So now quarterback is question mark for the Irish and Golson’s future with Notre Dame is uncertain.
One thing is clear: The good feelings in South Bend produced by the best Notre Dame football season in more than two decades have been muted by everything that has come after 12-0.
It started with an embarrassing 42-14 loss against Alabama in the BCS title game, when the Crimson Tide scored on their first three possessions and jumped to a 35-0 lead.
That was quickly followed by news Kelly had interviewed for the vacant Philadelphia Eagles job the day after the BCS game.
Then the bizarre.
Part Manti Te’o’s inspirational story turned out to be the result of an elaborate hoax. The dead girlfriend that supposedly inspired throughout his Heisman Trophy run did not exist. He had been duped and embarrassed.
Since then, it’s been a series of smaller setbacks.
In March, Kelly announced Gunner Kiel, one of the top-rated quarterbacks coming out of high school a year ago, was leaving before even trying to challenge Golson for the starter’s job during spring practice. Kiel transferred to Cincinnati.
NCAA rules would permit Kiel to return, but texted “I’m a Bearcat” to The (Cincinnati) Enquirer.
Then came reports that standout defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes from Auburn, Calif., a five-star recruit who signed a letter of intent in February with Notre Dame, was having second thoughts about playing for the Irish.
Though none of those problems will affect the Irish this season like not having Golson.