Michigan Wolverines transfer Aubrey Solomon is in NCAA limbo with the Tennessee football Volunteers. Luke Fickell vs. Jim Harbaugh explains the Vols issue.
Despite announcing his intentions to transfer back in December, Tennessee football defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon, who was once a five-star recruit and worked with the first-team all spring, has been waiting on his eligibility waiver from the NCAA. The Vols desperately need to know given how dire their situation is up front.
However, while the NCAA has been clearing transfers left and right, most recently Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis, who transferred from the Louisville Cardinals, Solomon has been playing the waiting game. And the season is two weeks out.
Well, now we may have the answer. Tennessee football may be dealing with a bitter coach in Jim Harbaugh. An ESPN article in February went into detail about the vagueness of the NCAA’s decision making on granting eligibility waivers to transfers, and it does seem to suggest that coaches of the school the player is transferring from can make it difficult.
Harbaugh’s character on that front was revealed with another player. Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell blasted Harbaugh in an article in The Athletic about the way he went after another Michigan transfer, offensive lineman James Hudson.
Hudson’s appeal for a waiver to immediately play for Cincinnati this year was denied back in July. Fickell says that Michigan did not back the waiver. Now, Fickell’s complaining seemed to be a bit much, as he couldn’t point to outright evidence of sabotage. He simply criticized Harbaugh for not aggressively backing the kid, which Harbaugh doesn’t have to do given Hudson transferring away.
But it may help explain why Tennessee football can’t get Solomon cleared to play. If Harbaugh, for no reason, will do that with other transfers, why should we believe he’s not doing the same with Solomon? Harbaugh has clearly shown bitterness in the past at NCAA rules that don’t benefit him. Maybe that applies to transfers from his program.
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Regardless, this is why the NCAA needs to be much more clear on how it handles eligibility waivers for transfers. Schools need to know more than three weeks out if they are going to have a player or not.
Tennessee football is desperate at defensive line after losing Alexis Johnson, Kyle Phillips, Shy Tuttle and Paul Bain and having their only returning contributor, Emmit Gooden, suffer a season-ending injury. Jeremy Pruitt needs to know now if he should be working Solomon with the first team.
This isn’t about whether or not Harbaugh is wrong. That’s simply a philosophical question for fans as to whether or not coaches should back their players who transfer and seek an eligibility waiver. What the issue really is, though, is the NCAA not being more explicit on how a player can be eligible to go. The discretion of how nice his former coach is should not be a factor.
Given what the rules are now, though, and what Fickell said about Harbaugh, it’s likely that’s why Solomon is in limbo. Other coaches are probably more willing to help out their former players. Look at what Dabo Swinney did in promoting Kelly Bryant to the Missouri Tigers.
Harbaugh is probably not happy about losing a top-rated defensive lineman to another program, much less an SEC program like Tennessee football. So unlike other players getting waivers, Solomon is getting no support from his former coach.