SPORTS EDITOR BLOG — It would be really, really easy to sit here and criticize Ole Miss head football coach Houston Nutt for entertaining the idea of securing the services of jettisoned Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. The message boards from other schools have already done a good enough job of giving opinions about that subject, so there is no reason to pile on. As the days have gone on since Raymond Cotton left the Rebels Saturday, it has appeared more and more likely that Masoli wearing Red and Blue will happen.
It’s easy to understand why Nutt has looked into getting Masoli and why he wasn’t worried about him less than a week ago. Cotton staying allowed Nutt not to worry about the former Duck, while his departure makes him only think about him being part of the team.
The quarterback position didn’t have a lot of depth to start with, but Cotton’s departure only made things worse. It’s for that reason that Nutt had to start thinking about Masoli and whether or not it was worth taking in the baggage he would bring with him across the country.
Masoli has been in and out of trouble since his high school days. There is no disputing that. He’s been convicted of burglary, and most recently was dismissed from the Ducks by coach Chip Kelly for possession of marijuana, no driver’s license and another traffic related incident. In essence, Kelly had gone through enough with Masoli.
Masoli, who has graduated from Oregon, would have been playing for the Ducks this year if he had kept his nose clean, Kelly said. Many feel like he would have been a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate as well if he stayed where he was on the West Coast. But it was his attitude, his unwillingness to finally get things right, that has left him in the precarious situation of finding another school to play at.
Last week Masoli was linked to UNLV and Louisiana Tech as well as Hawaii. But those schools dropped off the radar screen over the weekend mostly because their respective head coaches didn’t want to take on his problems and the public relations spin job that goes along with it.
All three of those schools were in a much better situation than Ole Miss is from a quarterback situation, however, so the decision to say ‘no’ wasn’t as hard as the ‘no’ Nutt would be facing right now. The Rebels, much like Masoli, are in a precarious position and the two can help each other out.
Masoli can finally get it right under Nutt, a guy that is famous for giving players several chances, while the Rebels would gain a very talented quarterback who knows what it’s like to face pressure under fire. In short, Masoli would be a great insurance policy for sophomore Nathan Stanley. Nutt knows it. Athletics Director Pete Boone knows it as do all the fans. Even if opposing fans call him a ‘thug’ on the road, there is more than enough talent in his legs and arm to make up for some unkind ribbing.
As tough as it might be to swallow the idea of allowing a guy with this many brushes with the law on the team, and possibly starting games in the SEC, it’s also tough for many to see what the team would look like if Stanley or even Randall Mackey went down with an injury. Ole Miss’ chances of winning seven, or even eight games, would be cut back considerably.
That scenario has likely played out in Nutt’s mind ever since the weekend, and it was too ugly of a scenario for him not to see about Masoli, and if a relationship could be established.
We could find out as early as today if the administration feels like they can go ahead with Masoli. Some sources say everything is complete and that the i’s and t’s only need to be dotted and crossed. I don’t know if we’re that close, but Masoli-to-Ole Miss has been the most feasible option ever since he was dismissed in June.
It will be interesting to see how all of this shakes out and how everyone accepts Masoli if he does end up in Oxford. My guess is the veterans will welcome him, but explain to him that there won’t be any funny business for him to get involved with. This team is too close to one another to let one guy mess up what has been a very good product the last two years. (July 27, 2010)