Notre Dame graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire and Florida are reported to have mutual interest. DESTIN — Former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire could have another potential landing spot by the end of the week.
The Southeastern Conference is expected to ease graduate transfer rules during its annual spring meetings, clearing the way for Zaire to potentially end up at Florida.
Several coaches and Commissioner Greg Sankey said Tuesday they expect the SEC will tweak its policy, which penalizes teams if graduate transfers fail to meet academic standards during their time on campus. No other Power Five conference has a similarly restrictive clause.
“I don’t think we should penalize ourselves as a league and allow people to transfer other places, but they can’t transfer to our league,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “So if there’s some balance we can come up with on that, that’s what I would be for.“
Added South Carolina coach Will Muschamp: “I think we need to have the same rule as everybody else in college football. … It is a little bit unfair for us as a league to have a different set of rules than the competition at other places.“
The Gators are currently unable to add Zaire because two previous graduate transfers — linebacker Anthony Harrell and offensive lineman Mason Halter — failed to meet academic requirements after transferring to Florida in 2016. That put coach Jim McElwain’s program on probation, unable to add another graduate transfer for a three-year period.
The SEC is proposing to change the rule to a one-year ban, which still would be more than other Power Five conferences.
“If we have rules in the Southeastern Conference that are different than the other conferences that we’re playing against and competing against … I don’t know what we’re trying to prove there,” McElwain said.
Zaire has reportedly chosen Florida over Texas and Harvard. He delayed an announcement earlier this month, assumedly to see if the Gators would become an option. For that to happen, the SEC would have to relax its policy.
Coaches discussed the issue Tuesday, and school presidents and chancellors are expected to vote on proposed rules changes Friday.
If Zaire lands in Gainesville, he would compete for the starting job with redshirt freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask as well as Luke Del Rio, who started six games last season. Zaire had 816 passing yards and six touchdowns in limited action in three seasons in South Bend, Indiana.
“Competition is what breeds quality,” McElwain said. “So whether it’s that one or whatever one, I’m kind of all for it. I was the guy they always tried to replace every year at Eastern Washington, so I get it.“
Saban would like to see another change to the league’s graduate transfer rules.The SEC allows players to transfer from one conference team to another and be eligible immediately but only with a waiver, like Alabama defensive back Maurice Smith did last year. Smith wanted to transfer to Georgia, but Saban initially blocked the move. The SEC ultimately ruled Smith should be […]