By Mark Long/The Associated Press
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Michigan backup quarterback Tate Forcier is academically ineligible for the Gator Bowl against No. 21 Mississippi State, a person familiar with the ruling said.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday on condition of anonymity because the school would only say Forcier “did not meet university standards.”
Forcier, who was in Jacksonville for the bowl game, now is traveling back to Michigan.
The sophomore threw for 597 yards and four touchdowns as Denard Robinson’s backup this season. He played in eight games, completing 64 percent of his passes and rushing 22 times for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Forcier told the Detroit Free Press on Monday that he has struggled academically.
“I’ve never been the greatest student,” Forcier told the newspaper. “I was always the kid who was street smart but not that smart classroom-wise.”
Forcier told the newspaper he needed to pass 14 credits this semester to remain eligible and took 16 credits “just in case I didn’t do well in another class.”
Freshman Devin Gardner becomes Robinson’s backup, potentially missing a chance to get a fifth season of eligibility. Gardner played in just two games early in the year and might be able to redshirt this season because of a back injury if he doesn’t take a snap in the Gator Bowl.
Gardner led Michigan’s second-string offense on Dec. 18 during a spirited scrimmage in Ann Arbor, Mich., while Forcier watched — just as he did in the season-opening win over Connecticut.
After starting every game as a freshman last year ahead of Robinson, Forcier fell behind on the depth chart during spring drills and hurt his chances of competing for the job even more during summer workouts when defensive back Troy Woolfolk called him out for falling short of the senior’s expectations.
Forcier had to earn the right to have Michigan’s famed wing decals on his helmet during training camp because coach Rich Rodriguez said he wanted to see some consistency from him for a few days in a row.
When Gardner played in the opener against the Huskies, Forcier put a towel over his head on the sideline and his father, who didn’t return a call Thursday night seeking comment, said he told his son that day to stop pouting and vowed he wouldn’t transfer.
Forcier stayed and played in eight games.
AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this report.