Clarity coming this week on Florida Gators, Malik Zaire
DESTIN -- After months of speculation, we could finally get some clarity this week on the Florida Gators and graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire.
Maybe as soon as today, when the SEC spring meetings begin at the Sandestin Beach Hilton. I'm here, hunkered in a windowless room, to update you along the way. But first, a refresher on what meeting rooms at a spacious hotel in the Panhandle have to do with a former quarterback at Notre Dame.
The SEC's current rulebook (18.104.22.168 (b), if you're scoring at home) prevents programs from taking a grad transfer for three years if the last one failed to make adequate academic progress. The idea was to prevent future instances like Jeremiah Masoli, who left Ole Miss after one semester. The problem is that no other conference added a similar rule, so the SEC is at a competitive disadvantage.
Specifically, UF is. Offensive lineman Mason Halter and linebacker Anthony Harrell both missed the Citrus Bowl after coach Jim McElwain's first season because of academics. That means the Gators can't take a grad transfer - Zaire or otherwise.
Unless the SEC changes its rule this week when the league's coaches, athletic directors and powerbrokers meet.
If that happens, Zaire could be headed to UF, potentially as the Gators' starter for the Sept. 2 season opener against Michigan. Coach Jim McElwain hasn't downplayed the possibility of adding Zaire during media sessions before his spring speaking events, although he continues to praise his current options (Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and, yes, Luke Del Rio).
I have been led to believe that Zaire is very interested in UF. The simple fact that he hasn't yet announced his decision to go somewhere else - Texas? Wisconsin? - helps the Gators' cause. There were rumblings over the weekend that Zaire is telling people he's going to UF. That, obviously, is premature. It doesn't matter what he tells people until the SEC rulebook changes.
So stay tuned. In the meantime, you might want to revisit my FAQ on Zaire and the Gators from earlier this spring.