Pitt head coach Paul Chryst was faced with a difficult decision on Monday when he elected to not allow former Panthers running back Rushel Shell to return to school, after Shell elected to not to transfer to UCLA.
While the Shell saga is apparently now closed as it relates to the Panthers, only one question is left unanswered- did Chryst make the right decision?
Naturally there are two schools of thought on this situation.
The first is in regards to allowing Shell to return.
Ultimately all he has been guilty of since walking out on his team during spring practice is being very immature.
This is the same Pitt program that has allowed players to play who have thrown people through windows, had countless DUI arrests, been involved in fights and plenty of other run-ins with the law.
Shell did not break any laws nor had he done anything criminal.
In the age of collegiate sports when winning is the only thing that keeps a coach employed, Shell is a player who likely adds a couple of wins per season to otherwise what may amount to a mediocre Pitt team.
The Panthers aren’t a program like Alabama, LSU or Oregon, the need as many five-star recruits as they can get and they had one in Shell.
But at what cost?
Despite the enormous talent, Shell is a kid that may be heading down the wrong path.
He was already suspended once- for the first game of his collegiate career- for reportedly breaking team rules and apparently Chryst had told certain players not to hang around Shell. Whether that’s true or not really doesn’t matter, but it doesn’t paint a good picture of Shell as a person.
Then there’s something that no one tends to mention and that’s the fact that who really knows if he is even academically eligible after everything that has transpired since March? If he isn’t, he may not even be worth the headache for Chryst.
Finally though and probably most importantly, he’s a kid begging to come back after turning his back on his teammates, which inside the Pitt locker room is likely a bigger crime than some of the Pitt players have already committed.
The important thing here is the message that Chryst would have sent by allowing Shell to come back.
Chryst is trying to build a stable program at Pitt, which isn’t the easiest task in the world to begin with. By allowing Shell to return, what does that say to the rest of the locker room?
No, in this case I thing Chryst made the right call for the future of the program.
Despite Shell’s raw talent and what he could bring to the Panthers on the field, Chryst simply can’t let the inmates run the asylum.
The Pitt football program is bigger than one player, even an enormously talented one such as Shell.
That’s the message that Chryst had to send and hopefully that message was received loud and clear.
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated