Pittsburgh Panthers star running back Rushel Shell has expressed his desire to be released from his scholarship and transfer to a new school, one of the potential new homes being in Tempe with the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Under normal circumstances, a transfer across country to a program in a separate conference typically wouldn’t cause an eye to be batted by a coach or athletic director, but in this case, things are different. There’s a petty grudge held you see. A grudge which is entirely juvenile and causes the Panthers to come off looking like a bunch of second-graders who are upset their girlfriend is playing at recess with another kid.
Todd Graham, you see, was once the head coach at Pittsburgh and brought plenty of promises with him– one of those being his prized recruit Rushel Shell. Graham left Pittsburgh after only a single season in 2011 — something he had done previously at Rice before serving a three-year stint with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
This quick departure infuriated the Pittsburgh athletic administration to no end and quickly helped Graham earn a label as the king of gypsy coaches — willing to depart at the drop of a hat for more money, for an opportunity where he perceived the grass would be greener.
If it’s Pittsburgh’s intent to continue to punish Todd Graham after the fact by not allowing Rushel Shell the ability to transfer to Arizona State, then they are just as juvenile as Graham may have been in job hopping. In a world dominated by ego, money and the desire to win-at-all-costs, such grudge-holding and petty behavior isn’t exactly a rarity, but Pittsburgh has an opportunity.
The opportunity to not draw themselves down into the dreck and rise above — letting Rushel Shell do what’s best for him and move on. He’s only playing the cards dealt to him in a world where athletic scholarships are binding for one year with a mutual opt-out for both parties and where coaches move around for better opportunities without the slightest hint at loyalty.
How can we blame him? He’s only mirroring the behavior he sees around him, and punishing him is a second wrong which certainly doesn’t equal a right.