At first he was at the top of the depth chart. Then he was taking a few days to think about his future. After that he was heading to California to play for the UCLA Bruins. Then he wanted to come back. In short, it’s been a bumpy ride for Rushel Shell and the Pitt Panthers this offseason. Paul Chryst, for one, has had enough of it.
When Shell back-tracked on his plan to head out west, he hoped that the team he had walked out on during spring practice would have him back. Chryst wasted no time in telling the former Panther, “Thanks, but no thanks,” in terms of a reunion. Pitt moved on this spring from Shell and Chryst is serious about maintaining that closure.
On a bigger level, Chryst is sending a message to Pitt fans and players. For a program that has been through non-stop turnover for the last several years, Chryst is putting his foot down and declaring that the time of uncertainty is passed in Pittsburgh. He started it when he passed on the vacant head coaching job with the Wisconsin Badgers last offseason, and he put an exclamation point on it with the Shell situation.
Pitt is a program for people who want to be there now thanks to Paul Chryst and his loyalty to his post and the decisiveness on players who no longer want to be there, even momentarily. Will that new mindset create confidence in the program and wins on the football field?