Rushel Shell Transfer: Where to, and What’s Next for Pitt’s Backfield?

Rushel Shell's Leaving Pittsburgh, But Where Could He End Up Next?

We Know Rushel Shell’s Leaving Pittsburgh, But Where Could He End Up Next?

As has been the news for nearly a week now, presumed starting running back Rushel Shell has elected to transfer out of Pittsburgh’s football program. SB Nation’s Cardiac Hill has a detailed breakdown of the various puzzling aspects of this move, so for discussion around that front, feel free to wander in that general direction.

What we’re interested in here is where he could potentially end up (touched upon over at CH as well), and then what’s next for the Panthers’ backfield as they continue with spring practice. With little information available right now, please keep in mind this is almost entirely speculation at the moment.

Where could Rushel Shell transfer to?

Just one year ago, Shell was in high demand as one of the top-rated running back prospects in the nation, and he was expected to deliver on those lofty goals as Pitt’s featured back in 2013. Now, he’s an impressive sophomore runner with 641 rushing yards and four scores under his belt, looking for a new home where he’ll sit out a year before regaining eligibility in 2014.

The top transfer choices are the ones in closest proximity: West Virginia and Penn State, but there’s chatter that Pitt would not allow him to head to either long-time rival program. Same goes for Arizona State, where former Panthers coach Todd Graham currently resides as head coach. The Cardiac Hill guys believe Pitt would block any move to those three schools, but is that the right move? Not siding with Shell here, but based on a recent tweet from the mother of Shell’s children, it would almost seem like he’s trying to run from some issues (purely speculation). However, rewind the clock a year, and let’s remember what happened when former Terps QB Danny O’Brien was trying to leave Maryland and head coach Randy Edsall was adamant about limiting his possibilities. The backlash was pretty far-reaching and ultimately, amounted to nothing since O’Brien failed to go to a future scheduled opponent or another ACC team (he went to Wisconsin).

So with that said, where could he potentially land? The top two choices are obvious:

Arizona State: Graham and his staff initially recruited Shell, and perhaps that was part of the initial appeal to the Panthers program (beyond just local tie-ins). The Sun Devils currently have a veteran backfield set for fall, giving Shell ample opportunity to contribute come fall 2014.

West Virginia: Still local, and like many Pitt players, Shell certainly knows plenty of Mountaineers players. With the Big 12 sort of lacking for an elite back, Shell could get an opportunity to really shine in that conference, though who knows how much opportunity he’d get in Dana Holgorsen’s air-raid offense.

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Ranking the Best ACC Football Matchups of 2013: #30-21

Syracuse and Pittsburgh Get to Continue Their Rivalry (Or Lack Thereof) in the ACC

Syracuse and Pittsburgh Get to Continue Their Rivalry (Or Lack Thereof) in the ACC

The 2013 ACC football schedule has officially been released, meaning we finally have some clarity as to whom the conference’s 14 teams will face-off with from week-to-week next season. So with that in mind, we thought it would be an entertaining undertaking to rank all 112 ACC football games for 2013 because, well… it’s the offseason.

Today, we look at numbers 30 through 21; a collection of great in- and out-of-conference matchups, many of which are rooted in decades of history. If you haven’t noticed, we’re now getting to the games which could (potentially) grab some national attention, and potentially even shape the ACC title race.

#30: Maryland Terrapins vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (Saturday, September 21)

#29: Virginia Tech Hokies at Virginia Cavaliers (Saturday, November 30)

#28: Syracuse Orange vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (Saturday, August 31)

#27: North Carolina Tar Heels at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Saturday, September 21)

#26: North Carolina Tar Heels at Virginia Tech Hokies (Saturday, October 5)

#25: Pittsburgh Panthers at Virginia Tech Hokies (Saturday, October 12)

#24: Virginia Cavaliers at Maryland Terrapins (Saturday, October 12)

#23: North Carolina Tar Heels at Pittsburgh Panthers (Saturday, November 16)

#22: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Miami Hurricanes (Saturday, October 5)

#21: Pittsburgh Panthers at Syracuse Orange (Saturday, November 23)

Some additional notes on today’s list:

  • The 10 games appear on 8 different dates
  • Breakdown of non-conference opponent leagues: Big Ten (1), Big 12 (1)
  • Breakdown of non-conference opponent home states: Pennsylvania (1), West Virginia (1)
  • Public vs. private universities: two public

Previously: #112-101, #100-91, #90-81, #80-71, #70-61, #60-51, #50-41, #40-31

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ACC 2013 Spring Football Preview: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

The 2013 Season Could Be Quarterback Vad Lee's Year, Especially if Spring Goes Well

The 2013 Season Could Be Quarterback Vad Lee’s Year, Especially if This Spring Goes Well

As the ACC‘s spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing the big storylines for each of the league’s 14 (15, in this case) teams. Check back on weekdays for what to look out for during your school’s spring practices and spring game.

Team: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Spring Practice Start Date: March 25

Spring Game Date: April 19

Has the triple-option worked for Georgia Tech? Or better question: has Paul Johnson worked for Georgia Tech? After a year in which the Yellow Jackets finished just 6-6 during the regular season, this may just be the last shot for Johnson. With a miniscule recruiting class walking in the door, it won’t be easy. But responding to concern from fans, I’d assume this team must win at least eight games for him to truly feel safe come the offseason. Is that doable, though? This spring sets us on the right track to knowing a bit more.

Following a season where the ‘Wreck scored nearly 34 points per game, it’s hard to believe they had any issues at all on the offensive side of the ball. However, they also failed to score more than 21 five separate times, and (again) without a viable passing game in 2012, the team was an open target for opponents willing to stack the box against the run. Some of that may be due more to graduating QB Tevin Washington than the offense itself, but it’s likely we’ll see a transition period for this season as well. While Vad Lee and Synjyn Days both saw snaps at the quarterback position, it’s questionable which player (if either) can handle the full-time job. Like last year, there’s potential Johnson trots out two separate starters (both Lee and Days), though from a stability standpoint, one wold assume they’d have to choose eventually. The Yellow Jackets averaged just 129 passing yards per game last season (119th in the FBS); a true waste of talent when you’re fielding strong passers like Lee, or quality receivers like Jeff Greene. The team returns plenty of players who were involved in last year’s offense (they had 17 unique rushers and 14 unique receivers), so the pieces should be in place to hit the ground running this spring and find a more efficient way to use everyone’s talents.

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Atlantic Coast Convos 2012 Top 25: Final Poll

After Yet Another Title Game Win, Alabama Takes its Place in the History Books

After Yet Another Title Game Win, Alabama Takes its Place in the History Books

Another great year of college football, another unfortunately forgettable title game. While we can’t necessarily count Notre Dame as an ACC team officially, it still stings a bit to see the Irish get so thoroughly throttled last night. Regardless of what Alabama coach Nick Saban says, the Crimson Tide are a dynasty and they proved it on Monday. Congratulations to them, and let’s all collectively make an effort to end the SEC streak next year, since we failed so miserably again in 2012.

Atlantic Coast Convos 2012 Top 25 (Final Poll)

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (13-1) (LW: 3) (First-place votes: 6)

2. Oregon Ducks (12-1) (LW: 5)

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0) (LW: 2)

4. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-1) (LW: 1)

5. Georgia Bulldogs (12-2) (LW: 7)

6. Stanford Cardinal (12-2) (LW: 8)

7. Texas A&M Aggies (11-2) (LW: 10)

8. Florida State Seminoles (12-2) (LW: 13)

9. South Carolina Gamecocks (11-2) (LW: 11)

10. Clemson Tigers (11-2) (LW: 14)

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Conference Realignment: Would Penn State Have Ever Left the Big Ten?

Could Penn State Ever Leave the Big Ten?

According to Barry Alvarez, Appeasing Penn State Drove This Round of Realignment

Friday, on the three-year anniversary of leaking the news that the Big Ten was looking to add a 12th team, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez told the school’s athletic board the conference was driven to add a 13th and 14th team — in part — to keep Penn State in the fold.

“Jim (Delaney) felt that someday, if we didn’t have anyone else in that corridor, someday it wouldn’t make sense maybe for Penn State to be in our league,” Alvarez told the board, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “That they would go into a league somewhere on the East Coast. By doing that, it keeps us in the Northeast corridor.”

So is there any truth to this? Was there a threat by the PSU administration to leave? Since the Big Ten’s grant of rights only covers the length of the current television contract, the timing would make sense. And Penn State’s recent issues with the conference have been well documented, too. While we certainly never believed PSU — or any team, for that matter — would truly leave the Big Ten, here’s the sales pitch we advocated for the conference to push to the school back in November:

“We know the Big Ten has it out for you. That fumble call against Nebraska was part of a much larger conspiracy by the league and the NCAA to truly stick it to you in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. They’re going to continue to do so. Oh, and remember when Penn State was able to claim a good chunk of the New York market due to its proximity and affiliation to the B1G? Well that’s gone too, now that Rutgers has joined the conference. Speaking of the Scarlet Knights, we have a proposition for you: trade matchups with them and the Terps at noon for games against FSU, Notre Dame and Miami. We’ll even let you restart your old, bitter rivalries against Syracuse and Pitt. And we’ll let you win games and compete for a national championship. Seriously.”

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Atlantic Coast Convos 2012 Top 25: Final Regular Season Poll

After a Big Overtime Win in the MAC Title Game, NIU's Headed to the BCS

After a Big Overtime Win in the MAC Title Game, NIU’s Headed to the BCS

As is customary, we’ll be bringing you a new take on the top 25 teams in the country each Monday during the regular season. And on the final Saturday of the year, we ended up confirming what we all feared: a Notre Dame/Alabama title game that promises to be among the most haughty, pseudo-historical events you’ve ever witnessed. Disagree at all? Feel free to share that with us below (respectfully, of course).

Atlantic Coast Convos 2012 Top 25 (End of Regular Season)

1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-0) (LW: 1) (First-place votes: 4)

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0) (LW: 2)

3. Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) (LW: 3)

4. Florida Gators (11-1) (LW: 6)

5. Oregon Ducks (11-1) (LW: 4)

6. Kansas State Wildcats (11-1) (LW: 7)

7. Georgia Bulldogs (11-2) (LW: 5)

8. Stanford Cardinal (11-2) (LW: 8)

9. LSU Tigers (10-2) (LW: 9)

10. Texas A&M Aggies (10-2) (LW: 10)

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Atlantic Coast Convos 2012 Top 25: Week 14

Don’t Look Now, But Kent State Is Suddenly On the Cusp of Crashing the BCS

As is customary, we’ll be bringing you a new take on the top 25 teams in the country each Monday during the regular season. This week shows little change near the top as Notre Dame clinched its spot in the National Championship Game. The rest of the poll, however, is still a muddled grouping of flawed teams. Disagree at all? Feel free to share that with us below (respectfully, of course).

Atlantic Coast Convos 2012 Top 25 (Week 14)

1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-0) (LW: 1) (First-place votes: 4)

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0) (LW: 2)

3. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) (LW: 3)

4. Oregon Ducks (11-1) (LW: 4)

5. Georgia Bulldogs (11-1) (LW: 6)

6. Florida Gators (11-1) (LW: 8)

7. Kansas State Wildcats (10-1) (LW: 5)

8. Stanford Cardinal (10-2) (LW: 12)

9. LSU Tigers (10-2) (LW: 9)

10. Texas A&M Aggies (10-2) (LW: 10)

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