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Hell-raiser fits bill for College Nutt

Desperation makes people do things they wouldn't ordinarily do, especially football coaches in US football's Southeastern Conference, where the sport is a near-religious experience.

Take the University of Mississippi, where the football coach had no interest in a particular player with a chequered past until that same football coach was suddenly and unexpectedly faced with a dearth of depth at quarterback. Then, just like that, he was interested.

The Ole Miss coach, Houston Nutt, about a week ago said the Rebels had no interest in pursuing former University of Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who was dumped by the Ducks because of run-ins with the police. Seems Masoli could find trouble almost as well as holes in the defence.

Masoli pleaded guilty to a burglary charge in March and was tossed from the team after a marijuana possession charge ended with a guilty plea. He had a second chance -- and he blew it.

What makes this story so pathetic is that for Nutt, the lure of talent, coupled with the need for a quarterback, neutralises common sense.

"Rarely are there any talented players still available in the summertime," Nutt said.

Nutt's stance on crime, punishment and this particular passer surely changed after his main back-up at quarterback, Raymond Cotton, quit the team because he didn't win the starting job.

The departure leaves Ole Miss with just two quarterbacks, starter Nathan Stanley, who played in five games last season, and a junior college transfer who wasn't around for spring practice.

Enter Masoli, who during the 2009 season with Oregon completed 58pc of his passes for 2,147 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions.

What is it they say about a smart man and his own mistakes? Don't bother asking Masoli or Nutt, who clearly don't know the answer.

Here's a coach who last year took a chance on former Florida safety Jamar Hornsby, who was jettisoned by the Gators after his arrest for making charges on the credit card of a Florida student who had died six months earlier in a motorcycle accident.

About a month after his arrival at Ole Miss, Hornsby was booted from the team after he was indicted on a felony assault charge.

It's hard to believe that an institution of higher learning would allow its coach to demonstrate publicly that he hasn't learned a thing.

Masoli, according to a local newspaper, completed his undergraduate requirements at Oregon. In order to transfer to another school and play football, he'd have to enroll in a graduate programme that Oregon doesn't offer.

If Masoli wishes to pursue an advanced degree at Ole Miss, so be it. He should not, though, be allowed to represent the university by donning a football jersey. Rules permit Masoli to play at Ole Miss immediately.

What we have here is a big-time football coach who shares the same job description as most politicians: Keep your job. Even if that requires a public and pathetic flip-flop that gives an undeserving athlete his second chance.


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