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5 thoughts on Shea Patterson’s decision to transfer to Michigan

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Streaky, brilliant, disappointing, talented. All of these things can be true.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

1. Shea Patterson officially announced his decision to transfer to Michigan on Monday, not hours removed from a recruiting visit to Ann Arbor. Rumors were already in the works that Shea would leave once news emerged that he had signed a document that reopened his recruitment. That decision was, one assumes, linked to the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions letter banning Ole Miss football from postseason play for the 2018 season.

The true junior wants to compete for the College Football Playoff and beyond right now, so his choice to jump ship makes sense, full stop.

2. Shea Patterson is a supremely talented passer, and a dazzling improviser when things turn south. His ability to move east-west and north-south with speed always lends him the potential to break one off. That squirreliness in the pocket can perhaps contribute some measure of headache, though, since he at times will take off after making just one read. The agility, the speed, the arm — admittedly valuable attributes, especially in the Big Ten — are both a blessing and a curse. Shea can hurt you all over the yard — as he did against Texas A&M last season — or he can become a liability — as he did this season against Alabama.

3. Shea Patterson announced his transfer via Twitter, using a screen shot of his Notes app, the preferred method for high school prospects to issue missives of this sort.

This is all boilerplate stuff, to be sure, but it’s difficult not to feel that he’s sincere in his affections for Oxford and Ole Miss. Whatever the palace intrigue that transpired resulting in the conviction that he must transfer now — was his father a vocal influence on this? did he sense a battle for his position in spring and fall camp? had he soured in his relationship with the coaching staff? — the decision to leave Oxford, as prompted by the second postseason ban, maybe belie the fact that he would have stayed had the additional bowl sanction not come down. That then would argue for a certain degree of loyalty, however tenuous, however contingent, but in the end he wanted — and needed — to do what was best for his career.

Does it feel somewhat mercenary? Sure, to an extent. Should the Rebel faithful hold his feet to the fire for the decision to bail? No, never. Should the Rebel faithful try to make themselves feel better by yelling “WE DON’T EVEN NEED YOU” in his Twitter mentions? No, don’t do that either. Nor should the Rebel faithful actively root against him. Move on.

4. Shea Patterson yielded the floor to Jordan Ta’amu midway through the Week 7 game against LSU. He played some snaps on the busted PCL, but then either he or the training staff pulled the plug on his night. They later pulled the plug on his 2017 season, and Ta’amu was handed the keys. That worked out quite well for the Ole Miss offense, as the throwin’ Samoan threw for 1,682 yards and 11 touchdowns in seven appearances. His overall passer rating currently sits at 164.5, considerably north of Patterson’s 151.5 in the 2017 season.

Ta’amu is a decisive personality behind center, and when he runs he runs downhill, and generally for decent gains. In addition to his passing TDs, he ran four in himself on the strength of 167 total rushing yards.

Ole Miss’ offense will be fine, is what we’re trying to say here.

5. Shea Patterson came to Oxford as the much-heralded No. 1 overall QB according to the 247Sports composite. His offer sheet was impressive, and he signed on with the Hugh Freeze administration knowing full well about the NCAA investigation and the assumption that he would be groomed as a redshirt in his first year behind Chad Kelly then take the reigns in year two. That isn’t exactly how things played out, of course, what with Kelly going down with a knee injury of his own and Freeze burning Patterson’s redshirt right of his back with three games remaining in the 2016 season.

He played admirably in those first three starts, but the drubbing at the hands of Mississippi State and subsequent 5-7 record prevented him from playing in what would have been his only bowl game opportunity. The following spring, Ole Miss self-imposed the postseason sanction, then the following fall, the NCAA did so themselves.

Two counterfactuals, the second contingent upon the first: what if Shea hadn’t gone down with the knee injury, and what if the NCAA hadn’t slammed a second bowl ban down on Ole Miss football? It’s a moot point to entertain these hypotheticals with any real seriousness, yes, but one still can’t help but ask them, if only in thought-experiment form.

Which is all they ever will be hereafter — mere thought-experiments — because Shea’s gone.