First came the news that Everett Golson was leaving. Now comes the circus, as we take to the rumor mill to speculate where Golson ends up.
The former Notre Dame quarterback will be free to transfer and play immediately once he earns his diploma. But where he ends up is anyone’s guess. And maybe some unexpected parties—including the SEC and Notre Dame’s athletic department—could have a say in that process.
Some of the earliest speculation as to where Golson would land focused on Notre Dame’s Music City Bowl opponent: LSU. With strong personnel and no true favorite at quarterback, many thought Golson would look to Les Miles and former NFL head coach and current Tigers’ offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for a chance.
Some have also thought returning to home to play for South Carolina made sense as well. Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks also seemingly have a hole at quarterback—and interest in their hometown quarterback— that could make Golson a one-year replacement.
But an SEC transfer rule could make that impossible, especially taking into consideration Golson’s academic mishap at Notre Dame that cost him the 2013 season. Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee dug into the rulebook and came out with SEC bylaw 18.104.22.168 Graduate Student Exception.
Golson’s semester suspension for academic dishonesty clearly runs afoul with provision (d):
“The student-athlete has not been subject to official university or athletics department disciplinary action at any time during enrollment at any previous collegiate institution (excluding limited discipline applied by a sports team).”
Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports, who was the first to get his hands on a comment from Golson, also pointed out the two-year eligibility rule within the SEC bylaws. Bizarrely, it appears that the SEC rules only make way for transfers with multiple seasons of eligibility, not graduate transfer cases, without acquiring a waiver.
“A student-athlete who, upon enrollment at the certifying institution, has less than two years of eligibility remaining, is not eligible for financial aid, practice or competition at the member institution. A member institution may request a waiver from the Conference office for a student-athlete transferring from an institution discontinuing a sport, provided that the student-athlete cannot complete his or her eligibility at the institution discontinuing the sport, or for a student-athlete transferring for the purpose of enrolling in an academic program not offered at the institution from which he or she is transferring.”
News Monday evening started circling Florida State as a potential landing spot. 247 Sports’ first reported that the Seminoles were the odds-on favorite to land Golson. The ACC program has a very large hole to fill after Jameis Winston left early to go No. 1 overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and only junior Sean Maguire with experience.
That news is similar to what I heard from a source late last week with connections to the Golson family. Per that source, Golson is “90-percent sure on Florida State,” and has been aimed that way since before Notre Dame’s bowl game.
Golson’s next home will depend on not just SEC rules, but also Notre Dame’s approval rights. Per Feldman’s report, Notre Dame has blocked Texas and select Big Ten programs from Golson’s choices.
That was met with some furor on social media, though athletic director Jack Swarbrick was quick to go on the record and say that wasn’t true.
“It’s just not true,” Swarbrick told the Orlando Sentinel ACC spring meetings. “The way this process works is a student identifies schools they would like to consider and we have not denied a single school that Everett Golson identified as one he has an interest in going to.”
ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, who dropped the initial news that Golson was leaving agreed with Swarbrick.
With another ESPN report listing Alabama as another finalist, along with “at least one Pac-12 school,” it looks like Golson won’t be reuniting with Chuck Martin or Bob Diaco. McMurphy writes that Golson is only interested in playing for a Power 5 conference.
With graduation scheduled for this weekend, Golson’s final decision needs to come between now and early June, when most teams report for summer classes and workouts. So expect the news to come fast and furious until a final decision is made.