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As Everett Golson departs, the door is open for Gunner Kiel to return to Notre Dame

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Everett Golson (left) and Gunner Kiel (right) (USA Today Sports Images)

As the soap opera that is Notre Dame took another turn Saturday evening, there were two equally stunning developments — starting quarterback Everett Golson was no longer enrolled in school and departed freshman Gunner Kiel could return to campus.

Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown told multiple outlets that Golson had left Notre Dame, but did not provide a reason why. The Chicago Tribune cited two sources saying academic issues may have played a role.

That leaves the Irish reverting back to 2011 and quarterback Tommy Rees, a senior who has a ton of experience, has thrown for more than 4,000 yards and 34 touchdowns, but isn’t the most popular guy with the fanbase.

But there might be a loophole solution to Notre Dame’s problem.

As Yahoo! Sports columnist Pat Forde notes in his column, Kiel, who transferred to Cincinnati earlier this spring, could come back to Notre Dame, win the starting job over Rees and Andrew Hendrix, and end up starting the opening game against Temple on Aug. 31.

Crazy, right?

Well, John Infante, editor of Bylaw Blog, which breaks down NCAA rules and decisions, cited "Bylaw 14.5.5.2.8, the Return to Original Institution Without Participation or With Minimal Participation Exception." That bylaw essentially says there’s a small loophole where a student-athlete can return to his or her original school as long as they don’t participate in a “countable athletic activity.”

"The student transfers to a second four-year collegiate institution, does not compete at the second institution and does not engage in other countable athletically related activities in the involved sport at the second institution beyond a 14-consecutive-day period and returns to the original institution. The 14-consecutive-day period begins with the date on which the student-athlete first engages in any countable athletically related activity (see Bylaw 17.02.1). A student may use this exception even if he or she has an unfulfilled residence requirement at the institution from which he or she is transferring."

Under this rule, Kiel could pack his bag, kiss Tommy Tuberville goodbye and be back on the Notre Dame campus before the sun comes up. Cincinnati could try to block the transfer and deny Notre Dame permission to speak with Kiel, but that would only prohibit Notre Dame from giving Kiel a scholarship for the next season, not prohibit him from playing.

Of course, it’s probably wishful thinking that Kiel would be on the first bus back to South Bend.

When Kiel decided to transfer from Notre Dame, coach Brian Kelly wasn’t thrilled and said he and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin had assured Kiel he would have a chance to compete for playing time both in the spring and in the fall.

"We had kind of created an opportunity for him to compete in the spring," Kelly said back in March. "So maybe a little surprised from that standpoint, because he was actually told he'd be given the opportunity to compete. Sometimes when you don't hear that, you wouldn't be surprised.

"While we are sad when kids don't go through the entire program, we want what's best for them. We are educators as well as coaches."

However, Kiel told NBC Sports he never bonded with Martin and cited that as one of his reasons for leaving.

I respect Coach Kelly a lot and what he does. He’s a fiery coach and he did me well. My quarterbacks coach (Chuck Martin) and I really didn’t have the relationship I wanted, and that was one reason I didn’t like it. I tried to put in the work.

Still, this situation with Notre Dame and Golson has to pose an interesting conundrum for Kiel, one of the nation’s top quarterbacking recruits who spurned both Indiana and LSU to sign with the Irish. Kiel couldn't beat out Golson a year ago and took a redshirt year, but Kelly has shown he doesn’t exactly trust Rees to run the offense full time and Hendrix was in the same boat as Kiel a year ago.

The Notre Dame quarterbacking situation is wide open.

Not sure we’ve ever seen a circumstance like this and Kiel has yet to address the possibility of transferring back. It probably won't happen, still the thought of Kiel being the one to change Notre Dame’s fortune is quite intriguing.

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