- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Ask Chuck Martin a simple yes-or-no question and you'll get five good minutes with a handful of one-liners to boot. The Notre Dame offensive coordinator has a way with words and just a touch of sarcasm, making conversation over the simplest of topics.
His unfailing honesty showed during Thursday's media day, when the topic of conversation switched to the quarterback who won't be near Notre Dame Stadium until at least 2014.
So, was Everett Golson's position coach frustrated with his pupil getting hit with a semester ban from school for academic misconduct after everything he and the rest of the program put into the 20-year-old this past year?
"Not at all," Martin said. "I'm just not wired that way. You can ask other people around: The first thing I thought is, this could be a great thing, [though] not a short-term great thing for Everett. I wasn't worried. I thought we had other capable quarterbacks. I'm like, we'll figure out a way to get somebody else ready to play. Tommy [Rees] is capable.
"I just think you make your biggest gains in the world sometimes when you don't make your best decision. When everything's going great we all learn from the things that go well. But we learn the most, and I've been coaching college kids for a long time, and I see a lot of kids that did something that they wish they hadn't done, and they look back on it 10 years later and really say, 'Hey, look, at the time I thought it was awful but it has really helped me really springboard into what I'm capable of doing,' and I'm hoping that’s the case with [Golson]. Time will only tell. As I've told him, the story's not finished: You're going to write the end of the story; no one else is.
"Everybody can guess how you're going to be when you're 30, but you may look back when you're 30 and say, 'Thank God that happened to me at that point in my life, when I can really learn and grow from it.' So that's how I always approach it. It doesn't always end happy like that; sometimes kids keep doing things that they maybe regret and that's just who they become. But I've seen a lot of kids do something they wish they had back but it was a defining moment in their life, and they said, 'Never again. I'm going to cherish what I have because all of a sudden I didn't have it for a little bit in the prime of my life.' "
Irish head coach Brian Kelly said that Golson, currently training in Chicago, will spend roughly two months in San Diego working with quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr.
"Most of it is having the right training partners, receivers and having somebody that can film him and obviously spend time on his footwork and physical development and keeping him sharp," Kelly said. "So he's going to spend some time out there, I think that's during most of the inclement weather time, then he'll be back in the Midwest probably around Thanksgiving and then settle back here in Notre Dame around the holidays."
Golson was advised that he did not need to take classes before returning to Notre Dame. Should Golson be re-admitted to the school as a student, he will return to the team as well.
And Martin thinks he will be able to trust the signal caller even more than before.
"I'd like to think he's grown from that situation," Martin said. "You don't know, but we're pretty blindly faithful as coaches: We assume we're going to get the best. I get the bigger picture things, I get that, but the biggest thing for me is, we always talk about we're teachers and we're mentors, but I know that doesn't keep our job -- 12-1 keeps your job, 6-6 gets you fired. I get that. We work very hard not to go 6-6.
"But the other part that we got into this for is to help these kids grow up and become better and that's part of it. They have bad days in practice, they get better. They have bad days socially, they get better. They have bad days academically, they get better. They've got to learn from those, or they never get better."
Martin called the public shaming punishment enough, especially after a perfect regular-season run that Golson led.
"What could we do to pile on?" Martin said. "What Tommy went through last summer, what any kid goes through when they make a mistake, we can't pile on any harder. It's national news, you know?"
Be it society, today's media culture or a little bit of both, the faux-rage that stems from mistakes made by 18-22-year olds is a bit perplexing to Martin, who reasoned that college players deal with the same social and academic pitfalls as any other student once they take their helmets off and escape the field.
"These kids, they have no idea," Martin said. "They don't grasp the magnitude of who they are. … That's why these kids Twitter and Facebook things; they don't get it -- that the whole world's listening to them -- or even care about it, because we put them on this pedestal because they play football at Notre Dame or USC or Alabama or anything like that. But they view themselves as kids, they understand they're good football players, they don't get why there's all these people Googling over every move they make.
"Tommy Rees woke up at 3 in the morning, had the sniffles' -- if he Twittered that it would be big news. They still view themselves as just college students, but we don't because they put the gold helmet on and they play, and they have some gifts that the rest of us didn't have. But other than that, the rest of their life is -- you know what I mean? 'He runs 4.3 and jumps 45-inch verticals.' That doesn't necessarily translate into figuring out the world. Most teenage kids don't and you get in situations and you make a split-second decision and you don't get it back. Unfortunately here, then it comes on the ticker."
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