Former Cardinal O'Hara High School and Rutgers University quarterback Tom Savage said Monday that he has been denied an NCAA hardship waiver that would have allowed him to return to Rutgers and be immediately eligible.
"It's kind of a tough situation right now," Savage said, adding he was disappointed and surprised but prepared for the possibility of this outcome.
Savage transferred from Rutgers to Arizona after the 2010 season, his sophomore year. He had to sit out the 2011 season because of the transfer from Rutgers. He will look into an appeal, he said, but if that fails, he would have to sit out another season.
Savage said it was his understanding that because he is transferring for the second time, he would have just one season of eligibility remaining at any scholarship program, at any level, including Division II. He could transfer to a Division III non-scholarship program and have two seasons of eligibility.
Savage didn't want to discuss options, but don't be surprised if Delaware comes up as a landing spot. It appeared that Rutgers was interested if Savage had two seasons of eligibility, but that scenario was before Rutgers coach Greg Schiano left last week for the NFL's Tampa Bay head-coaching job. It remains to be seen whether Rutgers could be viable as a one-season option. Savage talked about the possibility of taking online classes as he keeps his options opened.
"Honestly, I would make the same decision over again," Savage said, regarding leaving Arizona and applying for a hardship waiver. "Even with the outcome of the waiver."
Savage said he needed to come back to support his family and that he is "being 100 percent honest" that his move wasn't related to Arizona bringing in a new coach with a different offensive system.
"I'm not going into why - that's all personal stuff," Savage said. "Realistically, it's what I needed to do."
Savage said he had a good experience during his short time at Arizona and new Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez was welcoming to him. A 6-foot-5 drop-back quarterback who threw for 2,211 yards as a freshman, Savage said the fact that Rodriquez runs an offensive system that typically uses more of an option-style QB was not a factor for him.
It seems obvious that the one move Savage would have done over was leaving Rutgers in the first place. He had started as a freshman, and lost his job as a sophomore before he transferred. Savage said he maintained a good relationship with Schiano, and it appeared that he would have competed for the starting job if he had received the waiver and been eligible for the 2012 season.
The bottom line is that, barring a successful appeal, he has lost a season of eligibility. But the odds are that some scholarship program in this area will want his skills, for even one season.
"I hope you're right," Savage said.