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Kiel opens up about transfer to Cincinnati

May 10, 2013, 8:00 AM EST

Kiel Kelly

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.

  1. ndfi78 - May 10, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    Good luck to you Kiel, on to the next.

    • poppyitis - May 10, 2013 at 11:22 AM

      We all have these disappointments in life and also the fact that no matter where you go or do there is also competition.. Persistence to pursue you dream was a QB names Kevin McDougal who waited 4 years behind to attain h is most dreamed of chance. To become the number 1 QB for the Irish. and he had A TRULY SUPER YEAR. Another QB was a young man whose last name was , I think Krag. or Krug from California who after getting that spot was found medically unable to continue. HOWEVER, they both have degrees from ND and I hope are HAVING A GREAT LIFE. This young man just made a mistake by leaving, but I do wish him well.

      • thefightinfloyds - May 10, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        Ah poppy tits he didnt make a mistake…the kid (from what ive heard) could potentially be a QB in the big leagues one day. Behind Golson who has 3 years of eligibility left plus he didnt get along with the coach he talks to everyday…its a no brainer. Im glad he stayed in the midwest….Good luck to the kid. Hopefully Cincinnati can siphon off some of Ohio states recruits with Kiel in the picture.

  2. bernhtp - May 10, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    I wonder how much of Kiel’s dissatisfaction stems from Martin not being Morpheus – telling him that he is “The One.” Communicating a disappointing truth certainly can be hard on a relationship, especially for a young kid full of hope, ambition and pride.

    Martin is also known as a Tommy Rees fan. Kiel probably looked at this season as a lost cause for getting meaningful playing time, and not even terribly optimistic about following two years with Golson, the possible return of Hendrix for a fifth, the development of Zaire after a year leading the scout team, and whatever next young stud ND brings in.

    Managing the young ego must be tough for a coach. These kids have been the best all of their lives with everyone fawning all over them. The coach needs to tell them they’re great, but need to work harder to become good enough to play. This message is not always received well.

    But then again, maybe it’s not that simple. Maybe Martin mishandled the situation. I doubt we will ever know except to the extent of what happens with Kiel at Cincy. Will he be a Crist or Wilson? But even that doesn’t really answer the question.

    • nudeman - May 10, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      1. Bern, I think you’re right. In Kiel’s defense, he’s not the only kid to have trouble with this, just as some college stars have trouble adjusting to the NFL.

      2. However … The more I read about Kiel, the more he strikes me as fragile or soft, psyche-wise. That’s not a crime, But with the ridiculous commitment process (3 schools), then leaving after one year at ND, and now pointing the finger at Chuck Martin … come on. STFU and prove you’re a good QB.

      3. I think I’d have respected him more if he gave it one more year and tried to ascend to the #2 spot. If he did that, there’s about a 95% chance he’d play this year, at least a little. How could he have not looked at Rees and said “I can beat him out”? Then, if things didn’t work out, go to Cincy.

      4. Whatever.

      • bernhtp - May 10, 2013 at 2:20 PM

        I agree with #4.

        Notre Dame, especially at QB, is a really tough place to be. You not only need elite talent, but have to work your ass off in the classroom, grind it out physically, compete for your life against other elite talent, etc. Not everyone is up to the task.

      • nudeman - May 10, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        Bern
        What do your sources tell you about just how well Kiel was doing?
        Were they encouraged by his progress? Or disappointed?

        I’ve asked that before (not of you) and have never gotten an answer.

        My guess is that there must have been some disappointment on the part of the coaches, because if they were impressed and excited, I’d think they’d have thought he could easily ascend to #2 this year. Doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

  3. ndrocks2 - May 10, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    Kiel will do fine at Cincy, I still hope it doesn’t come back to haunt us. Rees is capable in a pinch but for extended playing time he will be exposed against top level teams.

    We will never know how Kiel would have turned out and what role Martin played in his decision on leaving. Sounds like a plausible well thought out story from a kid who has had time to come up with a reason to help justify his actions. Is it true? Who knows, and at this point it doesn’t matter.

    Any word on Hendrix transferring?

    • stedward - May 10, 2013 at 10:53 AM

      I think Hendrix is just going to graduate and go to med school. Maybe he develops into the #2 but I expect that to go from Tommy this year to Malik next year.

  4. irish13pa - May 10, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    I still think Hendrix could have been the next… COLLEGE Tebow. He should transfer, he gets some playing time, who knows what he could end up doing.

    Oh Gunner… ya big dope. You probably could have had a great chance at opening some eyes during the spring game… to bad ya tucked that tail between your legs before hand. I for one will not be one who wishes you to shine elsewhere. I do not want us all to look back and say, “wow did we fugg that one up”. Good luck with live and your well being…. but hope you just end up being an average college qb, hahahaha

    • 1historian - May 10, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      Why transfer? He has one year to go until he gets a degree and he wants to go to med school. Transferring makes no sense.

      • poppyitis - May 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM

        His ‘want’ in life is to be a doctor. He is too SMART to think of
        transferring this late . Besides to get into a med.. school , a degree for ND will help him.

  5. 1historian - May 10, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    How many QBs will they recruit for this upcoming class? I would imagine they need 2. Rees is in his 4th and last year. Hendrix can probably get a 5th year, but he is a pre-med major and I assume he wants to go to med school.

    Given that – even if he can get a 5th year – why would he want to? A choice between your 1st year of med school and another year of standing on the sidelines is a no-brainer. So both Rees and Hendrix are gone after this season, leaving two QBs – Golson and Zaire. Which means they should bring in 2 in this upcoming class to have 4.

    • shaunodame - May 15, 2013 at 6:23 PM

      Call me crazy, but if it was ME… Med School isn’t going to go anywhere, it’ll be there whenever he decides to pursue it.

      BUT the opportunity to be on ND’s sideline, to be a part of the Red Army, and to learn from the NCAA Coach of the Year Brian Kelly all of his expertise on the game and the position… I might sit on that sideline, but I’m prolly just a big fan boy lol

  6. ndnapa - May 10, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    I would only bring in 1 QB. He will be running the scout team and red-shirting. If an injury forces him into the #2 role, he still won’t play. If the top 2 QBs get hurt, ND doesn’t win a NC anyway. The probability is that ND will be turning away very good prospects this year, so signing 2 QBs takes away another 4* prospect. One QB recruit next year puts things back in order. The other thing is if the Irish sign a Dawkins, for example, the 2nd QB would be a Hendrix type due to the depth chart logjam. It makes fans feel more secure, but doesn’t help the team win games. Even if ND (or any other team) gets four 5*s on their roster-one will transfer. Sometimes even 3 will chase an enrollee, as happened with Kiel.

  7. shaunodame - May 10, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Wish him the best, I think he’s a really talented kid.

    But on the other hand, these comments only confirm what most people, myself included, were suspecting about Gunner’s willingness to compete.

    Bottom line, if he was the best QB he would play. I feel like coach Kelly and Co. are constantly reiterating that point. “We’re bringing in guys to bet you out” or something to that effect.

    • mtflsmitty - May 10, 2013 at 10:05 PM

      The purest, and college football fan in me, wants to see these kids work hard, compete, and work their way into the starting job at a top school like ND. However, these young men have peers on the hardwoods who only go to college to get their one year done and move to the NBA..

      The guy above who mentioned how so many of these top-flight kids are fawned over, especially a tall, white, pro-style passer is right on target. Gunner is thinking about his road to the NFL 100%. It’s not a good idea. It’s short-sighted. But I expect he’s ONLY thinking about the fastest, smoothest way to The NFL. The fact he needs a starting position ASAP is merely incidental.

      I get it.

      But I think it stinks.

  8. pacific123ocean - May 10, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Good luck young man.

  9. jerseyshorendfan1 - May 10, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    QB is an odd position, as we all know the best recruit doesn’t always pan out. I, for one, wanted to see what Gunner could bring to the team. Now we’ll never know.

  10. 4horsemenrideagain - May 10, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    I never like to see anyone leave ND with the sour grapes feeling that I get from the quote about Martin. Maybe Kiel feels like he was misled somehow or didn’t get a real fair shot, or maybe he’s just trying to shift blame/explain what went wrong at ND so he doesn’t start out at Cincy still trying to get out from underneath the shadow of his recruitment and transfer.

    One thing that was odd, however, was the not-so-veiled complaint about the “relationship” that Kiel had with Martin. This sounds pretty touchy-feely to me. Were they dating? Did they have matching bracelets that said “BFF” (best friends forever)? Of course I’m being sarcastic, but I hear so many players these days harping on the relationship they have with their position coaches, and I ask myself “Is your coach supposed to be your teacher or your friend?” Call me old school, but as a player I’d rather have a coach who will help me develop, contribute to the squad and get to the next level. If our “relationship” suffers because he yells at me, tells me I’m playing like sh!t, or the like, it doesn’t bother me a bit so long as I feel I’m being developed so I can contribute and improve. If he doesn’t help me develop, I don’t blame it on our “relationship,” I blame it on him being lousy at player development.

    Sure, I walked 10 miles to school each day, uphill both ways, but all the same, sometimes players these days seem soft. Can you imagine Mike Ditka, or even Ray Lewis complaining about their relationships with their coaches?

  11. domerboyirish - May 10, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    My biggest issue with Kiel is the timing of his decisions. He commits to Indiana before he’s ready. He stiffs LSU on the day he is supposed to enroll. He announces his decision to transfer from ND BEFORE he competes in spring ball. He’s either not that smart or is getting some bad advice.

    It would have made total sense if he worked his way through the spring to see if he could crack the top 2. He would have been ‘one snap away’ from Golson going down and Kiel being named the starter. He never even gave it a chance.

    Good luck kid! I hope your on the field decisions are better than your life decisions.

  12. 25kgold - May 11, 2013 at 4:16 AM

    Hmmm, so does this mean he’ll stay at ND if there’s repeat success?? http://youtu.be/ezvlqT9zoi8

  13. 9irish - May 11, 2013 at 7:58 AM

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….when they continue this success it will help to clear out this “log jam” that they have going on. You only need so many damned QBs…have to have them staged, kind of like USC has done (yes, I hate saying that).
    But I wish him well….UC is a good school (who built that program?)

    • andy44teg - May 11, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      Hate on this comment all you want but Mark Dantonio laid that foundation.

      • NotreDan - May 11, 2013 at 12:45 PM

        I look forward to the Irish making sparty look like another girl in a skirt again this year.

  14. ralphross373 - May 11, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    At the end of the day, Kiel made the correct decision for him. Recruiting is a crap shoot and when ND loaded up on QB’s Kiel had no choice – not his fault. He is at a crucial point in his career, if he rides the pine through college, his future if any in the NFL is gone. So he has a chance now to develop and play – that’s fair. Coach Kelly is a good guy and he is obviously a great recruiter. Even though Coach Kelly (who coached at Cincy) will never admit it, I think he helped Kiel get there. PS I’m a Cincy grad so that’s another reason that I’m supporting Kiel to do great things.

  15. 25kgold - May 12, 2013 at 2:33 AM

    Make the present good, and the past will take care of itself. -Knute Rockne

  16. fnc111 - May 12, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    I disagree. There is not elite talent at QB for ND. There is elite talent elsewhere on the roster but it’s very average at QB. I wonder why Kelly can’t get any elite talent for that position?

    By the way, Crist played on an awful team last season and has had two major knee injuries. Pretty classless digs at Kiel and Crist on here by some.

    • mtflsmitty - May 12, 2013 at 5:05 PM

      Why don’t you respond to my wager?

  17. martyhealy - May 12, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    I am surprised that Kiel made any comment directed at Martin, even if their was some truth. Martin is not the one that has made three decommitments.

  18. goodfellas17 - May 13, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    Seriously don’t care

  19. goodfellas17 - May 26, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    Seriously, ND fans don’t care.

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