The Rushel Shell saga was certainly one of the more strange things you will see happen in college football. Shell was a top five running back in the country, and saw past the offers from Alabama and Ohio State to stay home for his infant twin daughters. It certainly was a noble decision on his part, and nobody blamed him for that. Although Pitt is not a top tier program, they have been able to churn out great running backs.
Shell did commit to the Panthers under Todd Graham, but stayed with the program under the hiring of Paul Chryst. The start to his college career was not all that heralded, either. The young back was suspended for a loss to FCS, Youngstown State in the season opener last season. Shell was able to recover and dominate Virginia Tech for 157 yards. He finished the year with a solid 641 yards being Ray Graham's understudy.
All indications this season pointed to Shell being the top back, and essentially the star of the offense. This all changed when Shell decided to abruptly transfer. The young player had a falling out with the staff in some regard, but his reasoning never became public. Pitt diligently blocked him from Arizona and Arizona State because of potential tampering from the Todd Graham staff. Shell decided his landing spot would be UCLA. The UCLA spot seamed like a done deal, and Pitt moved on.
It got real interesting this weekend as rumors came out Shell never enrolled at UCLA. It got a bit crazier when Shell was reportedly asking for a way to come back to Pitt. It caused mass chaos on the message boards and social media among Pitt fans arguing whether he should or should not be allowed back on the team. Pitt ultimately laid a rest to it last night, by saying no to the return.
In my honest opinion, Pitt made the right call. Shell wanted to leave Pitt, and I cannot fault him for going to play wherever he wants. He is entitled to play college football wherever he feels best, and if Pitt was not the right place, then so be it. I thought it was pretty lame to say Shell was a bad father for leaving, because nobody on the outside knows that situation and it would not be fair to judge him on that.
I do find it comical on national media outlets, however, that so many outsiders are laughing at Pitt for not taking him back, and that should not be the case. If Pitt took Shell back, it would not be holding anybody accountable. He quit on his team in Spring drills and bad mouthed a lot of people on his way out of town on Twitter. Once he made a spectacle of himself, it was hard for me to ever seriously consider taking him again. Not every player would be awarded the opportunity of a second chance, and Shell coming back would be looked at as "superstar treatment."
I thought it would be sending the wrong message to the team and perspective recruits. My guess is that the team is a bit split on the decision with at least some wanting to see him get another shot. Shell was not thought about for the past few months, and the program has moved past it. I wish him well and hope he figures it out. He has serious NFL potential, but it is clear Pitt was not the right spot.