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December 22, 2011
Crist closes 'bittersweet' chapter
For the past few months, Dayne Crist knew he wouldn't return to Notre Dame next season. Now the former Irish quarterback knows where he's headed, deciding to follow Charlie Weis to Kansas.
"It was a very tough decision," Crist said. "I didn't make the decision until this morning, truthfully. I was close last night, but I kind of wanted to sleep on things, make sure I was confident in what I was doing.
"I'm 100 percent all in with my decision."
After asking Brian Kelly for his release earlier this month, Crist considered Kansas, Wisconsin and Delaware, visiting all three programs. He said the decision came down to the Jayhawks and Badgers, which just lost offensive coordinator Paul Chryst to Pittsburgh. Familiarity with Weis' offense helped settle Crist on Kansas, as did the opportunity to start next season.
"I wanted to make sure I had full understanding of both programs, the players, the coaches, everything that goes into it," Crist said. "I just felt Kansas was the best fit and embodied the things I was looking for. I'm just thrilled to have this opportunity."
Crist saw no opportunity at Notre Dame following his halftime benching in the season-opening loss to South Florida. That led him to begin looking for alternatives during the season, even reaching out to Weis, then offensive coordinator at Florida. Crist said Weis suggested Wisconsin as a possible fit.
"I think it was pretty apparent early this season that there wasn't an opportunity for me to play any more," Crist said. "My days at Notre Dame playing football were basically over. That being said, I love this game more than anything. I wanted to do anything I could to continue playing."
After Weis accepted the head coaching position at Kansas, Crist visited Lawrence a day later. He hosted Weis on an in-home visit in South Bend last week.
Crist said he'll enroll at Kansas next semester, arriving in Lawrence before his Jan. 15 report date.
"Coach Weis has always been so incredible with all the guys that he had," Crist said. "He really cares about his players. It's nice to know that he was always there for us no matter what. Especially with me, he's always been incredibly supportive."
While Crist's Notre Dame career didn't go as planned, he said that didn't change his perspective on his experience in South Bend. Crist finished with 2,327 yards passing, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He went 4-6 as a starting quarterback.
"It's definitely bittersweet in the situation that I'm in," Crist said. "But truthfully I have so much love for Notre Dame. There's no place like Notre Dame and it will always hold a special place in my heart.
"I'm excited to take my kids back there and share those experiences with them as well. For as many negatives as there were, there were so many more positive ones."
Crist graduated from Notre Dame this month with a degree in Management-Consulting. He plans to return to South Bend in May to walk in graduation ceremonies with the rest of his class.