Should Ole Miss take Jeremiah Masoli?

College football is more popular than it has ever been. The crowds are bigger. The TV ratings are higher. Coaches are paid millions and assistant coaches now make more money that the previous generation ever dreamed out.

That’s the upside. The downside is that we’ve created a monster of expectations that encourages–almost demands–some risky behavior.

The case of former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is a prime example. Masoli is talented. No doubt about that. Oregon will probably be the best team in the Pac-10 this season even though Masoli is not there. If he was still there, we’d be talking about the Ducks in the national championship mix.

The reason Masoli is not there is that in June coach Chip Kelly kicked him off the team after his second legal incident in six months.  In January Masoli and a teammate were charged with second-degree burglary for stealing laptop computers from a fraternity house. He was charged with a felony which was knocked down to a misdemeanor.  In March Masoli pled guilty and received a year of probation. He was suspended for the 2010 season by coach Chip Kelly and told that if he screwed up one more time, he was out.

On June 7 Masoli was stopped for a traffic violation. He was driving on a suspended license and a search of the car revealed that he possessed less than an ounce of marijuana. He pled guilty on the marijuana charge and paid a fine. His attorney, Daniel Koenig, told the Oregonian newspaper that the suspended license charge was thrown out.

Kelly then booted Masoli from the team.

Understand that Masoli already had a rap sheet before these incidents. He spent three months in a juvenile detention center in 2005 after it was determined that he took part in a strong armed robbery. Nobody knows all the details because his juvenile records are sealed.

Did I mention that while all of this was going on Jeremiah Masoli earned his degree from Oregon? That means if he can find a Master’s degree program that Oregon does not offer at another school and gets enrolled, he will be immediately eligible to play in 2010.

Ole Miss is considering bringing Masoli to its campus. Coach Houston Nutt has been calling around trying to gather as much information as possible. He’s called Kelly. He’s called members of the media to get their take on it. The administration, all the way up to Chancellor Dan Jones, is going to get involved in this one.

Here’s the reality. My first instinct is to tell Ole Miss not to touch this kid with a 10-foot pole. The upside is that once he learns the offense, the kid is talented enough to help Nutt win an extra game or two. The assembled SEC media picked Ole Miss to finish last in the SEC West when they voted last week.

The downside, however, is that this guy could be a profound embarrassment to your institution if he screws up again. If you’re Ole Miss, you’re going to get criticized if you take Masoli. That is a given.  But if he gets arrested in Oxford, certainly a more conservative place than Eugene, Oregon, Ole Miss will be embarrassed on a national stage. Columnists and taking heads from sea to shining sea will use Ole Miss, a proud institution that has worked incredibly hard to build its reputation, as the butt of jokes about the very worst excesses of college football. They will say that Ole Miss sold its soul for a kid who had already proven that he was not trustworthy. That criticism, sad to say, will be justified.

But again, that’s easy to say. Another reality is that Nutt’s backup quarterback, Raymond Cotton, just announced that he was leaving the team. That leaves Nutt with starter Nathan Stanley and a JUCO transfer, Randall Mackey, who just joined the team.

Nutt sent a text to Parrish Alford of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal about this and acknowledged that criticism will come if he takes Masoli. But Nutt told Alford that he was also concerned about the “criticism I might receive if something happens and I don’t have a QB to finish the year.”

There, in the final analysis, is the rub. The reality of today’s game is that the same people who would criticize you for taking a Jeremiah Masoli would also call for your head on a platter if you go 6-6 because you didn’t have a healthy quarterback.

Like I wrote a while back: These things really fall on the adults who run college football and who consume college football as entertainment. Either they want discipline or they don’t. If you want discipline, you must be willing to live with the consequences of it. If you don’t want to live with the fallout of discipline, then don’t pretend that you really want it. You’re just paying lip service to it.

Here is my advice for whatever it is worth.

1. Chip Kelly, the Oregon coach, is a straight shooter. If I’m Houston Nutt and Kelly tells me that this kid is worth the risk, I’m going to be inclined to take that risk. But if Kelly doesn’t  recommend the kid, that would give me pause.

2. Jeremiah Masoli will have to come to Oxford, put on a coat and tie, and march into the office of Chancellor Dan Jones. He has to prove to the Chancellor that he deserves this chance and will not embarrass the university.

3. If accepted at Ole Miss, Masoli must have a press conference before he ever steps onto the practice field. He must stand before the cameras and give a huge mea culpa. He must say something like: “Thank you for this opportunity because I know by my past actions I really don’t deserve it. I promise you that you won’t be sorry.” And he has better sound like he means it.

Also, Ole Miss needs to bring commissoner Mike Slive into the loop. This is an institutional decision. I get that. But after a summer of SEC players behaving badly and administrators like Damon Evans behaving badly, the commissioner needs to get his two cents worth into this conversation. The SEC does not need a self-inflicted wound on this front.

So what do you think? This is a risky proposition for Ole Miss. We can all sit on our moral high horse and say that it shouldn’t be done no way, no how. But what do you do if you’re in the toughest football conference in America and this guy can help you win? And let’s not kid ourselves. Houston Nutt is not going to get fired for dealing with the Jeremiah Masolis of the world.

If he gets fired it will be because he didn’t win enough games, period. That is why this is a difficult call.

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206 comments Add your comment

dip

July 28th, 2010
8:26 am

How many chances do you give JM? Nutt would be crazy to sign him.

30-24 Dawgs - We Run This State!

July 28th, 2010
8:30 am

Agree Tony, Masoli sounds like nothing but trouble (more like an $SU or Vols player). Very risky indeed for Houston Nutt & the Hotty Toddys.

ACC #1

July 28th, 2010
8:31 am

Looks like another SEC school selling it’s soul for another win or two.

Goldtimer

July 28th, 2010
8:32 am

Maybe Mr Richt should call Masoli. Seems like he would fit right in and isn’t the depth chart lacking?

destin dawg

July 28th, 2010
8:37 am

there are too many good kids around…. drugs and a felony ??? not just beer drinking.. like a couple Dawgs recently got busted for… no thanks on this guy !!!

StraightJacket

July 28th, 2010
8:40 am

The SEC is dangerously close to falling back (as a conference) in the Fulmer Cup standings. When Ole Miss takes Masoli, they can inherit his points from Oregon and solidify their conference dominance in this annual award named after the longtime Volunteer coach. Ole Miss may still have a ways to go to catch up to UGA THIS year, but the Masoli move can definitely help maintain the image of the conference.

destin dawg

July 28th, 2010
8:41 am

Goldtimer.. mental illness caused by living on Tech campus.. Depression.. Bi Polar… crime.. drugs.. stuck in downtown getto… sirens all night… muggings… ESCAPE to Athens !!!

Jim

July 28th, 2010
8:43 am

Auburn’s qb was kicked off of Florida’s team for stealing a laptop. I guess some schools have no issue with character or lack there of.

lawdawg

July 28th, 2010
8:48 am

I’d say no, simply because it seems to be a lose-lose. If Masolli continues to act as he has in the past, its obvious what will happen, as you just laid out, Tony. But if Ole Miss does win, then it says Ole Miss will let anyone onto its team if they can produce better on the field than what they currently have. Doesnt that sound similar to the 80s miami teams? Drugs, guns, booze, etc. They still have a black eye for all the junk that happened down there in the 80s.

outkasted

July 28th, 2010
8:51 am

hes not good if u ask me…. i don’t see why he’s considered a top qb and he’s small…. not the risk….

Bleed Old Gold

July 28th, 2010
8:52 am

No honor. A 10 foot pole is not long enough. The fact that Nutt is thinking about this says a lot about him.

rehjr

July 28th, 2010
8:52 am

The fact that JM has graduated from Oregon in four years speaks a positive note. The kid (a man now at 21-22) is not dumb, a little stupid maybe. How many third chances have college coaches allowed to misdirected players that worked out? Daiid Palmer at Alabama is one. After more than 2 brushes with stupidity, Gene Stallings allowed Palmer to return, He went on to a successful career in the NFL and is now coaching in Birmingham. I think that what Nutt finds out in his background check and what Kelly at Oregon shares with him is the key. He will be judged critically by the success of the Ole Miss season without JM or the failure of JM to step up and be a man if he is allowed to join the squad

Jeff

July 28th, 2010
8:54 am

Not worth it….

GeoffDawg

July 28th, 2010
8:55 am

Time to reunite Houston Nutt and Mitch Mustain! I’m sure they can be adults about it.

Mybe So

July 28th, 2010
8:55 am

The SEC: We will take your poor, your tired, your indigent and your criminals too…

KR

July 28th, 2010
8:56 am

Masoli had a scholarship, used it to get a degree and has graduated. In the process, he has made poor personal choices that resulted in him being dismissed from the team prior to his last year of eligibility. He really doesn’t deserve a second chance on the field at the college level.

Unless Masoli is so good that he can give Ole Miss a legitimate shot at winning the SEC West, I don’t know why anyone would even have this conversation. Even if he was that good, the potential down sides far outweigh the long shot up side.

Finally, I understand that Masoli only has one year of eligibility left. What’s Nutt’s plan for the 2011 season? Maybe he should try to build for next year rather than go out on a limb for the possibility of a couple of extra wins this season.

Frankly, I don’t envy Houston Nutt’s position right now…

Ron Mexico

July 28th, 2010
8:56 am

Lose-lose, or win-win? Nutt can keep him on the shortest of leashes, say he’s a good guy for giving a good kid a 2nd (or 4th) chance, and cut his losses at the first missed curfew. Masoli, on the other hand, gets another chance to showcase for the NFL, which likely wouldn’t take him after a year off with his current “character issues”. A clean year down south would smooth that over.

dip

July 28th, 2010
8:56 am

Oregon with JM a National Champ contender – until they play a team that can actually play defense. Kudos to Kelly for booting him off the team. I believe Nutt will say thanks but no thanks.

dawgster

July 28th, 2010
8:58 am

If the dawgs were thinking about taking this guy the critics would be all over this…Don’t get me wrong i believe in giving guys other chances, but from what i have read he has been given his alotment of chances…It sounds to me that Ole Miss may be leaning towards taking him…I just wonder what the newspapers would be saying if the dawgs dared try to sign this guy…

Carlton Powell

July 28th, 2010
9:00 am

Don’t do it. I have friends who have lived in, and taught at, Ole Miss. We ALL agree that for a lot people the image of Ole Miss is STILL 1962 and James Meredith. That’s not fair, because as you note in the column, UM has worked incredibly hard at creating a solid university. UM does not need any distractions of this type. I mean the guy screwed up on a grand scale TWICE in 6 months. Does anyone REALLY think this will not happen again?? Yeah, he can and would, put on the jacket and tie and do the dog and pony show for the Chancellor and Commissioner, but that’s just that; a dog and pony show to get what he wants. I, and most rational people I know, understand these facts. What this young man needs to do is get on with his life. Get in a good master’s program and straighten out his life. As you have noete previously, Tony, the NFL researches this stuff much more dillegently than in the past, so I wonder what kind of NFL career he could have presently. I wish him the best, and hope the best decision is made for all concerned.

Robert W. Miller

July 28th, 2010
9:01 am

This is just another example of what the SEC will do to win football games. They will take any thug and then scream fowl when they are caught violating NCAA rules. We’ll see if Old Miss cares more about football than doing the right thing.

Spike

July 28th, 2010
9:01 am

I wouldn’t take him. Enough is enough. He got his degree from Oregon. If he is as good as Tony claims, let him go to the NFL and try his luck there. Sounds like he would fit in with some of those hoodlums.

Col. Reb (in exile)

July 28th, 2010
9:05 am

This one is easy – No ,hell no.

1) The kid likes to wake and bake. How does Nutt keep him eligible if he likes his reefer ? And what message does it send to the really dedicated players that have sacrificed and bled to take on some transient gunslinger that may or may not have the team’s best interests at heart. This could kill team morale.

2) Ole Miss is not a “Sheriff’s Youth Ranch” . let this kid work out his demons in Division 1-AA.

3) Brent Schaeffer.

4) Juco’s. Transfers. Head cases. Doing the “Quick Fix” and taking shortcuts should be ringing an alarm bell for Ole Miss fans. This stuff eventually leads to a huge mess to clean up.

5) Ole Miss can finish last in the west WITHOUT Masoli. He won’t make much difference either way.

Purple Drank

July 28th, 2010
9:05 am

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Miami for laying the foundations for what it truly means to be thugs.

Thanks UM. That 30 for 30 hatchet job exposed u as arrogant, lawless, and disrespectful thugs. And u are sooo proud of that “movie.” Afterall, i got the highest tv rating of all the ESPN “movies.”

At least now you are choir boys and u spend your days crying about what bad people all these other teams have. Meanwhile, Butch Davis keeps ur nutz in a pickle jar on his desk. Duhhhh U BABY!

rebman76

July 28th, 2010
9:05 am

Hey StraightJacket, Any more bombs been built by terrorists on teh Ga. Tech Campus lately? As an Ole Miss alum (class of 2001), I dont want Masoli around that campus.

That being said, however, the environment of college football has, as Tony said in the article, created an ugly monster that demands perfection all of the time. Now, i don’t mean going 12-0 every year but fans, alumni, and the administration demands winning at all costs. Fans will not put up with records of 6-6 every other year. Last year, when Georgia went 6-6, there were a number of fans on this and other blogs, that the ajc has, in an uproar because the Dawgs were at .500. Some even wanted Mark Richt’s head on a platter. They got Willie Martinez’s head instead which appeased the football faithful in Athens.

Ole Miss is caught in the ultimate Catch-22. Take a chance on Maasoli, win now and take all of the criticism or don’t take him and roll the dice if bothe QBs (Stanley and Mackey) go down with injuries. Cotton leaving puts Nutt in the position of doing what is best for the team. I don’t like it but Masoli will probably be a Rebel when it’s all said and done.

dawgcrzy

July 28th, 2010
9:05 am

i say take him get some pressure off us

Kiffinisatosser

July 28th, 2010
9:06 am

They didn’t name him Nutt for nothing!

kenny d

July 28th, 2010
9:08 am

The SEC West can be compared to the “old West”, so just take him, he will fit in the with the other outlaws and cowboys in that group

rebman76

July 28th, 2010
9:08 am

Should Masoli become a Rebel, Nutt needs to tell him “One screw up, even if it is a missed curfew, and you are out of here.” There needs to be some accountability on the player’s part.

Steve

July 28th, 2010
9:09 am

Guys who don’t know right from wrong, arn’t going to turn out well with a uniform change. Leopards don’t change their spots. Masoli won’t change. These guys almost never do.

Da Coach

July 28th, 2010
9:10 am

Great article, Tony. Both sides of the issue are well defined but I would have to think the words “drugs” and “felony” trump all. What kind of message does that send to ALL other students? Just my two cents…..

kenny d

July 28th, 2010
9:10 am

rebman,
who are you kidding? Ole Miss will put up with a 6-6 record every other year as long as you win 8 in the in between year.

Worm

July 28th, 2010
9:11 am

dawgster, you are exactly right..As much as Ga. could use a QB right now, if we thought about taking this guy the media would be ALL OVER us.

TheTaxJacket

July 28th, 2010
9:12 am

Masoli is a punk!!!!!!!!

By contrast, Joshua Nesbitt represents every thing that’s good about college athletics. His toughness, heart, athleticism, scholarship, and samaritanism are second to none and make my heart froth over with joy to be a GT graduate. Please remember him for the Heismen in November Tony!

(((( 45 – 42 ))))

NOTSO FAST

July 28th, 2010
9:12 am

Auburn is GIVING an FLORIDA player that had been kicked off for stealing a opportunity to be their starter. MANY Coaches will do anything to win. You can’t blame them because they get fired if they don’t win.

George P. Burdell

July 28th, 2010
9:17 am

Its becoming very clear why Ole Miss decided to drop Tech from its schedule this year and next. You certainly cannot use the excuse that they had a tough out of conference schedule and needed to even it out. Many national publications have blasted them for the weak OOC lineup and it makes absolutely no sense that they would drop Tech for any other reason than they wanted to avoid the thumping they would have gotten from the Jackets. It is difficult to say Arkansas may have upgraded the character of their coach by going with Petrino, but the more we learn about Nutt, it seems like that is exactly what they did. Nutt better hope things work out at Ole Miss because there aren’t too many schools left that would stoop low enough to actually hire him.

PMC

July 28th, 2010
9:18 am

Auburn took a chance on a former Florida QB. If I’m Houston Nutt I think it’s worth the risk. It’s not like they can’t kick his behind off campus the first time he so much as forgets to wash behind his ears. Some people take a few lumps to the head before he gets it. Masoli is an incredible talent with a 10 cent head. Maybe Houston Nutt can help change that and further education at Ole Miss will make him understand the opportunites he’s blowing by being an idiot.

NoGaGator

July 28th, 2010
9:18 am

Tony -

If I’m not mistaken, didn’t Nutt already take a big problem player and have it blow up in his face? I believe he gave Hornsby – the kid who was kicked off UF’s team after he was charged for using a dead girl’s credit card – a scholarship. Once at Oxford he continued his troubled ways until Nutt was forced to cut him.

Zebra

July 28th, 2010
9:18 am

Only Carolina “screams fowl” with any regularity you moralizing ignoramus.

PMC

July 28th, 2010
9:20 am

Nutt is one of the best in game head coaches in college football. If anyone can get the most out of him. He can.

rebman76

July 28th, 2010
9:20 am

kennyd,

I would hope that Ole Miss is moving out of the “6-6 and we’re happy” days. It makes the SEC look better if more teams have winning records.

SECisFootball

July 28th, 2010
9:21 am

Should they take him? No! Will they? Yes. Ole Miss is desperate and they have a bad situation at QB and on O in general.

Rob

July 28th, 2010
9:21 am

I realize this is a football blog, but the academic side of this deserves some discussion. To be eligible, Masoli must be accepted into a Master’s program that is not available at Oregon. That almost certainly means finding a relatively obscure program that Masoli has no real intention of completing. What does it say about Ole Miss graduate programs if the graduate school goes along with this? I can’t imagine that the faculty will like this at all.

VININGS DAWG

July 28th, 2010
9:24 am

Let’s get the facts straight here folks. I am aUGA fan but the Cam Newton situation is not even close. Newton was not kicked off the Florida team for stealing the laptop. Yes he did purchase a stolen laptop and did throw out the window when the cops came. Newton did work out a deal with the Gainesville authorities and all charges were dropped. Newton left Florida after he saw Tebow coming back for a Senior season and emergence of John Brantley as the hier apparent. Masoli has been convicted of these offenses, whereas Newton has no record. As Newton has admitted several times, he made a stupid mistake. I know the family and Cam Newton is a good kid who made a dumb young person’s mistake.

As UGA fans let’s not cast stones at others when we have plenty of our own idiots who routinely committing crimnes in Athens. If we were to cast stones at Chizik or even Nutt in this matter, then shouldn’t we cast the same stones at Richt?

Dixie Clear

July 28th, 2010
9:25 am

He’ll be a perfect fit in the SEC!

Dumbo

July 28th, 2010
9:25 am

TB….I may be wrong, but something tells me if this idiot ends up in Oxford…he’ll soon find a bed at Parchman Farm (Miss St Prision)!!!!!
And as you so well stated, the Mississippi justice system ain’t to be confused with the laidback Oregon justice system, YIKES>

Destin moron

July 28th, 2010
9:31 am

destin dawg… yea go to Athens so he can get arrested every night. Great idea!!! Come to Tech for a quality education and to learn some stinky discipline!

chris

July 28th, 2010
9:34 am

I wouldn’t touch him because as Dr. Phil would say, “The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior”. Sounds like the kid doesn’t learn lessons very well.
On the other hand, Nutt is in the toughest conference and job depends on winning games. My guess is the pressure isn’t as bad in Oxford as it would be in Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge, Athens, etc. I don’t think Nutt is going to lose his job if he has one bad season. I say stay away, take your lumps this year and make sure you recruit at least two QB’s to be there next season.

GeezusDawg

July 28th, 2010
9:35 am

Nutt is too good of a coach and recruiter to take the risk on this one. He needs to keep recruiting and coaching his way and build Ole Miss the right way.

The Ugly Truth

July 28th, 2010
9:37 am

Everyday people are on blogs talking about discipline, honor, and plenty of “good” kids etc…

First if there were this overflowing pool of model citizens who were also talented we wouldn’t see the many problems we do in college atheltics. The harsh reality is winning cures all ills and these coaches are hired to do just that…WIN.
We can put a nice ribbon on the situation and say yeah we want a coach who will instill discipline and make the players “better men” but at the end of the day what matters is winning. Houston Nutt gets it, period.

He’s weighing the lesser of two evils:
a) suffer through this season and take his lumps with a 6-6 or worse record
b) take a chance on a kid who could help them win 7 or 8 games and go bowling

We can all sit here on our high horse and say no don’t bring this kid in, don’t give him another chance, he’s not worth the risk etc…

But just for a moment let’s pretend we’re not talking about Masoli but instead we’re talking about the key player on YOUR favorite team and whether or not to kick that player off the team or give them a second chance. I doubt many would be so quick to write off the player.
What if we were talking about AJ Green, Mark Ingram, Brantley, Nesbitt or Mallet? How many would support the coach for kicking those players off the team AFTER a poor season? How many would want their coach to go get one of those guys, knowing he’s a difference maker?

The bottom line is we all say this and that, but again at the end of the day what any of us really care about is winning. I know there will be those who will respond to this post and thump their proud chests and say “some of us actually do care about more than winning” my reponse riiiggghhht!
Look at SC, Spurrier has had one of the cleanest programs with one of the highest graduation rates in the SEC, but I don’t hear anyone applauding that effort.
ND’s new coach- Kelly even mentioned the fact that while he understands academics are important so is winning as the last 3 coaches before him produced the best ACADEMIC/GRAD rates in the school’s history so why fire them?
If UGA wins 10+ games this season little if anything will be said about the drinking incidents this summer
If UGA wins 8 or fewer games, Richt will be on the hotseat and many will point to “off field” issues as a major problem and how he’s lost control of the team.
It’s ugly…but it’s true