Ole Miss was slapped with another bowl ban last Friday on top of their self-imposed 2017 postseason non-participation as part of the NCAA Committee on Infractions’ punishment report for Rebel football. The decision to withhold Ole Miss from postseason play for another season was arbitrary and heavy-handed, meant to appear exemplary for any other schools out there that may hold whiffs of paying players compensation commensurate with labor expended. It’s not even commensurate pay, which is the greatest injustice of all.
In the wake of the COI release, the NCAA announced that any Ole Miss football seniors wishing to transfer out of Oxford would be fully capable of doing so without forfeiting a year of eligibility in the process. That’s the one thing the NCAA got right in this case, even though it was a problem invented entirely by the NCAA’s own doing in first the place. Slap down a brick-hard punishment, then allow players to go make the best of themselves. Good show. They sure do love paperwork in Indianapolis, it seems.
A sub-story of this moronic saga involves Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson, the No. 1 rated QB in the 2016 class by 247Sports’ composite. Patterson’s redshirt was shredded late last season after Chad Kelly went down with a knee injury, and Shea was called up to finish out the last three games of the year as a true frosh. He performed admirably — single-handedly bringing down a comeback win against Texas A&M in College Station — and shouldering the starting duties in 2017 as any seasoned vet should.
Patterson’s knee got blasted out by LSU in Week 7 this season, and now he’s signed a document allowing him to reopen his recruitment. He in fact played on the bad knee for a stretch in the second half of that LSU game — a terrible decision by Ole Miss’ training staff — before mercifully bowing out and ceding the floor to one Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss’ backup quarterback from New Mexico Military Institute. A helluva player.
Jordan Ta’amu. The Throwin’ Samoan. The lone antidote to an offense that found itself in momentary limbo halfway through the 2017 season. Ta’amu is fucking good. In seven games this past season he completed over 66 percent of his passes for 1,682 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 164.5, which SEEMS PRETTY GOOD, JIM. He scored four rushing touchdowns in seven games worth of work, and racked up 165 run yards besides (that number includes negative sack yards, of course).
Ta’amu is accurate and strong. Shea is also accurate and strong. Would that we all had accurate and strong quarterbacks in our everyday lives. Ole Miss thrives on an embarrassment of them. At least for right now.
Can Ta’amu replace Patterson’s production at the QB spot?
Easy: yes. Patterson’s QB rating is 141.2 after his injury, a significant deal less than Ta’amu’s 164.5 this season. Ta’amu full-on demonstrated his ability to own this offense as his down the stretch with impressive outputs against everyone he faced, even in the losses. He’s strong, he’s accurate, and he’s decisive. Give me this guy over anyone in the country on any given Saturday.
We have two scenarios here: (1) Shea leaves, or (2) Shea stays. In the first instance, fine, Ta’amu will carry this offense into the end zone six ways to Saturday. In the second instance, we should think that Matt Luke has a real quarterback battle on his hands. After all, Shea can go full schizophrenic at times, and he’s no Johnny Manziel. Ta’amu trusts the process, knows his limits, and barrels downfield when he sees the opening. He’s also fast as shit in the open field, and he can lay a hit.
So don’t worry.
Ta’amu is a welcome, even hoped for, quarterback for Ole Miss’ future. He’s fun to watch, he executes the system well, and he doesn’t arouse rumors about transferring to Michigan or whatever.
Ta’amu is the guy should Patterson leave. He may be the guy even if Shea doesn’t leave. Give us a full-on Qb battle. Hell, why not. DRAMA.
Shea can do what we wants.
Ole Miss probably won’t suffer for the loss if he transfers, at least not in 2018. Because Jordan Ta’amu is goddamn good.