Houston Nutt's Biggest Mistake Yet: The Case of Jeremiah Masoli

Mark Scacewater@ScaceH20Analyst IAugust 6, 2010

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli #8 of the Oregon Ducks runs with the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 96th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

By now, most college football enthusiasts know the story of former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.

A JUCO transfer-turned-Heisman Trophy candidate, the darling of Eugene, Oregon. That was his Cinderella story before a series of run-ins with the law caught up to him.

Now Masoli, recently booted from the Ducks football team, will walk on in the SEC at Ole Miss for Coach Houston Nutt.

This story is unfortunate on multiple levels.

We have the obvious problem: a college athlete breaks the law and is given a second chance at a traditional SEC power.

That in and of itself does not send a strong message to other athletes that obeying the law is a good thing. Rather, it seems to convey the message that if you mess up, a coach somewhere is desperate and will give you a chance.

But this story is eerily similar to just a few years back when Ole Miss, then coached by Ed Orgeron, accepted troubled yet talented quarterback Brent Schaeffer.

Schaeffer, along with freshman Erik Ainge, were the first true freshmen to start at quarterback in the vaunted SEC. It was not long before Schaeffer got himself into trouble, was asked to leave the Tennessee Volunteer program, and made a name for himself in the junior college ranks.


Orgeron, with no obvious quarterback at Ole Miss, took a chance on Schaeffer. Two pedestrian seasons later, Orgeron was out of a job and Schaeffer went undrafted.

Schaeffer was able to behave himself, but how could Coach Nutt not look at his predecessor and realize the mistake Orgeron made by taking in the troubled Schaeffer.

In college sports, I think most of us understand there is intense pressure to win now.

But as a head coach building a program, why not invest in a younger quarterback, who can behave, and win in the long-term?

Let's assume Masoli does well this season. Ole Miss is not going to win the SEC. Masoli will graduate, then next season they are back to step one.

Masoli also was a bit of a system phenomenon, flourishing in Oregon's wide open offense. He is a tremendous talent and probably has a future in the NFL as a receiver or returner.

The problem with this match is Nutt has always been a ground based coach, and who can blame him with the likes of Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, and most recently, Dexter McCluster?

Ole Miss may have a respectable eight win season and another Cotton Bowl berth, but Coach Nutt should and will lose a ton of respect around the country for taking in Masoli under these circumstances.

As an Oregon grad and avid fan, I am not saying Masoli does not deserve a chance somewhere. I just think when you allow him into a major program in the nation's best football conference, there is a problem with the purity of college football.

Hopefully, Masoli goes to Oxford and Coach Nutt has a positive influence on him.

However, it remains unfortunate that elite college athletes can run afoul of the law and still wind up starting for major college football programs.