Troubled TCU quarterback Casey Pachall will leave school to seek drug and alcohol treatment after DWI arrest but could return in 2013

By Kevin Lonnquist

Big 12 insider

Casey Pachall

TCU quarterback Casey Pachall will leave school to undergo drug and alcohol treatment
Photo By Tommy Smith
Rattle and Hum Sports

In seconds, the persona of the TCU football program changed. The accusations of a win-at-all-costs mentality were vanquished when coach Gary Patterson announced Tuesday that quarterback Casey Pachall would be leaving the school to enter a drug and alcohol treatment center.

Pachall’s status will be re-evaluated in the spring. There are no guarantees that he will return in 2013. But that doesn’t matter. With anyone battling demons, there really shouldn’t be any recognized timeline. These matters work at their own pace. What’s important is that Pachall take the rehab program seriously, recognize what he has to do to recover, try to live a normal life knowing that the temptation will always be there and then return to football — if that’s still the goal.

Let’s be honest. This is the only kind of announcement that could have been made. The fallout of suspending Pachall for several games that also included a return this season would have been potentially damaging all on fronts for TCU — its image, wins and losses, postseason appearances, season tickets, advertising potential and on the recruiting front.

The others speak for themselves. But let’s look at the recruiting side of this. Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program. It’s not about the X’s and O’s. It’s about the Jimmys and Joes. A program needs a bunch of good ones to make sure those X’s and O’s look great. Given the February drug scandal and now Pachall’s transgressions, all a competitor had to do is look a kid in the eye and say, “You want to play over there with what’s going on?” And poof, that kid commits elsewhere. It’s called negative recruiting and it’s used all the time — everywhere. As TCU lands into big-time college football, this program will endure more of that. It could have been worse had Pachall stuck around.

Now, TCU can use this announcement with recruits and tell them that it fosters the environment where recruits and parents can feel comfortable. And it will help them should anything of a personal nature occurs. And the competitors can’t use this episode for ammunition.

Patterson said after Saturday’s loss to Iowa State that he isn’t a good loser and that he doesn’t want losing to be a disease with his program. But he may have saved his image within his own locker room. There was always a piece of me that believed that a Pachall return could have caused a rift and then the season really would have spiraled.

The season may spiral anyway. If you read the coaches corner from Monday, you’ll know what I’m talking about regarding what TCU has left on its schedule. This program has already lost 20 players. The 21st is a big setback. Few expected the Horned Frogs to be Big 12 contenders anyway. Patterson was asked whether this announcement would cost his program a bowl game in December. He acknowledged it could but said that wasn’t part of the decision.

Short-term pain may result in long-term gain. TCU will win respect from peers and national media for doing the right thing and making sure that the human element of football comes first. Pachall gets a chance to win a more important battle.

TCU football 2012 may be known for making its debut in the Big 12 and opening the newly furnished Amon Carter Stadium. However, it may be known best as the program that will always help one of its own.