Notre Dame just got worse for Pac-12 troika

May, 28, 2013
5/28/13
12:30
PM ET
There should be no joy when a college football player shows "poor academic judgment," as Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson described his turn of misfortune, thereby earning a suspension that ended his 2013 season before it began.

So stop smiling, particularly you guys in Tempe, Los Angeles and Palo Alto.

Seriously, that's not terribly charitable.

In any event, Golson's academic pratfall dramatically changes the complexion of the three Pac-12 games with Notre Dame this season: Arizona State in Cowboys Stadium on Oct. 5, USC on Oct. 19 and at Stanford on November 30.

While Golson was inconsistent as a redshirt freshman starter last fall, he still was good enough to lead his team to an undefeated season and a berth in the national title game. Word this spring was he looked more in command and greatly improved, which makes sense for a second-year starter. It's not unreasonable to believe the big-armed, speedy dual-threat QB would have been more of a dual threat this fall, perhaps significantly more, a guy who well fit what coach Brian Kelly wants to do on offense.

There is no way to sugarcoat it: Notre Dame just got worse. And that benefits the Irish's opponents.

With Golson back, one could overlook obvious issues for an offense that only finished 78th in the nation in scoring last year. Now, not so much. As ESPN.com's Matt Fortuna pointed out, this offense "features two new starting linemen, is down its top two running backs from last year, and has no sure answer to replace record-setter Tyler Eifert at tight end."

So the Irish are going to -- again -- lean heavily on their defense. Arizona State, USC and Stanford each have offenses that, at least in terms of potential, can more than match up with what should again be a good Notre Dame defense. And all three should have an advantage when their defense squares up with the new-look Irish offense, particularly Stanford.

With Golson gone, the most obvious answer is experienced senior Tommy Rees. He has 18 career starts and has played well at times, but he's far from big armed and he doesn't have the running ability Golson has. Life gets much easier for a defense when the opposing QB isn't a substantial run threat.

While it's unseemly to leap into the air and click your heels together over a foe's misfortune, it is fair to say that Todd Graham, Lane Kiffin and David Shaw didn't have their Memorial Day weekend ruined by this news.

Ted Miller | email

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