This here blog post is, hopefully at least, the second or third to last newser we’ll have to throw onto the internet concerning Shea Patterson, former standout Ole Miss quarterback, who tore a ligament in his knee last season, then watched his backup Jordan Ta’amu destroy opposing defenses in his stead to finish out the year.
Patterson announced his decision to transfer to Michigan following the end of the 2017 season and the release of the NCAA’s updated sanctions for the very bad Rebels, sanctions which include a postseason ban for the 2018 college football season in addition to the postseason ban self-imposed by Ole Miss for 2017. NCAA policing being what it is, Patterson is required to file a mountain of paperwork arguing for his ability to forgo a gap transfer year, and he’s currently appealing to the NCAA to be immediately eligible to play for the Wolverines in 2018.
Ole Miss, which does not have the power or authority to block his eligibility — that power of decision making resides solely with the NCAA — has argued that he shouldn’t be rendered immediately eligible for 2018. In short, Rebel athletics views that outcome as an open incentive to other players who may otherwise fancy designs on flipping programs mid-college career, should they want to take advantage of some sort of “Patterson Rule.” That’s an understandable position, if in the case of this particular player and program a touch unnecessary and myopic.
Ole Miss needs to step away from the Patterson thing and just move the hell on. Put this shit behind you, accept that you can object to transfer rules in the future, and just let it lie. Patterson’s gone, and you’re fucking with his career after the fact.— Ole Miss Bloggeurs (@RedCupRebellion) April 11, 2018
Ole Miss’ staunch commitment to objecting to Patterson’s immediate eligibility constitutes a classic case of anti-labor feudalism, very much on brand for the NCAA, and a blinkered view of this whole situation. That refusal has also raised the ghosts of NCAA investigation past, namely disgraced former head coach Hugh Freeze, other Freeze-era staffers, and the sordid details of what got Rebel football here in the first place.
That refusal has also prompted a reportedly nine-page, scathing letter from Patterson “to Michigan,” according to CBS Sports, which has viewed a copy of the missive. In it, Patterson reportedly alleges that Ole Miss football’s coaching staff systematically misled him about the scope, depth, and severity of Rebel football’s doghouse standing in NCAA enforcement eyes, a pattern of deception that occurred over the course of some 20 months. That deception negatively affected his football career at the college level, runs the thinking, which can ripple out to his pro prospects as well. Understandable.
The letter further takes a direct shot at Freeze, by name, who resigned in disgrace last summer following the revelation that he had phoned a number of Florida and Texas-based escort services from his university-issued phone.
“It doesn’t seem fair to me that the only thing standing in the way of Coach Freeze making $5 million a year at another school was the discovery that he wasn’t the trustworthy, straight-laced role model that he claimed to be,” Patterson states.
Media darling and Patterson’s legal representative Thomas Mars also spoke to CBS Sports, and he’s currently helping five other former Rebels — receiver Tre Nixon, safety Deontae Anderson, linebacker Jarrion Street, offensive tackle Jack DeFoor, and receiver Van Jefferson — in their efforts to gain immediate eligibility after announcing their transfers out of Oxford late last year. That’s five guys leaving and seeking immediate eligibility, and that circumstance right there is Exhibit A in Ole Miss’ posture to argue against immediate eligibility for Patterson or anyone else who jumps ship.
“If Ole Miss follows the path it took in opposing Shea Patterson’s right to receive a waiver, whatever baseless objections Ole Miss might invent in opposition to this request should receive no weight at all,” Mars said.
Argue deception, lying, misleading or what — it doesn’t matter. We’ll never be privy to Freeze and Patterson’s personal conversations during his recruitment and time with Ole Miss football. The timeline of the NCAA’s various notices of allegations over and against Patterson’s arrival and play in Oxford would appear to combat the claims of his letter as presented by CBS. Without a very vocal and public attempt to block Patterson’s immediate eligibility in Ann Arbor, Patterson doesn’t write this letter and there’s a clean break. On the other hand, given the potential for a future exodus of talent, it’s understandable that athletic director Ross Bjork and company would petition the NCAA to deny his immediate eligibility.
In the NCAA universe in which we live, Rebel football finds itself in a difficult situation either way: suffer a black eye in the media at the hands of CBS Sports and Tom Mars moving forward (which has already happened), or potentially suffer with its on-field product should major pieces on the roster see swift and viable opportunities elsewhere. In this particular instance, though, Ole Miss should step away from their objection to the waiver. It hurts a transcendent player’s football career, for one.
For two, rehashing and reviving what has now become a five-year long octopodean slog through NCAA sleuthing is a waste of reputation, time, effort, and, most importantly, billable hours.