<
>

Crist reportedly leaving ND; timing fitting

Russell Wilson's Grange-Griffin Trophy was less than two hours old by the time news broke of Dayne Crist's reported exit from Notre Dame.

The parallels, of course, are obvious.

Wilson, who won the Big Ten title game MVP Saturday night, starred in his lone season in a Wisconsin uniform, leading the Badgers to their second consecutive Rose Bowl one year after he was taking snaps for North Carolina State.

He was able to do this, of course, because of a rule that allows players who have already graduated and have one year of eligibility remaining to transfer to another school and play immediately, provided that the player enrolls in a graduate program not offered at his previous school.

Crist will get the same chance at any school that will have him, as the Irish senior is set to graduate this month and will likely enroll at a new school for spring semester.

The rule -- or loophole, as some have referred to it as -- has been the subject of much scrutiny. The SEC banned such one-year transfers this past summer. Many feel this is the equivalent to "renting" players and takes the "student" out of student-athlete.

Wrong. It might be the only rule in the NCAA manual that actually rewards the "student" part of that term.

Players are told all the time what they cannot do. Coaches who make millions often jump from job to job without consequence. Here, players are simply rewarded for fulfilling their academic duties.

Crist, from what we have seen so far, is no Wilson. It would be unreasonable at this point to think he would be the difference between a good team and a Rose Bowl-bound one, permitting he even ends up on a good team.

Wilson threw for 8,545 yards, rushed for another 1,089 and had a total of 93 touchdowns in his three years with the Wolfpack. In three years with the Irish, Crist has just 2,327 passing yards, 74 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns.

Crist's most notable stats won't even show up in the box score. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in 2009, ruptured the patella tendon in his left knee nearly one year later and then lost his starting job after one mediocre half against South Florida in Week 1 of this season.

Though unavailable to reporters since the Week 1 loss, Crist has, by all accounts, handled the bad breaks with class and dignity. And, as mentioned earlier, he is scheduled to graduate later this month, with a degree in management-consulting.

Having redshirted his freshman year, Crist still has one year of eligibility remaining. And, with a lofty high school ranking (he entered college as ESPNU's 22nd overall prospect and No. 2 quarterback) and not a lot to show for it yet in college, he deserves the chance to showcase his talents for the next level. That just isn't going to happen at Notre Dame, where a pair of sophomores (Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix) have already moved ahead of him on the depth chart and where a freshman (Everett Golson) is currently redshirting in hopes of bright days ahead.

What good does it do Crist to sit his final year, his degree already in hand? His perseverance through a pair of potentially devastating knee injuries shows he wants to play, and he deserves that chance.

If he can get that opportunity somewhere else while earning another degree and, who knows, maybe a little bit of hardware for himself in the process, then — dare we say it? — more power to him, the student-athlete.