Debate: Would Malik Zaire make UF the SEC East favorite?

(Photo: Illustration by 247Sports, Getty) As we await word on whether Malik Zaire will be allowed to transfer to Florida — a revision of the SEC’s graduate transfer restrictions is on the docket at this week’s conference meetings — it’s time to ask the ultimate question: Does it even matter?

Zaire, the No. 170 player in the class of 2013’s 247Sports Composite, had an interesting career at Notre Dame, involved in a quarterback triangle of Everett Golson and DeShone Kizer that spanned two seasons and saw early attrition (transfer for Golson, NFL Draft) for the lot of them. Zaire was excellent in his first career start versus LSU in the 2014 Music City Bowl, then opened the 2015 season by thumping Texas (313 yards passing on 19 of 22). But he was lost for the season in Game 2 versus Virginia and lost the 2016 quarterback battle to Kizer.

Now he would like to land in Gainesville. The Gators have made two straight trips to the SEC Championship, and have the pieces to make that possible again — and they have a young, promising redshirt freshman at quarterback in Feleipe Franks, who was a four-star recruit. Florida currently has the second-best odds to win the SEC East, behind Georgia. Would Zaire swing their odds, and their fortune? Our experts debate."

Barton Simmons , CFB Insider: "There’s a lot of hand-wringing about where Malik Zaire will play his college football next year. If he winds up at Florida, though, it’s much ado about nothing. Florida has a starting quarterback on its roster. His name is Feleipe Franks . Why are we all deciding that Zaire is a better option for Florida than Franks? Has there ever been a more heavily hyped player with 800 career passing yards in three seasons? Zaire is a talented quarterback but he’s no program-changer and Florida is going to be Florida with or without him."

Chris Hummer , CFB Writer: "But isn’t there something to be said in bringing in an experienced hand to push the redshirt freshman who’s yet to even take a college snap? There’s no telling if Zaire will indeed overtake Franks for the starting job — he would need to learn the playbook in three months — but he might, and his experience would be a boon to Florida in 2017. Zaire hasn’t had sustained success in college, but that’s more due to injury and quality of competition than anything. Is he Russell Wilson coming to Wisconsin for a year? No. But is he better than Austin Appleby from last season? Certainly. If Zaire could beat out Franks, it’d be a plus for the Gators in the short and long term. And even if he doesn’t, the competition will have helped Franks."

Simmons: "There’s no doubt that it helps having one more experienced arm in the quarterback room, whether he’s a starter or not. I just don’t think that a Zaire transfer affects Florida’s win total. I also disagree with you that Zaire […]