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Everett Golson Transfers to Florida State: A Goodbye

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An era is officially over in South Bend.

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

A few media outlets were quietly saying Everett Golson was going to choose the school he'd be transferring to following Notre Dame's graduation this past weekend. Today, he decided he'll play his last year of college football for the Florida State Seminoles.

Statement from Golson via Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman:

"This past weekend has been a defining moment in my life as I am proud to say I am a graduate of the University of Notre Dame," Golson said in a statement to FOX Sports. "The support I've received there over the past four years has helped strengthen my integrity, wisdom and character. I would like to thank all of the coaches who spent time speaking with me these past few weeks and considered adding me to their football programs. Their interest and sincerity was truly humbling. After much thought and careful consideration, I will utilize my fifth year of eligibility to join the Florida State University Seminoles. To coach Jimbo Fisher, the Florida State football team, staff, alumni and fans, thank you for allowing me to become part of the Seminoles family. I can't wait to get started."

I had a rough idea for a 'goodbye' post formulated that ran through some of the big and not-so-big moments of Golson's career. Then I decided to scrap that and just haphazardly write about Golson-related stuff as it popped in my head. I figured it would fit the make-something-out-of-nothing style that Golson exceeded so well at, anyway.

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Remember how frickin' awesome Golson's high school highlights were? Not only were there scores of laser touchdown passes from this wiry arm but it featured the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack. Sadly, the copyright goons got to the YouTube video and blocked the music, but we still remember. Also, you'd be surprised at how few people actually watch highlight videos on YouTube even with how big of a growing business recruiting is these days. That video is going on 150k views and that's no joke.

Pound for pound Golson might have the best arm of anyone who has ever thrown a football in an Irish uniform. I feel bad that the Lord only blessed him with sub-6'0" height but damn does he have such a tantalizing combination of a smooth and quick delivery with a really strong arm.

Gun to my head I think Golson decided to leave Notre Dame because he didn't want to deal with a quarterback controversy (even if he had confidence in his ability to start the season) and moving on to graduate courses at Notre Dame probably wasn't a super fun idea to him. Maybe that's construed as running away, but I totally get it. He's seen ND quarterbacks get booed for trotting out into the huddle. He had struggles with the academics while on campus. I think it's perfectly understandable why a different situation at another school would be appealing for someone his age.

I think calling Golson a quitter is stupid and misses the point. Think about all of the negative things that have been said about him over the past 8 months. People have said he's soft, he's a bad leader, he quit, he's selfish, and on and on. It would have been great if he could have persevered and turned in an amazing 2015 here at ND but I don't begrudge him one bit for wanting to get away from this. Sure, he deserved criticism for his play at times and I doubt he's spent the New Year reading all of the "I'm done with Golson" posts that have popped up everywhere. But he had to sense that his margin for error was going to be razor (and perhaps a little unfairly) thin while playing for Notre Dame this fall. In some ways, I think we're the ones to blame. We're the ones so quick to throw him to the side for Zaire, we're better off now, yada yada yada. A lot of people have expressed shock at how Golson could walk away from such a great team and situation heading into 2015 where he was almost guaranteed to start. Was it really such a great situation for him, though?

Sometimes I forget that Golson's career began in Dublin, Ireland. That'll always be a cool footnote to his time with Notre Dame. That was a real enjoyable game.

Don't sleep on Golson. We basically made it a meme on One Foot Down. A while ago I went back and re-read some of our practice reports from the 2011 and 2012 pre-season. It's funny to see, with hindsight, how Golson was consistently checking off all the boxes you usually see for a young quarterback who is going to eventually grab the starting job. One of my big takeaways was that most of us believed Hendrix would be so much better than he turned out to be--and Golson's primary competition. Oh, how things never work out the way you think.

I think Golson's career as a runner was a disappointment at Notre Dame which is kind of weird to say for someone who--had he played 4 full seasons--would have produced around 2,000 yards and over 30 rushing scores. The biggest thing to me was that he was never comfortable running hard and fast in a straight line. He was very athletic but never had many running back skills. The darting point guard was never able to leave him when he played football.

Our boy ndmspaint featured Everett in 3 drawings over the years and I think they rather succinctly sum up EG's career. At first, we saw this daring artist, this wild child full of so much daring and hope.

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Then we saw a suspended Golson and his mistake that would take him away from the team in 2013, with Rees there to clean up the mess. When he returned he was bigger and better than ever. Just look at that specimen with added muscle--he was going to kill it upon his return. But the face and that expression. How did Paint know what would happen in the end?

His academic suspension probably made this transfer more likely than I thought. Both from the standpoint of "this whole graduating from Notre Dame thing wasn't easy now it's time for grad classes?" to losing out on key leadership building. Think about it. Zaire was there for the entire missed season. For most of the players coming into 2015 Zaire's been around twice as long as Golson. I think without that suspension Golson would have had a chance to come out of his shell as a leader. But leaving and losing that with Zaire's skills was absolutely killer.

I think Golson could play at Texas Tech or West Virginia and throw approximately 94 touchdowns this fall. I thought that this would be the route he'd take once he announced he was leaving. I respect that he's chasing something bigger.

His first game against Navy was pretty modest with a lot of handing the ball off. That first game in Notre Dame Stadium though? The offense was doing him no favors that day. But a record 289 passing yards in a Rock's House debut and this play early on that signaled a future of bananas escapes coupled with nonchalant frozen ropes down field.

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We always talk about how the defense carried the team in 2012. It's true. But Golson jam-packed a ton of big plays into his 2,703 yards of offense and 18 touchdowns. I'd love for someone to find a comparable impact in that range of yardage across the whole country. Kevin McDougal was similar but had nowhere near the big plays. It's one of the shocking aspects to that 1993 team because McDougal only produced 1,626 yards and 11 touchdowns. That was 4 games worth of production for Golson in 2014. How would we view Golson if he started only one season like McDougal? Think about that for a second.

Does everyone recall how many people were convinced Golson wasn't coming back after his suspension? I suppose that's a normal reaction by many fans, especially with the academic process at Notre Dame. Well, he did come back and graduated. He proved a lot of folks wrong on that, at least.

Back in late September, 14 games into Golson's career, he'd thrown 6 interceptions on 414 pass attempts--the best ever ratio for any Notre Dame quarterback. He hadn't even put the ball on the ground yet up to that point in 2014 and the 8 times he did in 2012 half of them came in one game in the rain against Stanford in which he lost 3 fumbles. 10 games later and everyone uses the stupid and tired phrase 'turnover machine' for Golson. To go from best ever turnover-to-pass ratio in school history all the way to turnover machine had to be cruel for EG.

To me, the fumbling problem for EG is a quarter lack of focus, a quarter lack of fundamentals, and half due to Golson's body. Like me, he has wiry forearms that offer little flesh to rest and protect the football on while carrying it. Unlike me though, he's got huge alien hands. Those hands have given him a false sense of comfort and allowed him to move with the ball without protecting it properly.

Fumbles lost are supposed to be a 50/50 proposition and I wonder how things might have been different for Golson if he were a little bit more lucky in this regard. During the NFL Draft process Marcus Mariota was mildly knocked for fumbling too much. Over his 41 career games Mariota put the ball on the turf 27 times. Golson had a higher percentage of fumbles--20 in 24 games--and ended up losing 12 of them, right at the 60% mark. Mariota was lucky to only lose 12 out of his 41 fumbles for 25%. What if Golson only lost 5 fumbles instead of 12?

HIT THESE FOOLS WITH SUPER GOLSON.

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Like most sequels, the second edition of Super Golson wasn't as dramatic as the first but two of something is better than one.

I was thinking about Golson's 20 career interceptions and trying to pick the worst of the bunch. Ironically, it would have to be during the Super Golson game against Pitt in 2012. Golson was beginning to heat up and find his groove, then bam, a heinous pick in the end zone. The thing about hurr durr 'turnover machine Golson' was that I can't think of another 4th quarter interception in a close game. Was there one? Well, I guess technically the Florida State game counts but we won that game right before the pick (get it?) anyway.

A lot has been made about Golson pouting on the football field which I think is pretty absurd given that we're talking about a few instances of 'pouting' and those instances are gleaned from literally seconds of television snippets. Everyone loves to bring up the USC game last fall as an example. Well, Golson sat on the bench for what, like 5 to 8 minutes? It wasn't long before he was back standing on the sideline. And anyway, isn't he allowed to be pissed/disappointed/angry that he was pulled from the game? And don't even get me started about Golson 'ignoring' Kelly after coming off the field. God, we're so dramatic as fans. Even Kelly said every quarterback reacts differently to being cussed out on the sideline and he was fine with Golson's attitude--sometimes they'd talk about it right away and sometimes Golson wanted to go cool off. Why isn't he allowed to be different? I honestly think a huge part to judging Golson's leadership and grit on the field are his eyes. He has these big, dark saucer eyes that don't do him any favors projecting toughness to fans. Look at pictures of him smiling (HEREHEREHERE) and he looks happy enough. But take literally any other picture where he's not smiling (HEREHEREHERE) and you get a completely different picture. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of subtlety to Golson's face. He's either smiling or his resting face looks like he's deep in thought, or trying to process something--and on the football field to fans it comes across as 'scared.'

Golson's 25 straight completions needs to be talked about--falling just one short of the FBS record. There were a lot of screens in there but it was impressive nonetheless. What's funny in a dark way is that Golson's fumbled spike with just over 10 seconds left in the first half allowed the streak to continue instead of stopping at 13 in a row. The streak was also overshadowed by Golson's 2 interceptions and 3 fumbles, 2 of the latter which the team lost including the bungled fake spike. This was the first game of 2014 where Golson lost a turnover and it epitomized the mostly hot but sometimes cold relationship with turnovers he'd experience the rest of the season.

One of the best "how did he do that" moments came from the 2012 Michigan State game when Golson somehow got this third down pass off despite being tackled and being almost completely horizontal to the field.

Golson should be really successful at Florida State and I'd expect he'd beat out Sean Maguire. If he can keep the turnovers down to say, 10 picks and 4 lost fumbles, the Seminoles should win a lot of games. If he isn't forced to be the hero I'd bet he'll keep the turnovers under those numbers. But going to FSU is still a ballsy move that will be packed with a lot of pressure for a program that has gone 39-3 over the last 3 seasons.

Golson isn't the only player in history to catch some tough breaks but for the love of God he caught some bad luck at times over the last half or so of 2014. Take his last two ever turnovers for Notre Dame back in the USC game.

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I mean, WTF?!!? Sure, Golson holds the ball a little too long on the second play--technically ruled a fumble--but the ball could have fallen harmlessly to the ground. Instead, two more turnovers from the 'turnover machine.'

I'm going to miss Golson. Too much whacky stuff like the immediate plays above didn't come close to out-weighing some of the magical moments he was able to perform for the Irish. Maybe he wasn't the best leader, maybe he didn't always mesh perfectly with his coach, and maybe the ending of his Notre Dame career won't be of the fairy tale variety. But damn was it fun to watch him wear the gold helmet.

The two across the field throws to Goodman against MSU and BC. The deep ball to Brown and the program's biggest road win in decades at Oklahoma. Catching fire to come back against Pitt. A National Title appearance. The destruction of Michigan. The memorable game-winning throw against Stanford. The performance in Tallahassee.

So many great memories.

Congratulations on graduating, Everett, and good luck next year and beyond.