Nick Hirschman's decision to leave the Colorado football program Friday will go down as one of the most unusual transfers in the program's history.
Hirschman will transfer from CU to an undisclosed school at the end of the semester despite being tied atop the depth chart at quarterback with possibly the best opportunity of his career to earn the starting job this fall.
Hirschman, who is very popular among his teammates, announced his decision on his Twitter account. CU coach Mike MacIntyre has given him a release from his scholarship to any school other than those in the Pac-12 Conference or any non-conference opponent in 2013 or 2014.
Hirschman, a fourth-year junior with two seasons of playing eligibility remaining, is on schedule to graduate this spring with a degree in communications. Doing so would allow him to transfer without having to sit out next season under NCAA rules.
“Wednesday I decided to move on from CU and continue my graduate education and football career elsewhere,” Hirschman said via Twitter.
He added, “I loved my time here and the relationships I've had with my fellow teammates I wouldn't trade for anything. Part of me will always be a Buff and thank you to Buffnation for all the support.”
Hirschman and fellow junior-to-be Connor Wood were tied atop the depth chart at quarterback at the end of spring ball on Tuesday. MacIntyre confirmed coaches have not established a post-spring depth chart and there was no change in Hirschman's status as a co-starter. Hirschman actually led his team to a win in the spring game over Wood's team after MacIntyre awarded Hirschman's team the final possession and a chance to drive for the winning field goal.
“Nick's a phenomenal young man, a great team player, and I was looking forward to watching him mature this fall and to see how he would do in the battle for starting quarterback job,” MacIntyre said in a press release from the school. “We hate to lose him, but we do wish him the best.”
Hirschman has twice lost quarterback battles in August camp. He was beaten out by Tyler Hansen in 2011 and Jordan Webb last year. Webb transferred to CU last summer after starting for two seasons at Kansas and earning his degree there. Webb suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee this spring and his career could be over if he doesn't receive a sixth season of eligibility from the NCAA.
In the school's press release, Hirschman seemed to indicate some concern about there being no decision on a starter at the end of spring ball.
“I felt at this time that it has been three years, a great three years, but with no decision made at the end of spring ball, it was a personal choice that it was time for me to move on,” Hirschman said.
Hirschman started two games last season and was prevented from starting a third when he suffered a concussion. He played in eight games and completed 55 of 93 passes for 589 yards. He threw two touchdowns and seven interceptions. All of those statistics came in a completely different offensive system than the one he had been practicing in this spring.
MacIntyre and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren each said at different points this spring that they wouldn't be surprised if one or more quarterbacks decided to transfer after the spring. Practices began in March with six quarterbacks sharing equal repetitions in practice. The program is adding a seventh quarterback this summer and has been actively recruiting a junior college quarterback, Nelson Fishback, who could join the program.
Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleRingo