Nothing is official yet, but all signs are pointing to Jeremiah Masoli being the newest member of the Ole Miss Rebel football team. He wants to be here, the coaches want him here, and, most importantly, the administration hasn't said "no". Those in the know, namely Neal McReady and David Brandt, have both hinted that the beleaguered former Oregon Duck only has some bureaucratic loopholes to jump through before he's given the go-ahead.
This is exciting. In just a matter of a few short days our football squad went from having an unexpectedly dire quarterback situation to boasting one of the most dynamic playmaking quarterbacks in BCS football over the past two seasons. No situation can ever be perfect, and this one regarding our Rebel quarterbacks is certainly far from it, but it is light years ahead of where it was a mere 48 hours ago. Jeremiah Masoli can add a spark and a dynamic to an offense unlike perhaps any other quarterback in the Southeastern Conference and, assuming the best - something which we Ole Miss fans really should never do - can turn our offense from something fairly one-dimensional into something with greater diversity and nuance.
This is, of course, not enough to satisfy much of the Rebel fanbase. They have concerns which, while not entirely illegitimate, can and should be overlooked by any Rebel fan concerned with winning football games. After perusing message boards, Twitter, and the Facebooks, it seems the biggest concerns people have with Masoli's brand new Rebel status are as follows (in no particular order):
He's a "thug" - Look, I hate to be this guy, but "thug" is really just Southern WASP slang for "brown guy with a checkered past." Honestly, really think about this here, how many times have you heard someone label a white person a thug? I know it's cheap and slimy to bring race into this, and I do not believe cranky old Ole Miss fans are inherently against minority quarterbacks (Romaro Miller is absolutely loved in Oxford), but I do kinda feel that a certain element of our fan base tend to put certain people on shorter leashes. I dunno, maybe I'm out of line with this one, but I've been following Rebel football pretty damn closely for a while now; I'm hardly an outsider looking in. I think I have an idea as to what I'm talking about.
Why bring all of this up, then? Because Masoli's transgressions really aren't that bad. His involvement in the stealing of some laptops from the SAE house at Oregon is really more akin to "bafflingly stupid" than thuggery, and getting caught with a teensy-weensy bit of grass during a frivolous traffic stop is more of a "welcome to a college town" type of scenario, not "thuggery". His issues as a child are, just that, childhood issues. There's a reason most states wipe juvenile records clean, and that's because people mature. I won't gussy it up here: when he was sixteen, he was locked up for a while in juvenile hall for assaulting and robbing somebody at a California shopping mall. I have no idea what the details of the case are, but that's a pretty serious transgression, especially for a sixteen year old. But, what's really important to remember is that Masoli has committed no such transgression since. Some may look at him and apply their limited knowledge of the guy and think, "oh yeah, he looks like the ‘fightin' in da club' type," but such sentiments are baseless. The guy has not demonstrated himself to be violent or malicious, just a little reckless, and many, many Rebels have done far worse than Jeremiah Masoli while spending time in Oxford.
- He's a quick fix - Uh, yeah, he is, and your point? When someone presents this as a knock on Masoli and the coaches' decision to pursue him, all you've got to ask is "what is our alternative?" As we stand now, our options are to maintain the status quo at quarterback which, post Raymond Cotton, means a lightly seasoned redshirt sophomore starting over a green junior college transfer and a guy Coach Nutt met at the Rib Cage ("Whoo boy, look at that'un get after them pork nachos! HE'S A FOOTBALL PLAYER!"). We need something which, at the very least, provides us with serviceable depth. Masoli not only provides that, but he also provides us with a proven BCS-level offensive talent. He's definitely a quick fix, but when you're on a sinking ship, you'll take whatever patch job you can find.
- How's Nathan Stanley gonna feel about this? - This is a concern I've seen from not only Rebel fans who legitimately worry about the signal caller we've been spending two seasons preparing for a starting role, but also from State and Arkansas fans as an attempt to disparage Coach Nutt's decision making because, as we all know, any coach looking to bring in a talented quarterback is obviously slighting and vilifying the quarterbacks he already has, right? Regardless of one's reason for concern with Nate Stanley here, such concerns are apparently not valid. While an occurrence which did not see yours truly as a witness (this is fancy talk for "I'm not 100% sure this happened"), sources have informed the Cup that Stanley along with the team captains (namely, Jerrell Powe and Kentrell Lockett) approached the coaches themselves to express their want for Masoli as a teammate. These guys care more about getting wins than their spots on the depth chart and they see Jeremiah Masoli as a guy who can put them in a better position to get those wins.
What are State, Arkansas, and LSU fans gonna say?! - Oh come on, like we should care. Remember folks,
Does everyone remember when it appeared that Cam Newton was a lock to play at Mississippi State? His past is eerily similar to Masoli's (he was dismissed from Florida after, of all possible things, stealing a laptop) and his quarterbacking skills apparently as covetous. Ole Miss fans saw this and got their hate on, talking about a "thug" quarterback and "M$U" and all of that other silly bullshit. What everyone really meant was, "shit, I hope they don't get Cam Newton because, honestly, he may be a pretty good quarterback." Newton would eventually spurn State and now looks to be the starter at Auburn this fall which, predictably enough elicited similar hatin' out of Bama fans.
Of course they're going to talk shit. It's the same reason Arkansas fans talk shit about Houston Nutt or why we talk shit about Dan Mullen: in their particular contexts, they're proven threats. People want to talk shit about Masoli and especially an Ole Miss with Masoli at quarterback because they are legitimately worried about the potential potency such a team could have.
We all know a hater or two (hell, I am one), and we all know that hater's don't like what they can't control. They don't like what they fear. If Ole Miss, with or without Masoli, weren't a threat to our SEC opponents, cries of "Old Piss wacist Webel quarterback Killur thug Masoli" wouldn't be inundating our Rebel existences. Let ‘em hate on and don't waste your time listening to them.
Let's get excited, Rebel football fans. Jeremiah Masoli, if he makes it to Oxford and lives up to even half of his potential, will do great things for us this fall.
Aaaaand just as I type this, I learn that West Virginia is courting him pretty hard now. Nutt and Boone meet today to discuss everything; let's hope they pull the trigger and bring him down to Dixieland soon.