The fact that Tra’von Chapman’s status has been up in the air all month hasn’t been a big surprise. It isn’t an easy decision. It also isn’t a big surprise that a decision has to be made some time this week. With classes starting on Monday, all sides need resolution.
The only surprise is that the fate of Chapman is not in Head Coach Paul Chryst’s hands this time. It is in the hands of Chancellor Mark Nordenberg.
“I am waiting on the call sometime (Tuesday or Wednesday) to see what the outcome is going to be,” he said.
Coach Paul Chryst said Tuesday afternoon no determination has been reached in Chapman’s case.
Chapman has been suspended from the team and unable to attend classes since he was arrested in April for assaulting a former girlfriend in Kent, Ohio. He pleaded guilty and served a three-day jail term last month.
“The plan is to have me back,” Chapman said. “I want to come back. Coach Chryst and everyone else want me back. Mr. (Steve) Pederson (athletic director) is presenting the case to the chancellor and the chancellor is going to decide.”
Chapman, a four-star freshman quarterback, graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in December and enrolled in Pitt a month later.
For those that think this is a slam dunk either way, I have my doubts. And it has little to do with his recruiting rank.
Nordenberg is a designator. He wants to trust the people he puts in charge of a department. Whether it is the football program, the English departerment, athletic department, etc. So if they are going to bat for somebody, he will tend to trust those decisions. If Chryst and Pederson are indeed going to bat for Chapman, that will go a long way.
On the other side, Nordenberg is retiring. For those that think it makes it easier for him to let Chapman come back because it will be someone elses problem, I disagree. The last thing Nordenberg wants is a public decision like this coming back at him wrong. He cares about his legacy, and this one has a chance to go sideways. If Chapman were to ever screws up at Pitt again, it splashes on him. He’s the one that gave him that second chance. He’s the one that screwed up in letting him back. It would be far easier from a legacy standpoint to just cut Chapman than let him earn his way back.
Then there is the Wannstedt hangover. (And I swear, this isn’t a Wannstedt bashing exercise, just a factor). Dave Wannstedt had a really solid relationship with Nordenberg. Very chummy, as Wannstedt has always been skilled at doing with his top boss (see, also, NFL owners in Dallas, Chicago and Miami.) But in the end, Nordenberg got burned when the Sports Illustrated article altered the perception on how Wannstedt ran the program. If all efforts have gone into shedding that stigma, than this matter becomes even more complicated.
I’ve been up front. I have no problem with Chapman being allowed to stay. My feeling is a full year, true suspension. He is just a student. He can’t work out or practice with the team — he’s on his own there. While it can count as a redshirt, there is little chance he truly gets a chance to develop and learn football. He only gets to learn as a person and a student. He got an early start at Pitt. He should get a chance to show that he really is going to be a better person.
Pitt isn’t LSU, where Les Miles can spew whatever line he wants and bring a kid back right away. Chapman is needs to have to take real consequences. That doesn’t mean he has to do it somewhere else.