Is Masoli ready for the SEC Spotlight?
After a year long suspension followed by his dismissal from Oregon, Jeremiah Masoli may be quarterback for an SEC school this fall.
A coach is judged on wins and losses, college football can be very simple at times but when something seems clear cut black and white…shades of gray tend to enter in. Ole Miss is debating whether or not to allow Jeremiah Masoli entrance into their University and the football team. Masoli was a breakout star last season with Oregon and before the Rose Bowl he was a serious Heisman candidate in 2010. Not too far removed from Oregon's Bowl loss to Ohio State, Masoli was suspended for the season and subsequently kicked off the team a couple months later.
The year long suspension was for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor burglary charge. Masoli was not kicked off the team; he was suspended for the season where if he had met specific requirements set by Oregon Coach Chip Kelly he could have returned in 2011 to compete for the starting job. The opportunity for a second chance and redemption was available for Masoli if he wanted it. Masoli did not. He was kicked off the team in June after a citation for marijuana possession and his time in Eugene was over.
Since Masoli completed his undergraduate degree at Oregon he is able to transfer to another school offering a graduate program not available at the University of Oregon making him eligible to play football in the fall. This is where the gray comes in for Ole Miss. Can a player like Jeremiah Masoli help your program win football games…the answer is likely yes. Should you allow Jeremiah Masoli to be a part of your football program…that answer is no.
The black and white answer is that Masoli could help the Ole Miss program win games this fall, the gray question is do you take a player who has legal troubles and failed when given a second chance into your program. Ole Miss fans are likely going to defend his enrollment into their school with delusions of giving him a second chance. This argument would hold water if it wasn't for the fact that after pleading guilty to burglary, Masoli got arrested again for drugs possession.
Would this be considered a third chance for the young quarterback or just a second one since the arrests occurred at the same school and he needed a change of scenery? It really doesn't matter what number he is on because the risk in bringing him into your program is not worth the reward. Adding him to the Ole Miss roster is a black eye on the program and another example of the SEC's win at any cost mentality. This isn't some high school kid who made a mistake and needed to start over. This isn't a Cameron Newton situation where he made a mistake, paid his dues in the JUCO ranks and earned his way back to a BCS program.
Masoli would have gone from year long suspension due to an arrest, a second arrest resulting in expulsion from Oregon to a roster spot in an SEC program at Ole Miss. Did he learn his lesson in the last six weeks? Has he moved on as a person and a member of our society by lucking out and switching area codes? The message this would send is that the SEC is willing to accept the players that other conferences don't deem acceptable for their schools. Oregon won't have a player like Masoli on their team or at their school but Ole Miss will.
The weird part of this entire situation is that Houston Nutt is not in a position that he needs Masoli. Of course every coach needs to win games (black and white) but he has built up quite a bit of currency with the Ole Miss fans after two straight nine win seasons and two Cotton Bowl victories. He lost a lot of his offense from last year's team and most rational fans would expect a rebuilding year in 2010 with eyes on picking it right back up in 2011. After Raymond Cotton left the program last week the Rebels need depth at quarterback, but Masoli is not depth…he would be a hired gun to start.
Nathan Stanley has gone through a spring practice; he played a little bit last season as a back up and should be given the opportunity to go through a full season as a starter so he is ready for 2011. Taking that away from him and risking the season on a player who doesn't look like he has learned his lesson could be a much bigger risk than the reward he offers. Masoli has experience starting in against BCS opponents but what happens if he makes another mistake in November? What happens if Ole Miss wins 6 games with him, he leaves at the end of the year and Stanley is the starter next year with no starting experience? This decision could make a one year rebuilding process stretch out for two.
Ole Miss has been down this road before, taking on quarterbacks with questionable pasts to come in and solidify the position. It was under the previous coaching staff, but pretty much every Rebel fan remembers Brent Schaeffer. Schaeffer left Tennessee after a fight in a dorm followed by a suspension he felt was too long. He transferred to the College of the Sequoias where he was able to start over and he chose Ole Miss when he was finished with his time in the JUCO ranks.
Schaeffer never had any problems at Ole Miss, at least not off the field, and he played for two seasons when Ed Orgeron was the head coach. The Schaeffer situation caused no public relations problems for the Rebels because he spent time away from the spotlight and earned his way back into big time college football. Even though he wasn't as successful on the field as Ole Miss would have liked, he was never a distraction.
Masoli has not taken this path; he has not taken time off to get right. He is taking advantage of a rule that allows him to play with no penalty after his dismissal from Oregon. The public scrutiny and embarrassment may be punishment enough for some, but he cannot get off so lightly and be right back in college football without missing a game. Ole Miss does not need this player, this headache or this attention. They should not allow him into their program.
Is this a good decision for Ole Miss and can Masoli make a difference for the Rebels this year? E-mail
me Brian Harbach