Crist makes it official: Transfer in motion

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It started with a tweet last week (of course it did, this is 2011 after all), quickly deleted after it spread like wildfire through cyberspace:

walkerRcarey Walker Carey
I have a sneaking feeling that I will be a Wisconsin Badgers fan next year.
8 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply
Retweeted by @SeanCwynar98

After weeks of speculating where Dayne Crist would play football next season, the dot-connecting from a random tweet sent by a Notre Dame student that’s friends with the quarterback, echoed by defensive lineman Sean Cwynar, and viewed hundreds of times by Irish fans all across the country officially kicked into motion with news exclusively broken by the Chicago Tribune, though already known by just about every member of Notre Dame nation.

Dayne Crist is officially leaving Notre Dame after he graduates at mid-semester and head coach Brian Kelly has granted permission for Crist to begin talking to schools looking for a quarterback.

“Dayne and I had a good conversation Friday and I have granted him permission to speak to other schools,” Kelly told the Tribune. “Dayne has been a valuable member of our team the last two years and if he feels he needs to look for a better situation then I think we owe that to him.”

That Crist is leaving is far from a surprise. After being named the team’s starting quarterback after a heated battle with Tommy Rees that lasted all through preseason camp, Crist lasted 30 minutes in the role, pulled after an ineffective and mistake riddled half of football against South Florida put the Irish in a 16-0 hole they couldn’t get out of. From there, the senior quarterback — widely (and appropriately) heralded as a team leader — was relegated to the bench, a very visible reminder that the 2011 Irish, a team with high expectations, had disarray at the one position that determines a team’s ceiling.

Crist did get one shot at redemption this season after being relegated to the bullpen. With Rees dazed after a knee injury against USC, Dayne enter the game in relief during the second half. The senior quarterback looked crisp and comfortable with the offense, driving the Irish down the field and completing a clutch fourth down throw to Tyler Eifert to keep a potential game-tying drive alive. But what happened to the hard-luck Crist would crystallize his career under the Golden Dome. Under center and ready to pull the Irish even, Crist fumbled the snap, failing to fall on the ball as it squirted behind him. The fumble was picked up by a Trojan and run in for a back-breaking touchdown. It was the last meaningful snap Crist took under center for the Irish.

The Tribune report targets Wisconsin, Utah and San Diego State as potential landing spots for Crist, who is eligible to play immediately under NCAA transfer rules. Of course, the Badgers just took advantage of the same rule with Russell Wilson, and the fifth-year quarterback led the Badgers back to the Rose Bowl and had one of the most efficient seasons in college football history.

Wherever Crist will go, he’ll need to find his way onto the field and play in a system that accentuates a skillset that had the Southern California natives one of the most highly-rated players in the country coming out of high school. Whether head coach Bret Bielema is willing to take another one-year player, and one far less of a sure bet than Wilson, one of the ACC’s best players, isn’t certain. It’s likely Crist will go some place where the spotlight isn’t quite as bright, a situation that might benefit both team and player equally.

After four winding season and two major knee injuries, Dayne Crist’s career at Notre Dame is over. While it didn’t end the way he had wanted it, he’ll have one last season to reclaim a career path that seemed certain when he first stepped foot on campus.