Dave Wannstedt confirmed that Pitt DE Jabaal Sheard will receive further internal discipline, but will not miss any game time:
Sheard pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge and was also ordered to pay medical bills for the victim and write a letter of apology to him. Sheard was suspended from the team as his case made its way through the courts system, but he will not miss any regular season games.
“Hear me loud and clear please. After gathering all of the information and the legal system took its course, we are very comfortable with the decision we made considering Jabaal,” Wannstedt said at his news conference during media day for the Panthers.
“You all know that we have had players in the past, as every school does, off the field, on the field, where it hasn’t worked out. But my responsibility to the university and these kids is to be consistent and fair with the facts and handle it accordingly. And that’s all I have to say about that.”
Wannstedt also said that there were indeed other facts not disclosed that led him his decision. Without speculating too much, it sounds as if Sheard may have been able to present an explanation why he did what he did. Perhaps the same explanation wasn’t made public because Sheard didn’t want it to seem like he was making excuses.
I’m still undecided about what to think about this. Part of me wonders if there was something else we don’t know about that could have provoked Sheard to this end. But another part wonders if that should be a moot point and Sheard should be suspended regardless of any provocation. In the end, I think a one-game suspension was probably in order, but without knowing all the facts, it’s hard to be too firm about it.
While it may appear on the surface that Sheard is getting away with a lot, Wannstedt has not previously shown his ability to discipline players. Even though Elijah Fields’ latest incident was not his only one, Wannstedt still made a strong statement by booting him from the team. Say what you will about Fields’ multiple chances, but he was becoming an impact player and could have helped the team this year. By cutting him loose, Wannstedt did show he is not against getting rid of players who can play a significant role.