So, remember last August, when Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly had two seasoned quarterbacks to choose from and the season that lay ahead held such shining promise?
Seems like only yesterday, right?
OK, so it doesn't. Actually, it seems like eons ago, like so long ago Knute Rockne was still playing end for the Fighting Irish and World War I hadn't even kicked off yet, and the big game every year was still Army.
Between August and now, after all, some stuff happened, very little of it good. The Irish won all of four football games, losing to basketball schools (Duke) and Hokies (Virginia Tech) and even hurricanes (North Carolina State). Boos were heard in Notre Dame Stadium as leads evaporated and crisp autumn afternoons gave way to crisper autumn evenings. Kelly fired his defensive coordinator and, as is his habit, allowed the wheels of the bus to go 'round and 'round over various other scapegoats.
And the quarterbacks?
One, Malik Zaire, announced he was leaving Notre Dame for presumably greener pastures.
Ditto the other quarterback, DeShone Kizer, who announced he was declaring for the NFL Draft even if a lot of the standard draft gurus think he'd be better off staying for one more year.
That Kizer is fleeing South Bend anyway speaks volumes about the state of things there right now, which could be charitably described as unsettled. The Domers are unhappy with where the program is, and where they perceive it to be headed under Kelly. If he will survive the 4-8 disaster that was 2016, it can hardly be counted as much of a victory. The ice beneath his feet is still wafer thin, which suggests further turmoil ahead.
You get a sense that one more arrest of one of his players, on top of all the other arrests of his players that have happened on his watch, might be enough to topple him. At the very least, there's an uncertainty around the program now that convinced both his seasoned quarterbacks it was time to leave.
Kizer in particular is a telling case. He's got some nice numbers, accrued almost entirely over the last 23 games, all of which he's started: 5,809 yards passing, 47 touchdowns, 992 rushing yards and 18 more scores. That's 65 touchdowns he's been responsible for in just 23 games.
He also has the kind of prototypical size (6-4, 230 pounds) NFL teams seem to favor. What he doesn't have is the sort of sample size NFL teams seem to favor -- although one team in particular has reportedly done some extensive scouting work on Kizer.
That team is the Cleveland Browns.
Who, as of Sunday, are 0-13 and undisputedly the worst franchise in professional football.
Yet DeShone Kizer, apparently, would choose the Brownies over Notre Dame right now.
Now there's a ringing endorsement for you. Not.