In a mostly-overlooked headline in the offseason, a 6th-year senior lineman named Dan Wenger transferred from Notre Dame to Florida. At Notre Dame, he was not even medically cleared to play. At Florida, he is the starting center. That backdoor move may some arbitrary, but of course it is not. Wenger's first four seasons as an NCAA football player were played under head coach Charlie Weis. Weis is now his offensive coordinator at Florida.
Don't be surprised if Dayne Crist makes a similar move. In his first game as the starting quarterback for Notre Dame this season, he was benched at halftime for his ineffective play, completing only 7 of 15 passes, and tossing a costly interception on the goal-line against South Florida. There is plenty of football left to play for the Irish, and Crist could definitely get another shot if Tommy Rees gets hurt or if his turnover habit continues. But Rees' accuracy and Notre Dame's win over Michigan State does seem to have mostly sealed Crist's fate a a backup for the season.
Crist is a senior who can graduate from Notre Dame in December. He has downplayed transfer talk in the past, but this time it would be hard to pass up if he has any interest in ever playing football again. NCAA rules allow athletes with a bachelor's degree to play immediately at a new school if they are enrolled in a graduate program. It's just too convenient. (Just ask Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson, who transferred in from North Carolina State.) He could enroll in classes next spring and learn a new offense in spring practice.
Why would Florida be an appealing move for Crist? The first part is obvious. Crist was a brilliant, highly-touted quarterback from the West Coast. His 6-4, 235-pound frame has the pros written all over it. No one disputes his arm strength. Critics are quick to point out his history of injuries and accuracy problems, but those critics would do well to look at Weis's success with quarterbacks: Tom Brady in New England, Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen at Notre Dame, Matt Cassel in Kansas City, John Brantley at Florida. A pretty good resume, indeed.
If there is one in that crew who is worth comparing to Crist it may be Brady Quinn. Quinn, too, has had his accuracy problems, but thrived in Weis's system and is now enjoying a career as a backup quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Crist sat behind Clausen for two seasons while Charlie Weis was the Irish head coach, so he would be able to pick up Florida's offense pretty quickly.
None of this is to suggest winning an SEC quarterbacking job would be easy for Crist, who has been mostly a disappointment at Notre Dame. What does the Florida quarterbacking situation look like currently? The Gator quarterback, John Brantley, is a senior with no eligibility left after the 2011-2012 season. Make no mistake: Brantley's backup is a stud. He is a freshman named Jeff Driskel, and he was as coveted as any quarterback from his class. But if there's anything Crist's career proves, it's that high school success does not a good college career make. Either way, Driskel could probably benefit from another year of learning behind a veteran like Crist.