Michigan Gets A New Quarterback, But Can He Play Next Year?
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh landed a prime quarterback in Mississippi transfer Shea Patterson. But what are the chances Patterson will be eligible to play for the Wolverines in 2018?
But current NCAA transfer rules say Patterson would have to sit out a year before playing a Michigan. So why are people applauding Harbaugh's latest acquisition?
Because there's a loophole that may allow Patterson to play next season.
Here's the deal:
The Mississippi coach, Hugh Freeze, who recruited Patterson and seven other players seeking transfers, was found to have violated NCAA rules and the college was punished by being banned from playing in the postseason in 2018.
According to NCAA transfer rules, seniors who would miss playing in the post season could transfer and be immediately eligible at their new schools. However, Patterson and safety Deontay Anderson would have to sit out next season before playing at their new schools because they each have two years of eligibility left.
However, Anderson is suing Mississippi, claiming he was misled by coaches about how severe any penalties would be. He is also petitioning the NCAA to play immediately, claiming coaches who actually committed the violations leading to the penalties aren't prevented from taking jobs with new schools and can coach immediately next season, while players, who had nothing to do with the infractions are punished by having to sit out a season.
He's got a point. As one ESPN announcer pointed out, Hugh Freeze could coach Michigan's offense next year, but Patterson couldn't play for the Wolverines. It hardly seems fair.
But fair has never been part of the NCAA's vocabulary, and players have been screwed in the past by the transfer rule.
One recent exception was Penn State, who faced severe penalties after the Jerry Sandusky pedophile scandal which rocked that institution. All Penn State players were granted an immediate waiver and the right to transfer to any school of their choosing without penalty.
It's hard to say at this point whether Patterson will be granted an exception to play next year, but it's clear Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is gambling that he will. Harbaugh will enter 2018 with two inexperienced quarterbacks, redshirt freshman Brandon Peters and true freshman (although he will gain a redshirt after sitting out this season) Dylan McCaffrey.
Peters started three games down the stretch with mediocre results before being injured against Wisconsin. He will start for Michigan in the Outback Bowl on January 1. McCaffrey didn't see any action.
Patterson, meanwhile, tons of experience in the Southeast Conference. He has already thrown for over 3000 yards in 10 games, and he has thrown for over 300 yards in 7 of his 10 starts for Ole Miss.
Harbaugh coached QBs at Michigan have thrown for over 300 yards only 5 times in 38 games. That tells you all you need to know about why they are bringing him here.
But whether he'll play next season remains to be seen.