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Notre Dame's Golson might not win starting quarterback role

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The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have what could be the most interesting starting quarterback competition in all of college football.

On one hand, they have senior Everett Golson, a solid signal-caller who led the Fighting Irish to the 2012 BCS National Championship game. 

On the other side, there is sophomore Malik Zaire, who did not play a single contest during his freshman year last season.

Sounds like an easy decision, right?

Apparently not, according to head coach Brian Kelly, who told the Post-Tribune that his mind was far from made up on who should take the reins of the Fighting Irish offense in the fall.

"I'll make the call when it's clear," Kelly said.

"I think in an ideal world, I think every coach would want one quarterback that has clearly demonstrated a consistency, great leadership and the ability to take you to a championship."

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A championship pedigree

Going off that list of traits, it would seem like Golson would be an easy choice.

The 6-foot, 200-pound quarterback burst into the college football scene by starting 11 games for the Fighting Irish. He had 10 straight wins to open his starting career, for the second-best total in school history.

Golson threw for 2,405 yards with 12 touchdowns to only six interceptions.

But most importantly, Golson showed what Kelly wanted: the ability to be consistent and take the team "to a championship."

As a sophomore, Golson led upsets against Michigan State (20-3), Michigan (13-6), Stanford (20-13), Oklahoma (30-13) and USC (22-13).

Zaire, meanwhile, is unknown as a college player.

He did not take a single snap last season.

And while he was ranked third on Rivals.com's list of dual-threat quarterbacks when he came out of high school, he was still only placed as the 122nd-best player in the nation.

Problems for Golson

Still, some of Golson's past mistakes may be causing Kelly's indecision.

While Golson did play well in Notre Dame's championship run, his team fell short to Alabama in an ego-bruising 42-14 blowout.

The defense was mostly at fault in that game, but it didn't help that Golson threw one bad interception and only completed 21 of his 36 passes (a 58 percent completion rate).

Most of all, though, Golson might be punished for the fact that he missed all of last season due to a suspension.

He was banned from playing due to violating the Notre Dame honor code. Some have speculated that he cheated in a test situation, based on a video interview with Sports Illustrated.

To give Golson credit, he could have transferred to a JUCO school, played a year and then transferred to another high-profile program, like many star athletes have done before him.

Instead, he decided to stick it out and return to the school which suspended him.

That decision was honorable.

But if Golson does end up losing the starting job to an anonymous player like Zaire, expect some serious regret from the former Championship-caliber quarterback.

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