After months of dragging their feet, the NCAA finally made a decision on Drew Ott's request for a medical waiver:
Can confirm. Drew Ott’s appeal for a medical hardship waiver has been denied by the NCAA. An NFL team will get a helluva deal.— marcmorehouse (@marcmorehouse) April 13, 2016
While the decision isn't a huge shock, it is a tremendous disappointment. Ott played sparingly in his final year in Iowa City. After injuring his elbow he played very few snaps in the first half of the season before tearing his ACL and effectively ending his career. While he technically played in more than 30% of the games, Ott was appealing on the grounds that his snaps were so limited.
The NCAA has once again displayed its complete disregard for the well being of the players that earn them millions of dollars and give them a reason to exist. Letting Drew have a fifth year would have been giving him something he wanted while not hurting anybody at all (except maybe the hearts of Nebraska fans and the bones of Nebraska players). The real crime here, however, was taking four months to reach a decision.
The same organization that decided overnight to ban satellite camps in order to give the S.E.C. one less thing to be a huge baby about took from November until today to tell Drew what his future would be. I think I can say without hyperbole that Mark Emmert and the NCAA are two of the worst things to ever happen to America.
As my colleague Stewmonkey points out, Kirk Ferentz deserves at least a share of the blame for the decision:
I never really believed that Ott would get the extra year of eligibility, because the NCAA are bastards. And technically, he shouldn't qualify. But if the NCAA really wanted to do what was best for the "student-athlete" they'd give him his fifth year.
That's right, fifth, not sixth. Because part of this is totally on Ferentz, too. He pulled Ott's redshirt during the Northwestern game during the woeful 2012 season. At that point Iowa was 4-3, with losses to Iowa State and Central Michigan; followed by being completely demolished by Penn State losing their two best offensive linemen. Iowa was down big in the Northwestern game, and would go on to lose the rest of their games. It was a lost season, and cost Ott a year of eligibility. That's awful roster management.
Back the NCAA, though, because this was ultimately their decision, as the B1G approved of the 5th year. While Ott did play in more games than would typically get the medical redshirt approved, he only played in 3 snaps of a game, and that game counts against him, that's bullshit.
As for Ott's future, he will enter the NFL draft, but because of the injury, it's unlikely he gets drafted, and will have to try to hang on via free agency. But because of his injury (torn ACL and Tommy John surgery), he likely wouldn't be able to play until midway through the season. There are very few teams that will take a chance on a guy like that. If he hadn't gotten injured, or if he was able to come back for another year, he would almost certainly be drafted.
The NCAA not only blocked him from the fifth year, but because they took so damn long, they also kept him from making valuable contacts in the NFL. He couldn't sign with an agent, he couldn't take full advantage of the combine. The NCAA did the worst possible thing for Ott, but yeah, it's all about the "student-athletes".
If there is a silver lining here, it's that Drew will be fine moving forward. Some NFL team is going to get a 1st round talent at a much better price, and millions of dollars will help Drew get over the disappointment of today. Godspeed, Mr. Ott. You've served the Hawkeyes well, and now your watch has ended.