Ole Miss’ Houston Nutt talks Masoli for first time
Mississippi coach Houston Nutt said Friday he has a
zero-tolerance contract with new quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.
Nutt spoke about the former Oregon player for the first time as
the Rebels newcomers and freshmen reported for training camp.
Unexpectedly down a quarterback with just a few weeks to preseason
practice, Nutt says he wasn’t convinced he could trust Masoli until
he brought him to campus last weekend.
”You have an obligation to this organization and that’s what I
felt,” Nutt said. ”After weighing everything out, especially
after we got him here on an official visit, got Jeremiah here,
looking him in the eyes, and he understood. I’ll have a contract
with him. He understands it will be zero tolerance and he has to do
Masoli will join the team as a walk-on and can play this season
if the NCAA approves a waiver request. Masoli, who won’t talk to
the media until at least Monday, was thought to be a Heisman Trophy
candidate before Oregon coach Chip Kelly kicked him off the team
after his second brush with the law in six months.
The Rebels became interested in Masoli after losing backup
quarterback Raymond Cotton, who transferred to South Alabama just
two weeks before preseason practice began. That left Nutt thin at
quarterback and more willing to gamble that Masoli can be trusted
to stay out of trouble.
Nutt said he spoke with the quarterback and his mother, did his
research and sat down with athletic director Pete Boone to make a
”I just felt like this was important and the right thing to do
at this time,” Nutt said. ”You can always argue both ways and I
understand that. I’ve got to be oblivious to that. I have to be
focused about our team and the players. Sometimes that doesn’t
always feel good, it’s not a feel-good decision. But I do feel good
If cleared to play by the NCAA, Masoli seems a perfect fit for
Nutt’s Wild Rebel offense and could challenge starter Nate Stanley
for his job. Nutt was content to use multiple quarterbacks the past
two seasons at Ole Miss, alternating between dropback passer Jevan
Snead and more shifty running backs.
Masoli guided the Ducks last season to their first Pac-10 title
since 2001 and their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1995. The
5-foot-11, 220-pounder is a two-year starter who threw for 2,147
yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 668 yards and 13 touchdowns
Nutt said he has spoken with Stanley and the team’s only other
scholarship quarterback, junior college transfer Randall Mackey,
about bringing in Masoli. He said Stanley, a redshirt sophomore,
was receptive to the idea, especially after being injured during
spring practice and missing time.
The coach also said he had the support of the team’s
”I feel like we have enough good going on in our locker room,
we have enough leadership, guys like Jerrell Powe and Kentrell
Lockett and Johnny Brown, Lawon Scott, Jonathan Cornell,” Nutt
said. ”I feel good about these guys that are leaders and the
heartbeat of our team and they also were very adamant about having
another guy like that in our program.”
Along with the positive feedback, Nutt has received criticism
for the move. Masoli pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of
misdemeanor second-degree burglary for his role in a theft at an
Oregon fraternity in January. He was suspended for the 2010 season,
though Kelly allowed him to practice during spring drills. But
Kelly kicked Masoli off the team after the senior was cited for
possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and driving on a
suspended license after a traffic stop in June.
Masoli launched his own website, www.jeremiahmasoli.net, to
combat what he said were misconceptions about his behavior and
successfully convinced Nutt he can be trusted. Not everyone else
agrees. But Nutt’s not paying attention to them.
”I don’t listen to too much outside,” Nutt said. ”I listen to
really what’s inside our program, inside this building, our
coaches, players, our families. It’s more that family, and it’s