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Coaches Must Be Careful About Transfer Quarterbacks

It may be short term gain but long term folly.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Spurrier today confirmed that his team is not in the running for Everett Golson's services:

"We are not pursuing (Everrett Golson)," Spurrier told The State on Wednesday morning. "We are not really in that."

Golson and South Carolina likely wouldn't mentioned in the same sentence if not for the quarterback having come from Myrtle Beach in high school.

It may seem on the surface that Columbia could be a place for Golson to go. The Gamecocks have three quarterbacks battling to replace Dylan Thompson, and while Connor Mitch took the lead by the end of spring practice, Spurrier didn't feel comfortable enough to name a starter. Without a named starter, why not bring in a guy who quarterbacked a team to the national championship game?

Namely, it would send a bad message to those guys battling for the spot. They've already gone through spring practice. If you're the redshirt sophomore Mitch, or redshirt freshman Michael Scarnecchia, it would hurt to know the coach would rather go with a guy who has taken zero snaps in the offense rather than one of them. After all, it's unlikely that Golson would go anywhere without something close to a guarantee that he'd start. We know he's leaving Notre Dame for playing time. No one thinks he'd go somewhere else just to sit the bench.

I know there is question out there about just how valuable Golson is as a free agent. I will point out that his 143.57 passing efficiency from last year is higher than all but four SEC starting quarterbacks, so he'd likely be in the top half of league QBs next fall. That's not nothing. It's higher than Thompson's mark, for instance.

But ultimately, a program really has to be in a win-now mode to go through the risk of demoralizing and maybe even driving to a transfer any of the existing quarterbacks. I see Ole Miss in such a situation, but not South Carolina. Spurrier knows he's not one player away from winning the SEC, so it's not worth it to pursue Golson. FSU's Jimbo Fisher is the only other head coach I know to have commented on Golson, and he handled it well by saying that Golson is welcome if he wants to come but will be promised nothing.

Florida, which Golson reportedly visited yesterday, is also a dicey landing spot. UF has two young quarterbacks, and it'd be a big vote of no confidence for the new coach to go with them through spring practice and then take in someone new. The Gators are also more than one player away from the league crown, and anyway putting a turnover prone quarterback behind an offensive line unit with only three non-freshman is a recipe for disaster anyway. For the second straight season, two Florida quarterback transfers will be starting for other schools. Bringing in Golson might drive one of Will Grier or Treon Harris away and keep that streak going.

Georgia, who Golson reportedly plans to visit, is already the East favorite. At quarterback, it's in a similar situation to South Carolina in that three guys are nominally in the race to replace a one-year starter. It's one thing to ask guys to sit behind a senior who waited his turn like Thompson or Hutson Mason, but it's a different thing entirely to tell them it's their time in spring only to push back their time a season by bringing in Golson.

Golson will end up somewhere, and that coach will have to deal with the locker room consequences. Sometimes senior quarterback transfers can work out, like with Russell Wilson at Wisconsin. Sometimes the experiment explodes in the hangar like with Jeremiah Masoli at Ole Miss. How things with Golson work out will be one of the major storylines of 2015.