Ole Miss' first kickoff against Jacksonville State is still roughly 24 hours away, so it's entirely possible the situation could somehow change again. But as of this afternoon, three days after denying quarterback Jeremiah Masoli a waiver to play for Ole Miss this season, the NCAA says Masoli can play, after all:
University of Mississippi football student-athlete Jeremiah Masoli may compete immediately, according to a decision today by the NCAA Division I Subcommittee for Legislative Relief. The subcommittee’s decision overturns the staff decision to grant the graduate student transfer waiver with the condition that Masoli could not compete until the 2011-12 academic year.
According to NCAA rules, created by member schools, football graduate student-athletes must receive a waiver in order to compete if they enroll at a university other than where they received their undergraduate degree.
Yeah, sorry about all that, man. So does this mean they're not doing the t-shirts now?
Masoli, of course, completed his undergraduate degree at Oregon in July, four months after being suspended for the season for pleading guilty to second-degree burglary of a frat house, and just weeks after being booted for good following another arrest on a traffic stop.
Dedicated people-helper that he is, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt decided to overturn his own decision not to pursue Masoli and instead assist in his efforts to enroll in Ole Miss' graduate Parks and Recreation program – where, coincidentally, he would be immediately eligible to help upgrade the grim projections for the Rebels' quarterback situation in the wake of backup Raymond Cotton's sudden transfer a few days earlier. All he needed was a waiver. Which he now has. For now.
Assuming this is, in fact, the all-caps FINAL DECISION, it's safe to assume Masoli will see plenty of time Saturday against the outmanned Gamecocks, whether or not he starts or takes a majority of the snaps over sophomore Nathan Stanley (who no doubt has enjoyed the passion with which Rebel fans have tacitly insinuated over the last month that they think he's going to suck).
The question remains, though, how the offense will adjust for his comfort zone as a runner, and how he'll adjust himself: The zone read and spread-option looks Masoli rode to stardom at Oregon are a far cry from the more conventional, pro-style sets Ole Miss has run the last two years with pocket-bound slinger Jevan Snead under center (literally under center most of the time, whereas Masoli has worked almost exclusively from the shotgun), and expected to run again this year with Stanley. It should be easy enough to extend a token "competition" against JSU, Tulane and Vanderbilt before things start to get a little hairy against Fresno State and Kentucky. But go ahead and bet that Masoli is entrenched before the Oct. 16 trip to Alabama, before it gets take off the board again.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.