Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ole Miss Fans, It's Okay to Point a Finger at the NCAA

It may not get you the game back, but it may make you feel better.

Earlier this past week, I wrote the following in regards to Jeremiah Masoli's Friday reinstatement by the NCAA:
Still curious to me is that how different the reaction would have been from Ole Miss fans had the first game's opponent been more of a challenge. While Ole Miss has been playing Memphis in Week 1 back to 2004, other SEC schools in recent years have opened up with Clemson, Virginia Tech, USC, and others.

While it won't make a difference in Ole Miss' situation this year, the NCAA again stole repetitions from a player and a team that, in Houston Nutt's mind, is competing for an SEC or national title.
I was wrong, and I was right.

I was wrong in thinking that no matter who was playing quarterback for Ole Miss this year, they were going to start the year 5-0. What I SHOULD of said was that it wouldn't have mattered as long as Ole Miss KNEW who was going to be the quarterback. Big difference.

You can join Mark May and all the other moral soapbox folks as they fling Holy water on Nutt, Masoli, and Ole Miss, proclaiming that the Rebels deserved what they got. You try and skirt the rules, and this is what you get.

And talk like that is garbage. Ole Miss' loss to Jacksonville State can be all chalked up to a lack of repetitions in game week, as well as Ole Miss altering what they wanted to accomplish on Saturday. I'm sure that Nutt had intended to win the game, but because of all the last minute eligibility changes (he is, he isn't, he is...), the Rebels were put into a terrible spot.

Perhaps it would of been better had Ole Miss not played Masoli at all this opening week, even after winning the appeal on Friday. They had planned from Tuesday on to have Stanley as the #1 guy, and hope for the best.

If you want to criticize Nutt on this point, that's fair game. Definitely a possible miscalculation. Stanley even played well in his split time with Masoli: 6 of 10, 133 yards, and 3 TDs - which indicates to me that Ole Miss was good enough to beat Jacksonville State... If they hadn't had this turmoil.

I'm sure that Nutt felt pressure to play Masoli, as there was so much publicity and contention in having him at Ole Miss. Houston probably just wanted to hurry up and get him on the field, because once he's on the field and plays well - the nay-sayers disappear quickly.

And this is where I was right. The NCAA's decision to enact their moral compass and explore the "academic motivations" behind Masoli's transfer - without any precedence - threw Ole Miss into a tailspin this week, and Houston couldn't steer them out of it.

The NCAA's inaccurate ruling on Tuesday changed how Ole Miss prepared for this ballgame. No matter what Houston Nutt may say publicly in reference to the confidence he may have in Nathan Stanley, Masoli is Houston's guy. This was proven to me in the overtime periods: despite Nathan Stanley throwing for 3 TDs and getting the majority of reps this past week, Houston felt that Masoli gave him the best chance to win in crunch time.

I also wrote this earlier this week:
Before the NCAA determines when it is appropriate to enact their moral compass, it might be a good idea to acknowledge what the rules are - before they really screw up a football season.
Spoke too soon. Because this time, they did screw one up. Ole Miss may or may not recover from this weekend, but I'm sure that Dan Mullen and crew are loving the fact that they can point at the first weekend of the 2010 season and tell recruits that while the Bulldogs were embarrassing Larry Porter's Memphis Tigers, the Ole Miss Rebels were busy losing to an FCS school that ranks as the 6th or 7th football program in its state.

Ole Miss fans, I feel for you on this one. There's a fair amount of blame to go around on this one, but be sure to toss some the NCAA's way. They helped screw up your season.