Ralph D. Russo, ASSOCIATED PRESS
(AP) — Florida State? Interested. South Carolina? Not interested. Florida? Happy to be mentioned. Georgia? Well, the Bulldogs would rather not say.
Everett Golson has become a popular man in the southeast since he announced last week he is transferring from Notre Dame.
The talented quarterback who would be immediately eligible to play seems like a perfect fit for a bunch of teams in the Deep South, but Southeastern Conference restrictions on graduate transfer could go a long way toward helping Golson make his choice.
And if college sports leaders get their way, this type of college football free agency will soon be a thing of the past.
Golson, who is from South Carolina, began his swing through the south earlier this week in Tallahassee, Florida. Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said he met with Golson on Monday. Fisher made it clear if Golson wants in on the competition to replace Jameis Winston, the Seminoles of the Atlantic Coast Conference would probably accommodate him.
Media reports had Golson in Gainesville, Florida, to see the Gators on Tuesday. New Florida coach Jim McElwain was not quite as forthcoming about getting together with Golson.
“Per NCAA rules, he’s a prospective student-athlete, so I can’t really comment on that part,” McElwain said Wednesday during the SEC spring wrap-up teleconference. “The one thing that we are doing, however, and it’s irregardless of whatever position it is, we’re always looking to help the organization fill holes where needed. Obviously, him mentioning us is something that’s exciting and at the same time, we’re doing it at a lot of different spots.”
Golson actually has not mentioned anything publicly about where he might want to transfer. And that part about the NCAA rules is not entirely true, either. Speaking publicly about Golson is not necessarily a violation. As long as Notre Dame gave permission for Golson and a school to have contact, then the coach is free to announce it to the world.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has said the Fighting Irish are not blocking Golson from transferring to any of the schools the quarterback identified as places he would like to go. Swarbrick has declined to name those schools, but it wouldn’t be surprising if a few of Florida’s SEC rival are also on that list.
Georgia was reportedly next on Golson’s visit list, though Bulldogs coach Mark Richt took the McElwain approach Wednesday and declined to confirm any contact with Golson.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was not so shy. The Ball Coach told The State.com in Columbia the Gamecocks were not in on Golson.
It might be just as well. A unique SEC rule regarding grad transfers, who are allowed to switch schools without sitting out a season as usually required by the NCAA, could keep Golson out of the conference.
The SEC banned its schools from accepting graduate transfers in 2011 after Mississippi accepted quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who had been dismissed from Oregon’s team.
The SEC lifted the ban last year, but with restrictions that prohibited institutions from accepting players who had significant disciplinary or eligibility issues at their previous schools. The idea behind the bylaw was to keep players from running away from trouble to the SEC.
That’s not the case with Golson, but he did miss the 2013 season at Notre Dame while serving a suspension for an academic violation. An SEC school could request a waiver from the commissioner for Golson to play.
No other conference has a similar rule. Several SEC coaches said they didn’t think the rule puts the conference at a disadvantage, but Spurrier added: “As coaches we all wish we had the same rules as other conferences. I just wish we all had the same rules.”
Earlier this year, Oregon landed a possible replacement for Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota in Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams via the graduate transfer rule.
But soon the market might be closing altogether.
Conference commissioners and athletic directors all over the country have said they would like to change the rule that was first put in place to allow students to pursue graduate degrees not offered by their current schools.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby has said the grad transfer rule “smacks of hired gun.”
“I don’t think it fits into the core values of intercollegiate athletics,” Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson said.
Coaches tend to be more open-minded.
“It gives them an opportunity educationally to get involved in a degree program that might be more beneficial to them,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “It may help them from a career development standpoint to play, whether it’s in a different style of offense or defense, or have an opportunity to get more exposure because of playing time.”
Saban’s team could probably use Golson, too.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP.
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