Having to hand out a game ball in the seconds after Notre Dame's 20-17 win Saturday over Purdue, I went with Tommy Rees. And I immediately heard from a number of fans who felt that Golson deserved the nod for his more complete performance.
And so with the benefit of time to re-think my decision … I'm still going with Rees.
Sorry, folks, but the reserve quarterback deserves a ton of credit for stepping right in and delivering a game-winning drive for the Irish. No, his numbers -- 3-of 8-for 35 yards, including two spikes -- were not earth shattering. But it is difficult to imagine another college quarterback essentially go snap-less in the preseason, get thrown into a tied game with two minutes left, absorb booing from his fellow classmates and then deliver a win.
Add in the fact that Rees entered the season with 16 more starts than any other quarterback on the roster before losing his job, and, well, most college kids would have every reason to tune out.
Coaches and players talked throughout camp about a teammate who wants to be a coach one day acting as a graduate assistant, helping Golson, Andrew Hendrix and Gunner Kiel with whatever they needed in practice and in the film room. And, of course, hurting his own chances at ever starting again in the process.
“It is awkward,” Golson, Rees’ camp roommate, said in early August. “I have to praise Tommy. I don’t know if I could do that.”
Yes, Golson made great strides in his second start, completing 21 of 31 passes for 289 yards while throwing and rushing for touchdowns. But he can't be the player of the game when he wasn't even thought of as the best option to help the Irish win in the end.