With the start of college football season almost a month away, one of the hot rumors circulating through all the sports networks and blog sites is that Jeremiah Masoli is looking to transfer to Ole Miss.
The former Oregon quarterback, who led the Ducks to a Pac-10 championship and a Rose Bowl berth, was suspended for the 2010 season by Oregon head coach Chip Kelly after being charged and subsequently convicted on misdemeanor burglary.
Three months later, Masoli was dismissed from the team after a citation for marijuana possession.
Fast-forward to a few days ago: Ole Miss quarterback Raymond Cotton leaves the team to go to South Alabama's startup football program. This leaves Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt in a bind, as he only has two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster—sophomore Nathan Stanley and JUCO transfer Randall Mackey.
The announcement of Cotton's departure came with the news that Masoli sent Ole Miss his scholarship release papers, meaning if Coach Nutt will allow it, Masoli will be eligible to transfer to Ole Miss, provided he enrolls in a graduate program Oregon does not offer.
Everyone knows the guy has a criminal record, but his on-field exploits are nothing to laugh at. I can immediately think of four benefits he would bring to the Ole Miss squad.
Benefit No. 1: Production
Masoli was the West Coast version of Tim Tebow, as he completed 177 of 305 passes for 2,147 yards and 15 passing touchdowns, while adding 668 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. Projected starting quarterback Nathan Stanley has completed only 11 passes for 163 yards.
Benefit No. 2: Starting experience
Masoli started 22 games at Oregon, leaving last year's game against Washington State due to injury. Stanley has only seen mop-up duty, and Randall Mackey has yet to play a down.
Even more important is that Masoli has started big games such as the USC and Arizona games in which the opposing teams were ranked and a rivalry game against Oregon State that happened to be the de facto Pac-10 championship game. Oregon won all those games.
Benefit No. 3: Playmaking ability
Perhaps the best thing about Jeremiah Masoli is the fact he can make plays that no one expects to be there. (Watch the game tape from the Oregon-USC game and you'll know what I mean.)
Ole Miss sorely needs a playmaker after losing Dexter McCluster, and Masoli would provide that for them. He will be a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators to game-plan for because of his dual-threat nature. It would be like trying to game-plan for Tim Tebow.
Benefit No. 4: Helping young starters grow
The Ole Miss offense has only two people who started games last year returning, and that is both offensive tackles, Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie. The rest of the offense is very green but talented.
Having a veteran like Masoli will help the young starters grow into their roles and make life easier for them. He will take pressure off the offensive line due to his mobility, he will put the ball in the right spots for the receivers and tight ends, and he'll develop a good rapport with the running backs.
I truly believe Houston Nutt should take a chance on Masoli and allow him to come to Ole Miss. Before all of this news, I was expecting Ole Miss to not even make a bowl game. Ole Miss's defense is good enough to contend for a bowl game, and possibly more. The offense was going to be the one thing holding them back from a third consecutive bowl game.
I can see them easily making a bowl game if Masoli joins the squad, and possibly making some noise in the SEC West.
What does Houston Nutt have to lose?