When he was lost for the season they said this might happen, but now it appears to be official: talented defensive lineman T.J. Fatinikun is applying for a fifth year of eligibility through a medical redshirt. As it says in the Blade article, typically these requests are granted when a player starts the season and, due to injury, misses more than 70 percent of his/her games.
The special circumstances UT is claiming is for the NCAA to consider Fatinikun's entire time missed over two seasons: in 2011 he suffered a season-ending elbow injury in his sixth game and in 2012 he tore his
ACL Achilles tendon in his fifth. So, he played in over 30 percent of the Rockets' games in both seasons, but combined he missed roughly one full season.
There is one issue, though: the article says Fatinikun played in just 11 games in the last two years, but a quick look at UT's own stats, Fatinikun was listed as participating in three additional games, although he didn't compile any stats. (2011) (2012). Whether he truly played in those games or not shouldn't make a difference to challenge the letter of NCAA's rule.
And Toledo has a valid point to argue. I can't find anybody winning a case like this, nor am I aware of anyone trying, but precedent needs to be set somehow, right? Of course, the governing body they have to fight is the NCAA (the MAC already said no), so you can never tell how they're going to rule.