On March 28, Pittsburgh released a statement of support for running back Rushel Shell, who apparently was mulling his future at the school.
Said coach Paul Chryst:
“Like many college freshmen, Rushel is working through some challenges right now. As it is for all members of our team, my most important concern is his personal well-being. Rushel and his family have our full support. We are giving him time away from football to work through this situation but he very much remains a part of our family on a daily basis. We want to be sensitive and respectful of Rushel, and I would ask others to do the same.”
Well said. Classy. Obviously Chryst's chief motive is helping out a young man.
A few days later, it was confirmed that Shell, the Panthers' second-leading rusher as a true freshman last year, wanted to transfer.
This morning, we learned that Chryst and Pitt no longer rate Shell's "personal well-being" as the "most important concern," nor does the school offer him and his family its "full support." Shell, clearly, is no longer part of the compassionate and loving Pitt "family."
We know this because Pitt has informed Shell he can't transfer to Arizona State, one of four Pac-12 schools he indicated he wanted to consider.
Is there a competitive reason that would justify this decision? No. Pitt and Arizona State have no scheduled games.
So what is the reason?
Well, there's only one: Chryst and Pitt are choosing to role model petty, churlish behavior because they can, and that apparently will appeal to many Pitt fans who still are fuming that over a year ago Todd Graham preferred a job at Arizona State over one at Pittsburgh.
The only other explanation is that Chryst and Pitt hate freedom.
The high-minded response for a college coach in every single instance when a player wants to transfer is: "OK. Your choice. Good luck."
The middle-minded response for a college coach is: "OK, but you can't transfer to any team in our conference or on our schedule."
The low-minded response for a college coach is ... what Chryst and Pitt did.
By the way, Pitt also said Shell can't transfer to Arizona. Why? According to ESPN's Joe Schad, it's "because former Pitt staffers coach there as well."
I know this is frustrating and embarrassing for Pitt folks. Coaches and players seem to prefer their association with the Pitt program to be "former" rather than "current." That's not me just typing that; Don't blame the messenger! That's what we keep seeing with people's behavior.
So here's a measure of character for Pitt fans. All of them know what is right and all of them know this isn't right. They know it. Not a single Pitt fan truly believes Pitt is acting like a bastion of higher learning and integrity with this decision.
Now will those Pitt fans take a stand for what is right, contact Pitt and support the freedoms of a young man?
Or will they support petty, churlish behavior because they can?