QB Shea Patterson is transferring to Michigan from Mississippi, giving Jim Harbaugh a former top-5 recruit at his disposal. The next question now centers around when Patterson will be eligible to play.
Normally, transfers have to sit out a season before making their debuts at new schools. However, a two-year bowl ban for Ole Miss means rising seniors can transfer from the team without having to sit out a season. But Patterson just finished his sophomore season. He has two years of eligibility remaining, and might have to sit out a season before being able to see the field in Ann Arbor.
However, there are avenues Patterson can explore to get on the field right away for Michigan. He told The Toledo Blade’s Kyle Rowland:
“From what I’m hearing, I’m pretty sure that I will win that and be able to play next year. If I don’t, I’ll work as hard as I can learning the offense and I’ll be playing the year after.”
Here’s what Patterson probably means by that
Players seeking transfers without having to spend a year on the sidelines can fill out waivers to with the NCAA. Over at SB Nation, Alex Kirshner asked the NCAA what avenues Patterson could explore to gain eligibility without having to sit out the 2018 season. Here’s what an NCAA spokeswoman wrote:
Schools can submit waivers to the national office if they believe there are special circumstances that warrant an exception to the rule, such as some sort of abuse at the prior school. Because we cannot contemplate every type of mitigation that may be presented, these are considered on a case-by-case basis by the staff. There is always an appeal opportunity to a committee of members if the school does not agree with the waiver decision.
The key terms here seem to be “case-by-case basis” and “special circumstances that warrant an exception to the rule.” Michigan would have to submit the waiver to the NCAA on Patterson’s behalf, something it will likely do if it has not already.
Patterson might not be the only Mississippi player transferring to Michigan. These same circumstances *could* apply to his teammates as well
From his interview with Rowland:
“When Patterson was asked if he would be the only Ole Miss player on Michigan’s roster come week’s end, he chuckled and responded, ‘That’s doubtful.'”
Van Jefferson and Deontay Anderson, both former blue-chip recruits, were reportedly scheduled to visit with Patterson when he came to Ann Arbor over the weekend. We don’t know specifics here, but it stands to reason that if Patterson is ruled eligible, Michigan could use the same argument to rule that other Ole Miss transfers should be immediately eligible as well.
However, no other Mississippi players have publicly announced their intentions to transfer to Michigan, so we won’t know the full scope of any of this until it’s clear who is involved.