Confidence issues kept Everett Golson from regaining control at ND
Going into a football game without confidence is like heading into a tax audit while represented by a sports writer.
In either case, odds are it ain’t gonna turn out well.
Everett Golson played 25 games at quarterback for Notre Dame, and continually wrestled with establishing his ownership of the position.
Golson’s well-documented Irish soap opera had a strange — almost awkward — ending last week.
From the high of a 2012 victory at Oklahoma; to the low of an undressing in front of the world by Alabama; to the embarrassment of being academically exiled from school for a season; to the determined preparation for a comeback under QB guru George Whitfield; to the frustration of a 2014 campaign that included 22 turnovers (anybody else wonder if whoever paid for his time with Whitfield got their money back after that season?); to the embarrassment (again) of being deposed as starter by Malik Zaire; to the resolution that it’s just not going to work anymore in South Bend.
Golson had run the gamut. And then some.
The common thread through those ups and downs is confidence.
Through the second half of last season, while the blunders were piling up and the losses kept coming, Irish coach Brian Kelly remained constant with an incredulous smirk when the media would continually ask if he considered turning to Zaire.
Kelly did his best to try to manufacture confidence. However, there’s that old saying: The only thing worse than no confidence is false confidence.
It wasn’t until an atrocious first-half effort against Southern Cal (7 of 18 passing, 75 yards, one interception, one fumble — the Irish trailed, 35-0) that Kelly finally pulled the plug on Golson. By then, he was done.
Whether it was the lingering impact from a shoulder injury a couple weeks earlier, or the culmination of a long, bad regular season that ended with the Irish losing five of their last six, Golson looked whipped. He was nowhere near the guy who played with such bravado against the Sooners.
One of the enduring snapshots that put the situation in perspective happened in the tunnel of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum less than an hour after the worst loss in Kelly’s five years at Notre Dame. Golson was nowhere to be found by the media. Zaire was the center of attention and handled it like a pro.
Once finished, Zaire flashed a smile. He knew. So what the Irish had a long flight ahead of them, while chewing on such a terrible performance. The job was his now. Golson was toast.
Golson spent the final six months of his time as a student-athlete at Notre Dame without being made available to the media — almost unheard of these days for a veteran quarterback. The last time Golson spoke was immediately after the Louisville loss, Nov. 22. Prior to that, he never had a problem publicly facing tough situations before.
The day before the Music City Bowl win over LSU, Kelly finally said what everyone had been thinking.
"This game is not just a physical game," Kelly said. "Other things have to come with it, especially when you're talking about the quarterback position. There has to be a level of trust and confidence. At times, maybe (Golson) lost a little bit of that."
A little? He shared time with Zaire in the bowl, but Zaire was voted MVP. This spring, in the glimpses the media got, Golson was just “a guy.” Golson's body language suggested he had checked out before he had made it official.
That leader with a strut had vanished. That presence that lit up the interview room in Oklahoma wasn’t even a distant memory anymore. It was gone.
Golson’s departure this time hardly caused the fan furor that was ignited in May, 2013, when his dismissal stunned ND Nation. Lose Jaylon Smith or Nick Martin or Tarean Folston or Sheldon Day — now that’d be significant.
But Golson? Eh (shrug). OK, good luck trying to improve on 22 turnovers in a new system while getting to know new personnel at a new school.
If he thought confidence was hard to come by here …