Yesterday afternoon, Raymond Cotton, a redshirt freshman quarterback at the number two spot in Houston Nutt's depth chart, finalized his decision to transfer out of Ole Miss and to - this ain't a joke - South Alabama. Cotton, a one-time blue chip prospect, was a fan favorite as the universally accepted Rebel quarterback of the future. And yet, despite the potential he has shown and the faith the coaches seem to have shown in him, he left, putting his now former coaches and teammates in a very tight bind and in a position to take significant risks, even if they're just of the public relations sort, to assuage the difficulties incurred by his departure.
As a fan, I am obviously a bit miffed by this. But, as a realist, I say good riddance to Raymond Cotton.
No Rebel fan was unexcited by Raymond Cotton's signing with our program in the spring of 2009. A highly recruited, big-bodied, mobile, strong-armed quarterback is without a doubt something which any program could use. When people saw his performance in the Grove Bowl (nearly 200 yards passing and two touchdowns), the Ray Cotton excitement only grew. We could seemingly not wait for the future of Ole Miss football with Raymond Cotton at the helm of the offense.
Apparently, neither could Raymond Cotton.
I do not know exactly why Raymond Cotton decided to transfer - so nothing I present to you regarding circumstances should be regarded as anything higher than rumor or speculation - but what I have heard does nothing but suggest that the transfer was entirely the doing of Raymond Cotton, motivated by hubris, and hardly founded in logic.
Ray Cotton was apparently upset at the perceived dearth of playing time he would receive this fall and the limitations the coaches asked him to place on himself due to his partially torn labrum. Most significantly, Cotton was allegedly not asked to participate in the Manning passing camp while penciled-in starter Nathan Stanley was. This perturbed him, causing him to threaten a transfer before eventually doing so. He also allegedly made his decision against the wishes of the coaches and his own parents.
When I look at all of the variables and circumstances surrounding this whole situation, I cannot say that I will terribly miss Raymond Cotton.
Ray Cotton may, in a vacuum, be a better quarterback than Nathan Stanley. Hell, Coach Nutt himself even said that Cotton was a better quarterback than Stanley during the Grove Bowl. He is bigger, stronger, and more mobile than Stanely. But he is only a redshirt freshman, and he is fighting through a partially torn labrum. Hell, the only reason he was on the depth chart anyway and not in rehab nursing a freshly sewn up shoulder was because he was just that good and our quarterback position is just that thin. But yet, despite his talents, he does not have the experience in a college system that Nathan Stanley has. He doesn't have the gametime experience that Nathan Stanley has. And he likely did not have the grasp of the playbook that Nathan Stanley has (I say this only because his knowledge of the system seems to be the attribute of Stanley's that the coaches are most pleased with). For he, an injured freshman, to expect playing time over a healthy Nathan Stanley is not only selfish, but it's also foolish.
Which is exactly why I say good riddance. The inflated self-worth and almost extreme aversion to adversity Raymond Cotton has demonstrated over the past few days is not what makes a good quarterback. A little cockiness is fine, and quarterbacks are more than welcome to get frustrated when things go wrong, but they, on the whole, must be selfless, short-memoried, and driven. Raymond Cotton has never demonstrated any such attributes.
Good luck at South Alabama Raymond, I guess. You definitely won't have to worry about silly things like competition for playing time, difficult opponents, or demanding coaching staffs down there, I guess. Have a blast; we'll see you on somebody's NFL scout team in a few years.
So where to go from now? Uh, duh, Jeremiah Masoli. If the rumors are indeed true (and I know as much as most of y'all so don't look to me for answers), Masoli is interested in being the next Rebel quarterback. He was apparently even seen in Oxford this past weekend. I know he likes smoking herb and was busted for stealing a dude's computer from a fraternity house on the University of Oregon's campus, but his on-field accomplishments speak for themselves. He guided his Oregon Ducks to the Pac 10 championship and a Rose Bowl berth while averaging 235 yards of offense and 2 touchdowns a game.
It sucks that the departure of a guy who had the potential to give the Rebels two or even three solid years of quarterbacking opens up an opportunity to bring a guy who can only give us his all for one season, but the possibility of Jeremiah Masoli trucking an Arkansas or LSU safety flat on his ass before strutting into the endzone is just too good to pass up at our current juncture. There is a debate on this, I know, but there shouldn't be if wins and losses are the attributes of our Rebel football team which concern you most.
I shouldn't have to write this last part, but in order to hopefully stave off the inevitable bullshit, Coach Nutt is not at all to blame for this. Detractors of our program and the coach who leads it are likely already spouting off the trite "QB Killur" nonsense, using Cotton's transfer as evidence prima facie of this. But I really cannot see what at all Coach Nutt did to cause Cotton's transfer. He decided to rest his injured redshirt freshman quarterback in favor of a redshirt sophomore with playing experience. There is nothing at all wrong or illogical with that decision. Anyone arguing otherwise either doesn't understand football or has let their anti-Nutt obsession cloud their hopefully otherwise clear judgment.
Really, the guy is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't regarding Cotton. Were he to do something actually congruent with the QB Killur moniker - namely, shred Raymond Cotton's already injured shoulder by asking him to take first team duties and attend passing camps - he'd be crucified. He does otherwise, and he's also crucified. It's ridiculous but, I guess unnecessary and illogical ridicule is the cross one bears when you live in Arkansas for a decade and earn more than 30 or 40 thousand dollars in the process.
So, haters, unless you can concretely demonstrate what exactly Coach Nutt did as a "killur" (the word is "killer," morons), do us a favor and shut your fat fucking mouth.