wisconsin.

      Not to mention everyone’s talking about Barkely’s announcement

  4. trbowman - Dec 22, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Hope Weis & Crist enjoy a lot of success at KU

  5. smurphdoggy29 - Dec 22, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    All the best Dayne, congratulations, and good luck ! Rock, chalk, Jayhawk !

    Here’s hoping you have the kind of season Wilson did in Madison, you deserve it !

    Glad to hear you marshaled through, and will always be a Domer !

  6. nudeman - Dec 22, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    Sure wish it had turned out differently for Dayne. Not many kids would have handled this with the grace he has at that age. A very impressive man.

    Hope he just kills it at KU.

  7. jerseyshorendfan1 - Dec 22, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    The story of Dayne Crist would make for a very compelling novel with all of the ups and downs he’s had in such a short time. I hope he gets a chance to write the next couple of chapters in a positive light: success at KU; being drafted into the bigs; success in the pros, etc. Everybody loves a good story of redemption and I hope Dayne gets his in spades. Good luck.

  8. bernhtp - Dec 22, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    May Dayne pass for 500 yards a game, win the Heisman, and be the first pick in the NFL draft. A class act like that deserves a fairy-tale ending.

    • irish4006 - Dec 26, 2011 at 2:05 AM

      While I wish them both well, I think the order is taller for Charlie than Crist. I thought CW’s biggest problem was the inability to plan/coach/execute a complete game, further complicated by poor recruiting and player development which was only exposed later in his ND days. Brady Quinn was a great student of the game who was able to, with the help of Samardjiza, pull out a couple of great seasons (marred by poor showing in defense), the only bright spot in CW days.

      I hope CW learns from the mistakes, tones down the arrogance a little, and becomes the coach we all wished he would be.

  9. davisjosh20 - Dec 22, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    not a notre dame fan, nor hater, but I did like Dayne’s play, when he forbade chance to show his skill. I must say as a long time reader of this, and the sister sites, it’s endearing (although I know this is an ND based site) to not see one single negative thing on here as of yet about a kid. And these, as you all know well, are just kids. You have a fan in KY, Dayne. Best of luck!

  10. alsatiannd - Dec 23, 2011 at 7:32 AM

    On any team I put together, no matter the task or the project, I look hard for people of Crist’s character. Crist will be a very successful man. Good luck Dayne.

  11. hiyamaya00 - Dec 25, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    A lot of love for this average QB. Too bad the Irish coaches don’t agree on his talents.

    The kid is an average college QB at best.

    Fat Charlie will bench him again before his career is over.

    • irish4006 - Dec 26, 2011 at 1:51 AM

      Merry Christmas to you, too. :-)

      We are wishing him well, not saying he is the best quarterback out there. People who follow ND football saw glimpses of great QB play from him and have also been disappointed a few times. One thing no one can argue about is the way he carried himself. He is a great young man with a good head on his shoulder.

      Wish you all the best, Dayne Crist!

  12. jackmurphy143 - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    Dayne struck me as a very fine young man. Whether he gets the opportunity to play pro or not only time will tell but I hope he gets to start for Charlie and win a bunch of games. Certainly injuries kept him from reaching his full potential and so I also wish him an injury free Senior year. God bless you Dayne from one Californian to another.

    I agree Charlie needs to step up more than Dayne does. Conditioning and run blocking were mediocre at best during his years at the Dome. His offensive play calling was spectacular but it seemed like they lost so many games due to running out of gas in the fourth quarter and not being able to run the ball.

    I hope Charlie solves that problem at Kansas – he needs to have his team run a 100 40’s at the end of practice like we all did in high school. It sounds sadistic but its necessary. And he needs to bring in a set of blocking metal posts so that if they stand up when blocking the dummies they get hit in the head (with their helmets on of course). That teaches people to fire off low real quick. You can use a set of ropes too – its cheaper and safer.

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