If TCU head football coach Gary Patterson names Casey Pachall as his starting quarterback, Pachall could be the Comeback Player of the Year in college football.
Pachall has made some mistakes. He has broken the law. He was arrested on drunk driving charges in October and left the team shortly thereafter to enter a rehab facility and address his substance and alcohol issues, according to a statement by Patterson.
Pachall completed his rehab and is currently battling Trevone Boykin to start at quarterback. If both were deemed equal during their fall camp evaluations, Pachall would get the tie-breaker and be named the starter by Patterson, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Pachall has been "humbled" by the whole experience and said he has "matured a lot," according to the report. He has not complained, at least publicly, about his having to compete for the starting position. The 22-year-old has stayed out of trouble.
Some critics will argue that Patterson was too soft on Pachall. He failed a drug test, admitted to smoking marijuana and was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving within an eight-month span, according to the Huffington Post. For some coaches, those transgressions would be grounds for dismissal.
Patterson is known as a disciplinarian but he has given Pachall another chance. Perhaps his 15-2 record as a starter was a factor. According to the Dallas Morning News, Pachall had the "top passing efficiency rating of any active Division I quarterback who has played at least 15 games."
TCU opens with LSU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on August 31. LSU (-4) is the favorite but those odds may drop if Pachall is named the starting quarterback.
For Pachall, a victory doesn't mean his mistakes will have been vindicated. A victory will have a greater impact.
Winning back the trust of his peers and coaches is an important milestone for a young man taking the wrong path in life. For every student-athlete who was never afforded a second chance playing sports, Pachall's perseverance serves as a poignant reminder to coaches.
With risk comes reward. Watching a young man mature, gain more control of his life and seize every opportunity with gratitude and appreciation is a great reward for a parent. And a coach.
A college football player breaking the law or being suspended from team activities is nothing new. Fans are numb. Apologists keep up the denial. And the football player often wonders off in anonymity because fans rarely get to witness his happily-ever-after ending.
Pachall could finally give one troubled journey that happy ending.