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Sprints Welcomes Jeremiah Masoli and Wonders Why Derek Dooley Won't Release Bryce Brown // 08.02.10

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SEC 2010: It's Florida Week
Everything you want to know about the team that no longer includes Tim Tebow. In case you missed our last two posts from Georgia/Arkansas week -- they went up late Sunday-ish -- the obligatory Mark Richt hot seat post is here and the place for you to vote on what you expect from the two teams is here.


It's official
Surprising no one, Jeremiah Masoli is going to walk on to the Ole Miss Rebels and major in ... well, we'll get to that in a moment. The quarterback-blogger posts on his website:

I am very excited about this opportunity and very thankful Ole Miss is giving me this chance. I really want to thank Coach Nutt for believing in me. ...

This trip made me realize that competition isn't the only thing that is hot in the Southeast. After growing up in the Bay Area, I've got to get used to the Mississippi heat.

There's a bit of a heat wave going on, Jeremiah. It'll probably be, oh, two or three degrees cooler most of the time.

The degree: Parks and Recreation Management
Do I even really need to write anything here?

Houston Nutt's reaction
As only Houston Nutt could put it:

"I told him, 'Darned, you’re smart, but you’re dumb.’ He said, `I want to prove to you I’m smart, I want to prove to you I’ve got good character.’ I said, `You’ve got a funny way of showing that.’ " ...

"I told him, `Look, I don’t have a career record of recruiting criminals,’ " Nutt said. "I said, `Do you realize I’ve got my career on the line? I got eyes on me for taking a thug, that’s what people are saying. You’ve got to be able to handle it and be a positive kid.’ "

First of all, let's give the guy a chance to prove his character. Of course, you're free to jump to whatever conclusions you want to, and rivals probably will jump to the obvious ones. Thug, criminal, etc. And there are no doubt questions about who Masoli is.

But he's in Oxford now, and nothing is really going to change that. There's no reason, other than rivalry, not to give the kid an opportunity to prove us all wrong.

The Clarion-Ledger goes optimistic, floating the idea that Masoli doesn't just help the Rebels but could have changed the last-place votes in the SEC Media Days poll.

If Masoli comes to Oxford, the Rebels suddenly have a bona fide playmaker who can spread the field with his running ability and make speedsters like Jesse Grandy, Korvic Neat and Brandon Bolden more dangerous. ...

Would the media still have picked Ole Miss last if Masoli had been on the roster? Maybe not.

Being a bit more optimistic than the media poll was about the Rebels, I don't know whether it would have changed the expectations for Ole Miss or not. But it's probably wise to wait until Masoli goes through his first practice before we go predicting how much that will change the Rebels' prospects.


Dooley won't allow Bryce Brown to transfer, doesn't seem to have a reason why
I want to like Derek Dooley, in part because he has a classic SEC name and in part because of the coach he replaced in Knoxville. But he's making it incredibly hard. Exhibit A: His unwillingness to release Bryce Brown, to no discernible effect.

"I have a lot of respect for Bryce as a person and a player," Dooley said. "This is a professional decision, not a personal one."

Except that it is a personal one for Brown -- who simply wants to move closer to home and play with his brother -- and I have tried and cannot figure out any professional reason for it.

Dooley said he makes decisions on who to release based on three criteria: what was the player's personal investment into the program; what harm the player's departure would cause the program; and how the player handled the situation as a person.

Which is all well and good, except that there's only one of those standards that has anything to do with Tennessee football: The harm caused to the program. All the others might be nice personal qualities, but they don't really help Tennessee in the least when the player is determined not to play for Tennessee (and Brown is).

Then there's this, which makes absolutely no sense:

"Bryce met with Coach Dooley on Saturday for about 30 minutes and Dooley asked him not to tell anyone they talked," Arthur Brown said. "I'm really not sure why."

Dooley acknowleged he met with Brown on Saturday but said he was not asked for a release.

Then what difference does it make if the meeting was mentioned in the media or not? It doesn't change Dooley's contention that Brown should "meet him like a man" and ask for a release. And from the way Dooley is acting -- "I'm not releasing him" -- I don't really know why Brown would make the request anyway.

Bryce Brown has been criticized for not meeting with Dooley again before leaving Knoxville. Arthur Brown said he purchased an airline ticket for Bryce to return to Knoxville this Thursday but that Dooley texted, "No need to come back out here."

Dooley said that was accurate.

In other words, his mind is made up and he's not releasing Brown. Even though there is no chance that Brown will go back to Tennessee for any purpose other than getting his release.

I want to make a point that all the information I've used here from the ESPN story has been confirmed in some fashion by Dooley. This is not taking the Brown family's word for it. And still it paints Dooley as vindictive and willing to use one of Tennessee's scholarships (not that they really have a shortage, but that's another story entirely) for no other reason than to prove a point.

Is a stretch to say that the move sounds a little Kiffinesque?

That's one way to describe it
Rocky Top Talk:

This story does once again confirm the notion that Dooley plays things close to the vest, having met with Brown on Saturday but denying it in the media.

The sentence also could have been written: "This story does confirm the notion that Dooley has no problem with lying ..."

Dr. Saturday is baffled
And, as you can probably guess, I can't really blame him.

Dooley's insistence on denying Brown's transfer also seems petty, even moreso than when he required offensive lineman Aaron Douglas to transfer at least an eight-hour drive from Knoxville before he'd grant Douglas' release earlier this year. Kansas State and Tennessee aren't scheduled to play one another over the next three years.

That's the biggest part of this to me: If Brown is not going to be on the Tennessee team, and he's made it clear he won't and Dooley has made it clear he doesn't expect Brown to be on the team -- how does it hurt Tennessee to let Bryce Brown go? It's not going to get Brown back to Knoxville, so the only purpose can be revenge: If he won't attend Tennessee on scholarship, he won't attend any school on scholarship. Which is what you would expect from a fan just looking to "show him a thing or two."

But head coaches are supposed to be above that sort of thing. And they're supposed to look out for their programs, not their egos.


Pouncey: 'It's not true'
The denial in this case leaves little room for the kind of parsing some (including your humble correspondent) had undertaken with Maurkice Pouncey's lawyer's original denial. More relevant perhaps for the purposes of Florida fans is what else Pouncey said about the status of the inquiry.

"They went through a whole investigation and couldn't find anything," Pouncey said. "It's almost (over). They couldn't find anything. I am just happy that everybody said it wasn't true. I am just happy everybody could just see it."

If that's true -- an investigation showing no wrongdoing is almost complete -- it looks like one chapter of AgentGate could be quickly closed.

NCAA considering agent rule change
There are two sides on this one, and I'm really not sure which one I'm on. One side says that allowing agents to advise players without providing any benefits would help bring those conversations into the limelight. The other side is that changing the rules would allow legal cover for wrongdoing, and make the rules even harder to enforce.

South Carolina loses reserve corner
Jay Spearman gets a medical hardship from the NCAA. If there's any position South Carolina is deep at historically, it's defensive back.

Fan or not?
Someone took a sign honoring Mark Ingram's Heisman Trophy in Michigan for reasons passing understanding. (HT: Roll Bama Roll)

This is almost sad
Jevan Snead has been released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Whoever gave him the advice that led him to declare for the draft betrayed his trust, unless his own arrogance mislead him. Here's hoping he gets back in the game somehow.

Moreno could miss Broncos camp
He injured himself catching a pass, though there's no indication it was because he tried to vault over another player.

Why, exactly?
Part of winning any debate is being honest about your opponents. And while I'm no fan of a college football playoff, BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock isn't helping any playoff critic by pretending the BCS is the only alternative or by using nonsense like what he said at MAC Media Day. (Yes, they have one.)

Hancock also said -- while not in favor of a playoff system for college football -- any potential playoff system would have to include 16 teams.

"A 16-team playoff in the only way to have a playoff because it would include all of the conferences." he said.

Really? Part of your argument about a playoff is that it would have to have 16 teams to "include all the conferences." I realize you're playing to the MAC crowd there, but the size of the field is going to be dictated by the necessity of having the Sun Belt champion take part?

Even so, there are 11 teams. You could do a 12-team playoff and still get every champion in. And even if you went to 16 teams to get more at-large berths, there would still be plenty of valid complaints about Troy getting into the brackets ahead of almost any ranked team in the country.

Lane Kiffin, Jedi Master
If I ever had an interview with Lane Kiffin -- and I'm not waiting by the phone -- I would ask him how he makes people believe the same things over and over despite all evidence to the contrary. The latest example from SBN's Southern Cal blog, Conquest Chronicles: "Lane Kiffin Knows Exactly what he is doing." Where have I heard that before?