Some stunning news in the C-USA as Houston's Case Keenum was awarded a 6th year of eligibility after winning an appeal to the NCAA today (Hat tip to MinerManiax for the heads up). Keenum of course tore his ACL in Houstons third game of the season against UCLA. A week before the UCLA game, Keenum suffered a concussion against UTEP.
This news is a surprise. In the past, I noted what I thought to be the correct interpretation of the NCAA rules on the matter as articulated by SI's Stewart Mandel. When asked if Keenum would win his petition, Mandel said it was highly unlikely and wrote:
Keenum is in his fifth, and while he got injured early enough that this year would theoretically qualify for a medical redshirt, it's negated by the fact that he already used up his redshirt year as a freshman. The general rule is you have "five years to play four," and it takes some pretty drastic circumstances to be granted a sixth year, like missing two full seasons to injury.
I'm not sure what exactly this all means to the C-USA West football race in 2011. Freshman David Piland, of quarterback factory Southlake Carroll, played well down the stretch for the Cougars and looked like he could become a four year starter there. Now, he'll presumably take a backseat to Keenum if he's healthy next year. Houston will also return Keenum's original backup, Cotton Turner, who was also lost for the season in the UCLA game. The teams third stringer entering the season, Terrance Broadway, has already transferred to UL- Lafayette.
Even before the injury, the undersized Keenum was considered a "system" quarterback and a long shot to make an NFL roster after college. The rehab time for the injury would have made it impossible for him to participate in the Senior Bowl, Combine, or any other signature pre-draft events. So, this decision will give him another season to show the NFL scouts that he is in fact capable of playing professionally.
Also, it will give him one last chance to lead Houston to a BCS bowl which many college football analysts thought was a legitimate possibility going into 2010. Of course, Houston's defensive woes showed that even with a healthy Keenum, their squad would have had a an uphill battle in that regard this season.
Houston will also return star tailback Charles Sims, who sat out this year due to academic reasons, for the 2011 season. While I don't know how good Keenum will be as a 6th year quarterback, I do know that he'll have a chance to smash just about every major collegiate passing record if he can somehow regain his earlier form. One things for sure, the C-USA West just got a lot more interesting going into spring ball.