Malik Zaire has announced his transfer landing spot and it appears that the soon to be former Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback will end up at Florida. The Gators made a strong push from the beginning to land Zaire, presumably thinking that the graduate transfer (and therefore immediately eligible) former starter in South Bend is an upgrade on anything they currently have on the roster for 2017.
Here though are three reasons why bringing Zaire into the swamp (assuming he is to start at quarterback) is a bad decision:
It proves that the SEC rules mean nothing
The main hold up on the transfer was a SEC rule regarding academics for graduate transfers. The rule stated that a team bringing in a player of that type who failed to complete their academic requirements at the new school would be barred from adding more grad transfers for three years. Florida was unable to add Zaire because they were under a penalty from this rule.
Suddenly though, the league has rethought this rule. Now the penalty is a one year ban for incoming transfers. Conveniently Florida gets a pass on this as their academic issues were two years ago. It is just another example of money talking and the league bending to suit the programs as and when they need to.
What does this do to the quarterbacks on the roster?
This is not like the Jarrett Stidham situation at Auburn. The Tigers brought Stidham in before spring ball, giving him a shot to run with his new teammates and compete against the other quarterbacks he was battling for the starting spot. Also, Stidham was a monster at Baylor and few had any doubt he would make the transition quickly into the Auburn passing attack.
Zaire is an outstanding athlete, probably one of the 10 best in the country, but he is not a great quarterback. There is a reason he didn’t start for Notre Dame in 2016 and that head coach Brian Kelly went with DeShone Kizer instead. If Zaire is thrown onto the field too soon (remember he likely has only one year of eligibility remaining), then it will upset the balance with the other quarterbacks on the roster. Watch for transfers out of the program to offset the one coming in.
Florida isn’t good enough to win the SEC in 2017
The reason you sell out on a transfer like this is to push you over the edge. You do it when you are loaded across the board and you have one weakness that can be massively upgraded by the player available. It is hard to put the 2017 Florida Gators into that category of a team.
The Gators generally do a good job of reloading, but they lost seven starters from their 2016 defense to the NFL. Replacing that group of talented and experienced players will be a massive undertaking. The last time this many quality players departed Florida, the Gators could only muster a 9-4 season even as Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy.
Malik Zaire is no Tim Tebow.