Maybe Casey Pachall didn’t deserve a second (third?) chance from TCU, but the young man who caught these breaks after screwing up sounds like he gets it. Give him his due, regardless of how he arrived here. This ride had to be absolute hell.“After about a week or two [in treatment], I did have that moment of clarity and realized that I was screwing everything up,” Pachall said on Wednesday at TCU’s football media day. “That it was completely my fault that I am in the situation I’m in and who all I let down.”That could not have been a fun realization, especially when the alternative could have been trying for the NFL or going to a different school and continuing with the fun parade.His program was not a checklist outlined and approved by an indifferent bureaucrat who hates his job. His treatment is not a Lindsay Lohan-like 30-day joke. It will likely require continual monitoring beyond the 2013 season.According to TCU coach Gary Patterson, his quarterback still must meet certain requirements, complete with check-ins and updates with university professionals. This is over, but it is not done.Pachall said he never considered declaring for the NFL Draft last fall. He said he never considered transferring. To do either was not going to address what he felt was the real issue.“Before I worried about football, I needed to focus on myself at the time,” he said.On Wednesday, he said all the right things, and none of it sounded remotely insincere. This was not an act. This is a young man who sounds as though he had to look in the mirror and acknowledge some difficult truths.From what people associated with the program have said, he returned to school in January a different young man than the one who left in October after he was arrested on suspicion of DWI.Before, the stories were abundant of a book-smart but brash and arrogant guy who was unaware of his role, responsibilities and potential. He wasn’t lazy, but he wasn’t too self-aware. He was shy, didn’t sound like much of a leader and was more like a frat-bro guy who played football between parties.The Pachall who faced the media Wednesday was well-spoken and sounded mature. After what he went through, even if much of it was self-inflicted, a news conference or an oncoming LSU pass rusher can’t seem as daunting.This Pachall sounds like a guy who would do well in an pre-draft interview with NFL executives. He sounds like a guy who wants to win and lead his team as a senior.“I think it’s changed him; he wouldn’t be back had he not taken the steps,” said Patterson, who added this bolt of truth: “We’ve got to win or there will be critics.”For at least this season, Pachall is going to hear about his past when the team makes trips to Stillwater, Lubbock and the other inhospitable locales throughout the Big 12. He is already hearing about it on his own campus, and there is nothing he can do about it but take it and beat it.There are, however, plenty of supporters. A pair of TCU grads, who form the hip-hop duo Midway, released a song for Casey’s return — check YouTube.com and type in “Midway #Caseyback.”Eventually, this whole thing will fade, provided nothing else major happens. It sounds as though Pachall wants no part of reliving such a scenario.The only “slip” he might have made Wednesday was to say he has nothing to prove. He does.He still has to win the starting job, which Patterson insists is open between Pachall and Trevone Boykin.(BTW — If Pachall is not the starter against LSU, something has gone terribly wrong. As properly noted in the song Casey Back: “Got mad respect for Boykin, but we all know we need him.”)Pachall is also going to have to prove that all of the behaviors that led to a treatment facility are done. That doesn’t stop after seven months, but it will end provided he strings enough good days together.On Wednesday, it not only sounded possible but plausible and likely.Both he, TCU and its football team should benefit greatly with the return of the best passer in the Big 12.Maybe Casey Pachall did not deserve these second and third chances from TCU. He might not be there all the way, but he is on his way. It had to be hell to get here.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @macengelprof