First things first - apologies to you non-wrestling fans for the Legion of Doom reference. Seriously, my bad. With that out of the way ...
So yeah, this happened.
Don't look to me for answers - I'm just as confused as all of you. Still, I try to answer your hypothetical questions here. Let the games begin:
Wait - Rushel Shell isn't going to UCLA after all? Like, that Rushel Shell?
Yeah, I know. Pretty crazy, right?
What gives? I mean, why's he leaving?
That's the million dollar question. But the LA Times report suggests he wants to be closer to family. And when you think about it, that's what most of us found so bizarre in the first place. Unless he's Todd Graham with apparent family everywhere, Shell's family ties are here in good ol' Pennsyltucky. Needless to say, it was a bizarre move at the time.
Okay, but seriously ... whyyyyyy?
Sorrento's Pizza. He just couldn't get enough.
In all honesty, we don't really know. If I'm taking a shot in the dark (and believe me, having never met the kid or talked to him, this is a shot in the dark), it's that he's just young and doesn't know entirely what he wants. All kids in college go through a roller coaster of emotions and it's pretty easy to feel like you want out one day and then change your mind the next.
Now, take an athlete with the entire weight of the world on his shoulders playing for his hometown. It's a bit unfair to think he isn't going to go through swings. Sure, not everyone takes it as far as packing up and moving 3,000 miles away, but to each his own. Heck, look at Johnny Manziel. Dude has it all and he can't even decide what he completely wants.
So, is he coming back to Pitt?
All indications are that he wants to from that LAT report and the Twittersphere ... if you believe that. Here's the thing, though - several things would have to happen. Shell would have to get the right to leave UCLA and while that may happen, there's no guarantee. Then he would have to be welcomed back.
Want him back? That's a good one. Why would they want him back after he voluntarily left town? Is this a Steve Pederson situation?
As I said before - he's young. The thing is, most of us still aren't privy to the full reason he left in the first place. Lots of reasons were speculated such as work ethic, wanting to get away, etc., but it's never fully been confirmed by Shell or by Pitt. If the main reason for leaving was immaturity or just a change of heart, isn't it fair to give him another shot? If the reason is more substantial, then we can talk. But if Shell genuinely has a change of heart, a second chance may not be that far-fetched.
But ... what if Pitt doesn't want him back.
That would be a bit of a quandary for him. In theory, he could try to transfer to another local school like West Virginia or Penn State. But Pitt doesn't have to take him back and if he does, you can be pretty sure that head coach Paul Chryst and the team want some kind of assurances from him about being a full member of the team and sticking with it this time around.
If he comes back to Pitt, can he play right away?
That seems to be a big question mark at the moment. We're looking into it (sue us).
Okay, say he gets his release to come ... and say Pitt wants him back. And say that he can play this year, what's it mean?
It's a good thing for Pitt. The Panthers are a bit thin at running back and even if you don't give him the keys to the
Cadillac Camry offense and let him start right away, having him around provides depth and also more stability (haha, stability) for the future. Despite what you may think of him personally, Shell is still an excellent running back with legitimate talent. Just as his loss hurt the team, his addition helps it.
His role may be unclear heading in, but if he's allowed to play, he and Bennett together is a better combo than Bennett and whoever would win the backup job.
And just as I wrote about recently, Pitt's 2015 offense has a shot to be real good. With Shell in it, it could be great. The team automatically has one less hole to fill.
Here's another thing to consider: Pitt could be getting a hungry Shell. Hungry to prove his doubters, hungry to show his teammates he's ready to go. If he gets his act together, he could become a special, special back.