There’s been so much back-and-forth between Ole Miss, Michigan and former quarterback Shea Patterson that you’d be forgiven thinking that the Rebels’ actual NCAA case itself was all over as far as the school was concerned. That certainly isn’t accurate of course and one of the final steps for the program to learn their fate could be set for release in the next few hours or days.
Per Jackson Clarion-Ledger Ole Miss beat writer Antonio Morales, Ole Miss has received a response on their appeal from the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and will soon publish a response after lawyers have had a chance to work through it.
The Rebels had appealed to have their 2018 postseason ban overturned and restrictions on official visits lifted, among other things. The school does have 14 days to respond to the decision but appeals in general are rarely successful and the extra bit of arguing tends to be nothing but extra billable hours for lawyers working on the case.
Depending on the outcome, that should just about wrap things up in Oxford after the school was found to have lacked institutional control in the football program after numerous violations under former head coach Hugh Freeze. Ole Miss remains involved in the waiver appeal of former players like Patterson but this could very well be a closing of the books on a rather turbulent few years of back-and-forth with the NCAA.
If the tension between Ole Miss and Michigan-bound quarterbacks transfer Shea Patterson wasn’t already made clear, a letter from Patterson did not hold back his seething comments about his former university in an explanation to the NCAA hoping to help his cause. Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze was just one of Patterson’s targets.
Patterson suggested Freeze was not the man he claimed to be and believes Ole Miss has taken measures designed specifically to prevent certain players from leaving the program via transfer. Patterson is just one player attempting to move on from the program for a new college football home that is battling to gain eligibility for the upcoming fall rather than sit out a full season as per typical NCAA transfer rules.
“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, as reported by Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports.
Patterson is transferring to Michigan, but his eligibility status being left up in the air to be determined has left uncertainty about what will happen in Ann Arbor. If Patterson is granted immediate eligibility, he would likely step right into the starting job for the Wolverines. But with Ole Miss holding up the transfer process with regard to his eligibility status, things have gotten dicey for all parties involved.
Patterson’s lawyer also put Ole Miss on full blast in this ongoing battle and war of words. We have not seen the end of this one yet.
Just like nobody puts Baby in the corner, nobody puts Nick Saban in one either.
Earlier this week, a report surfaced that the SEC had essentially blocked member schools, including mighty Alabama, from hiring Hugh Freeze. It was reported in January that Saban had been “really pushing” for the disgraced former Ole Miss head coach to be added to his Crimson Tide coaching staff, but that the conference was highly reluctant to sign off on it.
In the wake of the most recent report on Freeze’s non-hiring, Saban was asked about its validity. In classic Saban fashion, he spoke of the respect he has for both Freeze and the SEC while seemingly, in a roundabout way, confirming that the league did indeed coach-block a hire due “to circumstances that people created for themselves.”
From al.com‘s transcription of Saban’s comments during an appearance at a fundraiser in Mobile Tuesday night:
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Hugh Freeze as a coach. I think he did a fabulous job when he was at Ole Miss. He has been a friend that I’ve shared ideas with and spent time with and know his family, as Miss Terry does know his family. So we have a tremendous amount of respect for him. We also have a lot of respect for the SEC and what they think is, in some cases, best for the league relative to circumstances that people created for themselves.
But I have a lot of respect for Hugh, and I think he’ll be back in our profession, and we wish him and his family the very best, and if we can do anything to help him, we’ll be happy to do that.
Freeze “resigned” from Ole Miss after it was discovered he was using a school-issued cell phone to hook up with escort services on multiple occasions. Additionally, there were the Rebels’ NCAA issues while Freeze was in charge that left the coach with a two-game suspension to serve; that suspension would not have to be served if Freeze is a coordinator or position coach. The one-year show-cause Freeze was slapped with, which would impact him on the recruiting trail as a head coach, would not be in effect as well if he served in a non-head coach capacity.
Michigan may have cancelled their spring game on Wednesday but the Wolverines are still locked into a far more interesting off-field matchup against the NCAA and, now, Ole Miss to get quarterback Shea Patterson eligible for the 2018 season.
It was reported earlier this week that the Rebels are not onboard with the signal-caller being eligible right away in Ann Arbor and are actively opposing his appeal to suit up for this upcoming season. That isn’t sitting well with Patterson’s attorney, Thomas Mars, who talked with the Detroit News and used some rather colorful and descriptive language to blast what the SEC program is doing in this instance.
“If I didn’t know better, I would have thought Ole Miss hired Pinocchio to write its response to Michigan’s waiver request,” Mars said. “What’s more, the misleading statements to the sports media that Ole Miss publicly apologized for six months ago were the same misleading statements that Shea and a dozen other players and their parents say Ole Miss was telling them at the same time — both in person and over the phone.”
There’s a lot more in that story from Mars, who has also done battle publicly and privately with Ole Miss while representing Houston Nutt among others. Patterson has been practicing with the Wolverines this spring in anticipation of getting his waiver approved, hinging most of his argument over being lied to by Hugh Freeze and others about potential NCAA sanctions that were eventually handed out to the program. At the very least the signal-caller will be able to suit up for the 2019 season but both he and his attorney are hoping not to wait that long before donning the maize and blue.
If there’s some cosmic justice, we’ll somehow get an Ole Miss vs. Michigan bowl game in the not too distant future where both sides can take out their frustrations from this case on the other. It seems doubtful we’ll actually end up getting that given the state of both football programs so instead this war of words will have to do.
Ole Miss is blocking Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson‘s appeal for immediate eligibility, Dennis Dodd of CBSSports reported Monday evening. The Rebels had three options in regards to Patterson’s transfer: to support the move, to oppose it or to remain neutral.
The Rebels are not blocking Patterson’s transfer — Patterson is enrolled at U of M and practicing with the Wolverines — but instead his appeal to skip the requisite year-in-residence so he could compete immediately. Patterson’s grounds for immediate eligibility is that he was lied to by former Rebels coach Hugh Freeze about the nature and seriousness of the NCAA violations Ole Miss committed under Freeze.
One source close to the case said, according to Dodd, that the scope of the investigation as characterized by Freeze was “a flat-out, deliberate lie.” Patterson is one of six former Rebels seeking a waiver, but he is viewed as the most significant because of his talents to play the position and Michigan’s subsequent title hopes for 2018 should Patterson obtain immediate eligibility. A former 5-star recruit, Patterson threw for 8.7 yards per attempt on 63.8 percent passing with 17 touchdowns against nine interceptions as a true sophomore in 2017.
Wilton Speight has opened the possibility of reversing his transfer should Patterson not gain eligibility this fall.
Should Patterson lose his appeal, he would be guaranteed eligibility for the 2019 season. He has two years of eligibility remaining.