As we mentioned in our Syracuse Orange football spring practice recap, defensive Ryan Sloan is foregoing his final season with the team rather than giving it one more go. The official reason is that Sloan is graduating in May and is ready to move on with his life. But then there are Ryan Sloan's reasons, which he told to Syracuse.com.
"After multiple long conversations with my stepparents (who strongly suggested that I stay a fifth year), I came to the decision that I didn't want to come back," Sloan said. "I didn't feel like it was the right place for me anymore. There were a couple of incidents that happened over the past two years that made me realize 'Cuse wasn't the right place for me."
Sloan said he felt pressured to transfer by the Syracuse staff in 2013, was told he would be held out of preseason camp the following offseason if he didn't meet a weight requirement and wasn't guaranteed a fifth year of eligibility until late in his redshirt junior year. Sloan informed SU defensive line coach Tim Daoust of his decision to stop playing after winter break, he said. He finishes his career with 18 tackles, including 1.5 for loss.
Sloan goes on to tell Stephen Bailey that upon taking over as head coach of the program, Scott Shafer sat Ryan down and basically told him to transfer. Sloan refused and ended up getting the cold shoulder from the coaching staff. After that, he was told he had to prioritize football over classes. And if not for injuries that suddenly made him valuable last season, he most likely would have been silently pushed out of the program whether he wanted to be or not.
That doesn't sound great. It also doesn't sound like anything we haven't heard before. As Sloan notes, "the (other) players who I thought felt the same way as me and had the same talk with Shafer wound up transferring to other schools." It's not uncommon for a new coach to come in, make assessments and bluntly tell a couple guys that you're probably not going to play so it's in your best interest to go elsewhere.
Remember when Doug Marrone came in and practically sent the entire roster packing? We lost track of how many guys transferred, quit or quietly disappeared following what must have been some very similar conversations to the one Shafer and Sloan had. (For the record, it was 28 players. TWENTY-EIGHT. Here's a list).
I remember a lot of people were very concerned about Doug Marrone after he dismissed all those players. After the Orange went to a bowl game the following season, everyone stopped complaining. Cause that's how it goes.
Now, if Shafer and Sloan have this conversation and Sloan decides to stay, well then it's time for both parties to pull a Will Junior and honor that contract. And it's a shame Sloan walks away feeling like it wasn't. Since we'll probably never get the coaching staff's side of the story, we'll never know for sure where everyone stood.
In the end, it's all a good reminder that even though the players might not be paid and we're talking about student-athletes, college football is a business like anything else. Just like in your place of work, promises aren't always kept, contracts will be broken and fairness isn't a requirement. You can say that Sloan got shafted, but, this is not a new phenomena. In college football or in your office.
All you can really do it take care of yourself and it sounds like Sloan is doing that. Fare thee well, Ryan.