Michigan's Shea Patterson cites business decision for Ole Miss exit

Patterson is a 'huge score' for Michigan (0:38)

Marty Smith reports that Shea Patterson is focused on the upcoming season after he was deemed eligible to play for the Wolverines in 2018. (0:38)

LOS ANGELES -- Michigan Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson maintains that he left Ole Miss because he was misled by school officials and the coaching staff regarding NCAA violations within the football program.

Patterson, who served as a counselor at the Steve Clarkson Quarterback Retreat in Pacific Palisades over the weekend, told ESPN that he was "told for so long that there was no way" Ole Miss would receive a bowl ban for the 2018 season after the school imposed its postseason ban for the 2017 season.

"We had put together a really, really good group in the 2016 class and did everything we needed to do, and [Ole Miss] didn't do everything they needed to do," said Patterson, who in April was ruled by the NCAA eligible to play for Michigan immediately this fall. "Some things were left unsaid [about the NCAA investigation] that we didn't know about. They didn't think we were going to get the two-year bowl ban. At the end of the day, I wanted to do what was best for me and my career.

"I've learned that this is a business, and there's nothing wrong with that."

Patterson, who will be a junior this fall, transferred to Michigan from Ole Miss in December after the NCAA issued the postseason ban, hit the football program with scholarship reductions and suspended former head coach Hugh Freeze as part of the penalties handed down by the NCAA committee on infractions following a multiyear investigation into the school.

Because of the NCAA's rule that requires non-graduate transfers to sit out a year before playing, Patterson had to apply to be immediately eligible to play this season. However, Ole Miss officials didn't support Patterson's original request because they didn't believe his claim that Freeze tried to keep him and other players at Ole Miss last year by lying about the seriousness of the NCAA's potential punishment for the school after its investigation.

In late April, the NCAA decided to waive its non-graduate transfer rule for Patterson. Michigan and Ole Miss worked together to create a new waiver request that they agreed was accurate and used a new NCAA amendment that takes a player's academic standing into consideration when the player applies to play immediately.

"It was tough [to leave Ole Miss]," Patterson said. "Once it came out that I was transferring, there were a lot of other people's sides of things, and it's tough waking up every day for those four months that everything was going on, not knowing if I was going to play football, the one thing I love doing. A lot of stress was relieved and taken off my shoulders a few weeks ago, so I'm happy to have that.

"I can deal with having a chance of not getting [to a national championship], but not having a chance at all, I can't deal with that. I put myself in the best situation to succeed and have a better college career."

Patterson started 10 games for the Rebels in two seasons. He went 4-6 in that span, throwing for 3,139 yards, 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. A knee injury ended Patterson's 2017 season after just seven games.

Ole Miss went just 3-4 with Patterson behind center 2017, but he said the NCAA cloud hanging over the program and the unceremonious resignation of Freeze last July proved to be distractions too big for the Rebels to overcome.

Freeze resigned after school officials found a pattern of phone calls to a number associated with a female escort service.

"I love Coach Freeze, but I just wish things had gone differently," Patterson said. "That ultimately affected us as a team. We could only keep it together so much."

Patterson, who found out he was eligible to play this season one day before the Wolverines went on a team-sponsored trip to Paris, said he's hitting the reset button at Michigan.

He calls Michigan "probably the best team I've been around." Of all the programs he considered transferring to, he felt the Wolverines had the best chance to compete for a national championship in his last two years of eligibility.

Patterson is also changing his look, switching from the unorthodox No. 20 he wore at Ole Miss to the more quarterback-friendly No. 2. Patterson wore No. 20 in honor of his grandfather, who wore the same number as a member of the Detroit Pistons in the late 1960s, but felt with a new home, he needed a new identity.

He expects that number change to conjure more comparisons to another popular No. 2 in college football: former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. With a similar playing style to Manziel's, Patterson said he has been linked to the former Texas A&M signal-caller before and has caught himself emulating Johnny Football in games from time to time.

"I watched him all throughout high school and admired everything he did [on the field at Texas A&M]," Patterson said. "I've watched a lot of highlight tapes, and sometimes I see me out there doing some stuff that he does. I'm excited. I think 2 looks better on me."