TCU quarterback Casey Pachall told his coach he didn't want to come along to Big 12 Media Days last week. He didn't want to meet with the media for the first time since leaving the team to seek treatment for alcohol addiction last October.
Instead, he elected to do so on Wednesday, the day his teammates were scheduled to report for fall camp.
He answered questions about his time away for nine minutes with a small group of reporters at TCU, a little more than six months after re-enrolling and rejoining his team back in January.
"I’ve matured a lot,” Pachall told reporters. "Everything that’s happened has really humbled me and helped me out as far as my mentality. Everything that’s happened happened for a reason and I understand that now. I’m actually very grateful for it now."
You can see the full video of his comments here, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
He spoke in a somber tone that matched his comments about the rough time in his life. He's certainly saying all the right things and hitting all the right points after making one of the biggest mistakes of his life last fall, an October DUI arrest four games into the season that precipitated his exit. That came two months after a police report surfaced in which Pachall admitted using ecstasy and cocaine, as well as a report that he failed a team-administered drug test in February 2012, which he issued an apology for in August.
It's clearly a very difficult subject for him to talk about, and he was coy about some aspects of his time away, including the events surrounding his exit and what he was being treated for. Beyond "alcohol," he declined to be specific with reporters.
"No matter what anybody has to say -- negative or positive -- I can only control myself and control what I do and that’s what’s going to keep me moving forward," he said.
I talked with Patterson at length about Pachall earlier this spring, including questions about what assurances, if any, he had that Pachall had left those kinds of mistakes behind him. The fact is, if he is an addict, it's never behind him. Living with that knowledge and making decisions with that in mind is what keeps possible future incidents from ever becoming reality.
Two weeks into his time at rehab, Pachall came upon a realization.
"I did have that little moment of clarity and realized I was screwing everything up and it was completely my fault that I’m in the position I’m in," he said.
He doesn't need anyone to remind him that he did let his teammates, coaches and school down, but all he can try to do now is not let it happen again.
Wednesday was clearly a difficult step in Pachall's hopeful return to a track that ends with him as a starting quarterback in the NFL, but he handled it about as well as anyone could. He'll still face periodic questions about the issue, but this was a necessary step.
As for getting back on the field, Pachall still has to formally beat out Trevone Boykin in fall camp to win his job back.
"The only thing I can control is how I perform on the field in practice all through two-a-days and how I conduct myself off the field," Pachall said. "I can’t stress out about it, or I can’t worry about trying to get my spot back. All I can do is know at the end of each day that I put forth 100 percent and do everything I could for myself and my teammates and the rest will fall into place."