Reporting Colin Dunlap
PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) — Perhaps you don’t have to pick a side in what seems like it has become a case of Shell vs. The University of Pittsburgh.
Maybe there are no winners or losers.
But, perhaps, this is a situation where all parties ended up with the best possible resolution.
From my view, that’s certainly the context as it became official on Tuesday afternoon, when Pitt issued a statement that highly-touted running back Rushel Shell — who was going to be a sophomore next season — was leaving the program.
The statement, devoid of any frills and wasting no words, was from head coach Paul Chryst and read, in totality, “Rushel and I met on Tuesday morning and he informed me of his final decision to transfer. I wish him only the best moving forward. Out of respect for Rushel, his family and his privacy, this will be my final comment on the matter.”
That’s it, Fort Pitt — this Shell game is over.
At least from Pitt’s end.
Where he goes, no one knows — except Shell, of course.
Even before Shell’s transfer became official, when he was absent from Spring practice last week and Chryst noted that he had been given some time away from the program to sort matters out, Pitt fans — and people in general — began to mount up on two distinct sides.
There was, and I assume will remain, the faction that sides with Chryst. Without knowing all the facts, they can clearly state that Shell didn’t have the work ethic to fit the no-nonsense ethos of a coach who is attempting to provide Pitt with a stability that it has lacked in recent seasons.
Many in this group that sides with Chryst are also quick to point out that Shell — the father of young twin daughters — is “running away” from his family without a cement understanding as to where he will transfer to or an accurate depiction or understanding of his family life.
There was, and I assume will remain, the faction that sides with Shell.
Without knowing all the facts, they can clearly state that Shell was disrespected by the coaching staff, that the young man didn’t have his ego stroked enough and wasn’t given the preferential treatment that a running back befitting his pedigree deserves. They hold steadfast to their defense of Shell even as Chryst was forced to suspend the superstar recruit for what should have been his first collegiate game on Sept. 1 against Youngstown State. The thought here is Chryst had a more than valid reason; he wouldn’t sabotage his own cause that day — a game Pitt lost — by not having Shell at his disposal.
Remember, through all this, through all the ebb-and-flow that has come with the Shell situation, the one person we have not heard from publicly (save for a few Twitter posts) is Rushel Shell.
There appear to be very few certainties in the situation between Shell and Pitt that has now, at this point, become a divorce.
But the overriding sentiment from this vantage is simple, as there are some things that ring very clear, even as we will probably never know all the truths:
+ Rushel Shell didn’t want to be a member of the Pitt football program any longer.
+ Football programs – much like any organization — are only held back by having people within them who don’t want to be there.
With the two above points extremely clear, perhaps we can look at this situation without having to designate a winner or a loser in all this. Maybe in life, that doesn’t have to always happen, someone doesn’t always have to win and, conversely, lose.
In the case of Shell vs. The University of Pittsburgh, it says here both parties are left with the best possible development; Shell gets to leave a situation he didn’t want to remain a part of, and Pitt gets rid of a player who didn’t want to be in their program.
Former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sports Writer Colin Dunlap is the featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10p-2a on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org