May 10, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
The news of Gunner Kiel leaving Notre Dame was hardly a surprise. The talented young quarterback, who redshirted during the Irish’s 2012 run to the BCS Championship game, departed before spring practice, with an eye on finding an opportunity to play.
It was another switch on an already wayward journey for Kiel, one of the nation’s top prep quarterbacks, who chose the Irish after previously selecting Indiana and LSU. Kiel has taken his fair share of heat for the decision, and finally discussed his thought process with Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Here’s what Kiel said about the criticism he’s taken for burning through three schools after just one year of college football:
“I just tell people I’m doing with what’s best for me. I committed to so many places but I did it all in the right way. I didn’t think I made any dumb decisions. Different places I looked at, the position coach or the coordinator isn’t there anymore. Alabama, Missouri, LSU, Indiana … the position coach isn’t there anymore or the (offensive) coordinator isn’t there anymore. People will have their opinion, but I thought it was in my best interest to not commit or de-commit for that very reason. You can look now, of the position coaches I would have had, none of them stayed.”
What’s interesting here is that Notre Dame’s position coach and coordinator also changed since Kiel was originally recruited to Notre Dame, with Charley Molnar leaving to take the UMass head coaching job and Chuck Martin taking over.
Notre Dame has said nothing officially about Kiel’s move, other than to wish him well on his future endeavors. But while we all saw the obvious roadblock on the depth chart, Kiel’s comments to Groeschen are our first look behind the scenes at Kiel’s discontent in South Bend. Surprisingly, those frustrations weren’t with head coach Brian Kelly, but rather offensive coordinator and position coach Chuck Martin.
I respect Coach Kelly a lot and what he does. He’s a fiery coach and he did me well. My quarterbacks coach (Chuck Martin) and I really didn’t have the relationship I wanted, and that was one reason I didn’t like it. I tried to put in the work.
If you were taking bets on this one, you’d certainly have hit a longshot if you thought it’d be Kiel’s relationship with Martin that was the perceived problem for Gunner. Martin, who is one of the most easygoing coaches I’ve ever been around, was said to be the determining factor in Kiel’s late switch to the Irish, when he made the eleventh hour switch and enrolled before the spring semester at Notre Dame.
In the end, we’ll have to see how Kiel’s career turns out before passing any judgment. There is only one football. And Kiel’s got a much better avenue to a starting job at Cincinnati than he did in South Bend. There are some datapoints that suggest Kiel is going to have to buck up and show some “chest,” but there are also very valid reasons for Kiel’s most recent move, as he explains above.
Ultimately, Kiel hit on the most logical reason he left Notre Dame, and the one that’s the easiest to understand:
“I just didn’t want to run the scout team anymore,” he said.
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