UM mailbag: Patterson's eligibility, Winovich's future
The early signing period is wrapping up, and some of us are wrapping gifts. But it’s time for a Michigan mailbag, and for the first time in a long while, there are no questions about quarterbacks, who will be the starter and who might transfer.
There is one about Shea Patterson and his eligibility, so let’s get to it since I have more wrapping to do.
■ Question: What are the legal obstacles ahead of Patterson? Why are we so confident he gets to even play? — @michmike69
■ Answer: Mike, I had a story on this about a week ago after speaking to Thomas Mars, the attorney who represented Houston Nutt in his case against Ole Miss and who now is representing about a half-dozen Ole Miss players who are seeking immediately eligibility transfers.
Patterson, as we know, is in the Michigan fold. Mars said the NCAA, which currently is on break, probably won’t deliver a decision on the transfers and their immediately eligibility until late January or early February. What the NCAA must find — and if NCAA officials read Mars’ filings in the Nutt case, it should be a no-brainer — is whether Ole Miss acted with “egregious behavior” when it allegedly misled recruits about NCAA sanctions.
Ole Miss got a second bowl ban for the 2018 season on top of their self-imposed ban this year. If the NCAA agrees the athletes were misled and Ole Miss was guilty of egregious behavior, then there’s a strong possibility the transfer rule will be waived.
“At this point, there’s no room for Ole Miss to deny it unlawfully kept the NOA (NCAA Notice of Allegations) it had just received under wraps for five months while the school misled prospects and their parents about how the NCAA investigation would likely impact the future of the football program and the goals and dreams of the student-athletes who ended up signing with Ole Miss under false pretenses,” Mars told The Detroit News. “At its core, the question these transfer requests will present to the NCAA staff is whether a carefully planned and orchestrated misinformation campaign by a member institution, that involved standardized misrepresentations to the sports media and to an entire class of top-rated high school prospects and their parents — both over the phone, in their homes and during official visits — constitutes ‘egregious behavior’ within the meaning of the waiver rule.”
It is hard to predict what the NCAA will do, but there seems to be a great deal working in the favor of the transferring players.
■ Q. Is Chase gonna come back? — @derek_spaugy
■ A. Derek, I don’t know. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Chase Winovich has spoken to him about the course he will take — returning to Michigan for his final year of eligibility or departing for the NFL. Harbaugh said he will allow Winovich to make that announcement.
Before the football banquet, Winovich said he had been going back and forth as he considered his decision. Frankly, I think he should come back and build on what was a very strong season. He could be a leader on defense and on the team as a whole. Certainly he is weighing the advice of many he respects. He may see this as, how can he top this year? Maybe it’s time to strike the NFL fire while hot.
He’s certainly a guy who has had fun in college, and now he’s helping raise money for the ChadTough Foundation — he will be dying his hair orange for the bowl game after raising his goal of $15,000 (he wears No. 15).
■ Q. Is Toomer banished now? — @rmullen63
■ A. Richard, I don’t think so. Frankly, it’s not like Amani Toomer has made a lot of trips to Ann Arbor since his playing days, but regardless, that’s not the first time Harbaugh has been criticized — even by his own fellow former Michigan players — and won’t be the last. My hunch is Harbaugh either doesn’t care about this recent criticism from Toomer, or he does care and wants to know why he felt compelled to talk publicly. Harbaugh may even pick up the phone to chat with Toomer. What he said wasn’t strikingly different than what Harbaugh said at the football banquet about needing to get better, but it did feel a bit like listening to a guy who likes the sound of his own voice.
■ Q. Will Michigan football explore new technology like MVP (mobile virtual player) or cryotherapy? — @Theist313
■ A. Now that’s interesting Theus. I was at a Michigan State practice last spring and saw the mobile virtual player, which was really cool. I think a lot of smaller schools were using it because it cuts down on injuries. I don’t know that Michigan has that, and I also don’t know if they’ve used cryotherapy, although a lot of people swear by that.
Michigan is part of Nike’s group using some of the experimental fabrics and John Beliein said they use GPS technology to monitor the basketball players. So with that in mind, I would think Michigan would be open to various forms of technology that can improve endurance and health.
■ Q. Any updates on the weight room renovation project? — @StoneSaid
■ A. The weight room project and Oosterbaan renovation are supposed to be completed about this time next year. I had a chance to see a bit of the construction project in the summer, and it’s quite an undertaking. It was definitely needed, so really interested to see it as it comes to fruition.
■ Q. Have you heard where “Wilt” is transferring to? — @Pstangelo51
■ A. Don’t know, Paul, but I do love your use of “Wilt.” I keep thinking that Wilton Speight could be interested in reuniting with Jedd Fisch wherever Fisch lands, but certainly there is more to it than that, like which programs need a quarterback to step in right away. Perhaps a school like N.C. State?
■ Q. Any injuries going into the bowl game to monitor? — @bakingmom14
■ A. Michele, not that I’m aware. I have not heard of any new injuries, and it sounds like the guys who were hurt during the season are coming back finally.
■ Q. In how many languages is C-3PO fluent? — @theplayerthefan
■ A. Why must you bore all of us, Fan, with your silly questions? It’s obvious the Force is not with you.