Fourth in a series on departing seniors with memorable moments or careers in the SEC.
The general rule for appreciations is that they have to be a senior who saw significant playing time or was memorable for more than one season. We'll make an exception for Ole Miss quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. You almost have to.
In part because everything about Masoli's single year in Oxford was out of the ordinary. His recruitment to Ole Miss, when Houston Nutt went from vaguely interested to playing the Ed Orgeron to Masoli's Brent Schaeffer. His decision to major in parks and recreations, which pretty much proved that the whole thing was a charade based more on getting Masoli away from a suspension at Oregon than even the usual transfer. And a season that began with a spectacular implosion against Jacksonville State that showed why Nutt was hoping Masoli could play for his team. And that's even without the events that led to Masoli's suspension at Oregon that set up the entire mess to begin with.
Masoli blazed a trail through the NCAA rulebook that will likely be slammed shut as soon as possible. And the truth is that he was only really decent for Ole Miss in a year when the Rebels obviously needed something better to take over following Jevan Snead's regrettable bout of megalomania. His rating for the year was 121.11, which is a far sight from impressive. He had just one more TD (14) than he had interceptions (13). He did have a pretty good year running the ball with a 4.5 yard per carry average, which helped the one part of the Ole Miss offensive attack that actually worked.
But he could also disappear at inopportune times, like when he went 7-for-18 with three interceptions as Tennessee dismantled Mississippi, 52-14, in one of the most impressive games for the Vols in Derek Dooley's first season. Masoli's passer rating in that game was 42.88, which even folks who aren't fans of the rating can tell you isn't even mediocre, and Masoli picked up just 22 yards on seven rushes -- 17 of those yards on a single play.
Of course, there were also times when the defense or other players let Masoli down. He played exceptionally well at Arkansas, including 327 yards passing and 98 yards rushing, while the team lost by two touchdowns. And Masoli only attempted 10 passes and five runs in the loss against Jacksonville State, so you can hardly blame him for that game.
In the end, Jeremiah Masoli might be most remembered for what he proved in a year in which Cam Newton seemed to win a national championship almost singlehandedly: Teams matter. Masoli might not have gotten a chance to play on college football's biggest stage given his suspension at Oregon, but he would have at least been standing a lot closer to the spotlight than he was after a long fall in Oxford.
Jeremiah Masoli at Ole Miss, 2010