"I don't see how he got himself in that situation. He knew he was going to have to be gone for up to two months [for filming] so that was what kind of surprised me. But supposedly he comes back. So obviously there's something going on," Pope told Reality TV World during a Thursday conference call that followed his elimination on Monday night's The Bachelorette broadcast.
"We don't really know that for sure," the show's ABC publicist then interjected, leaving Pope to not-so-coyly cover his tracks.
"Right. Okay. Well... I don't know that," he responded.
"That was a complete shock to me because I figured Ed was one of the front runners in the competition," Pope told Reality TV World about Swiderski's decision to leave, which occurred after his boss contacted him during the show's production and allegedly told him he would have to leave the show and return to work or be fired.
"Him and Jillian kind of had something real special. You could kind of tell when Ed was around her eyes kind of sparkled so I was definitely shocked when he left," said Pope. "We were in the middle of Canada and he just pretty much said, 'You know what? I've got to leave. I've got a great job at Microsoft.' I understand completely. I mean, anybody has a great job like that."
However despite his dramatic exit, Swiderski was atypically not available for media interviews after last week's The Bachelorette broadcast aired.
"He's busy with work. He has a lot going on. He's just not available," a network spokeswoman told his hometown Chicago Sun-Times newspaper last week.
A season preview shown at the conclusion of this week's The Bachelorette broadcast then appeared to show two previously departed bachelors returning to the show during the season's remaining episodes.
"When I woke up this morning I was very sure I was going to be an engaged woman by the end of the day, I knew who it was going to be with and I was so excited. And then the guy that was so difficult to let go comes through the door and wants to sweep me off my feet!" Harris said during a clip that seemed to be from the day of her final Rose Ceremony.
In addition, the preview also featured another clip in which The Bachelorette host Chris Harrison was shown announcing "someone else" would be joining Harris and her five remaining bachelors at their next Rose Ceremony.
"This throws a big curveball into everything, I can only bring four guys with me," Harris said.
Pope said he was unsure how Swiderski's boss was able to reach him during filming since he'd had, as is the show's standard practice, no contact with "the outside world" during his own time on The Bachelorette.
"Maybe he had some special permission through ABC. I don't know," Pope told Reality TV World. "Everybody's contract is different so maybe he snuck a little clause in there that he needed access to a computer. I wish I would've known that because I probably would've borrowed it to watch the NCAA tournament Final Four; [I] never got to see any of that."
"I had zero contact," he added. "[No] cell phones - I mean, 99% of us -- unless Ed did. I think 100% of us had no contact with the outside world -- [no] emails, cell phones, TVs - nothing."
Pope told reporters that he shed "no tears" after Harris failed to give him a rose during the competition's sixth Rose Ceremony.
"I pretty much knew it was coming. I just didn't know it was coming that night," explained Pope.
"I was so close to getting a hometown date, and that was my goal. I think if she would have met my family, I think she would have absolutely loved it because my family's awesome... But at the same time, me and her, we didn't have any chemistry. You can see that. We kind of went the friendship route. You can't change how things work. I just think it worked out into other guys' advantages. Some guys have chemistry with her and develop more feelings. I, on the other hand, didn't. So it wasn't that disheartening when I got let go."
One of those suitors that seems to have chemistry with Harris is Wes, a 32-year-old musician from Austin, TX whom Pope suspects -- based on Wes' own comments -- may have a girlfriend back home.
"I think when me and Wes first moved into the bunkhouse, there was a lot of conversation going on. It was a lot of hearsay and a lot of times it was joking around, so I never knew whether to take him seriously because I didn't know his personality at that time," explained Pope.
"Whenever he joked around about, 'Hey I've got a girl back home,' I didn't know whether to take that serious or not. I knew I didn't have a girl back home and I was there for the right reasons, and I stated that from Day 1. But Wes has obviously got some things going... I don't know if the whole girlfriend thing, it may have gotten blown out of proportion. So I never wanted to tell Jillian 100% sure, 'Hey I know Wes has a girlfriend' if I wasn't 100% sure."
While Pope declined to tell Harris that he was certain Wes had a girlfriend, he did tell her that he suspected some of the suitors was already in a relationship before appearing on the show.
"I just meant I didn't know at that point, so at that point it was really unclear to me. Mine and her conversation up until that point had been strictly small talk. So I felt like for me to stick around much longer -- I'm not going to start a rumor -- but there's definitely some stuff going around that's not right," he told Reality TV World. "So I felt I needed to let her know. No, I never expected that anybody else had a girlfriend. But it was always in the back of my mind that Wes may."
Not surprisingly, that conversation between Pope and Harris was eventually made known to the other bachelors during the season's fourth Rose Ceremony -- however they were unaware it was Pope who had spilled the beans.
Still, Pope decided to let the others know prior to the sixth Rose Ceremony that was featured on this week's episode -- and he explained his reasoning for coming clean with them and letting them know that he was the one who told Harris.
"I think that's just the right thing to do. I think I needed to let them know," he told reporters. "I didn't want that blame to fall... because a lot of guys were suspecting Juan or Dave or somebody else. I didn't want that. I felt it was my personal responsibility, so I took it."
While Harris was still in the dark about Wes when Pope was ousted, that will -- as Monday night's preview teased -- end when Jake, one of the other bachelors who was ousted on this week's broadcast, also returns to the show and specifically names Wes as the culprit.
"You'll see Jake, next episode, he has a little part with the whole girlfriend thing. So I'm anxious to see how that goes down," Pope told reporters. "I think we'll get some more questions answered, and so will everybody else."
Despite claiming he wasn't actually present when Wes said it, Pope stated he was "really shocked" to hear Wes telling some of the other bachelors that he had already appeared in six episodes, performed the song he wrote for Harris, and thus got "a little publicity on TV" during Monday night's episode.
"I don't know what Wes was thinking when he said that. You only got half of it due to the editing, because I wasn't around when he said that," said Pope.
"I mean he is in a band and he is a national figure now. He's selling CDs and records so for him to say that -- I mean, he had to have said that, you know? So I don't know what - I don't know. That was a weird situation. I didn't expect him to say that but he did it."
Pope reiterated that since he wasn't present for the conversation between Wes and some of the other suitors, he's not sure if the comments were taken out of context.
"You really don't see the whole Wes. I mean, me and Wes were actually good friends on the show and it's one of the things where how they edit it and -- I know I can't really talk about editing too much -- but he's the bad boy this season and that's how they're rolling with it," Pope told reporters.
"I don't know if that was editing involved or if he really said that. So, you know, me and Wes are fine. There's no tension between us at all. It may look like that, but, you know, I'm friends with a lot of the guys. Some of them, obviously, not as much as others but that's how it is."
Pope said viewers did saw "the real Tanner" during his The Bachelorette stint and explained his strong attraction to feet is accurate -- although he dislikes it when people call it a fetish.
"It's not really a fetish. A fetish sounds dirty and risky. It's more of a like. Jillian always felt comfortable with it or else I wouldn't have done it in the first place," he explained, adding Jillian had "hot feet."
In addition, Pope defended his interest in feet as a "quality that I like" even though some find it creepy.
"The people that think that it's creepy either have ugly feet themselves and so they automatically hate it, or they think it's creepy because they hear the word 'fetish,'" he said. "That's the thing, it's taken out of context. You guys don't see the part of me and Jillian having a normal conversation. All you see through the editing is me and her talking about feet and I'm rubbing her feet."
Pope also surprised Harris and the other suitors when he stripped down his underwear to illustrate what he sleeps in at night.
"You get probably half the part on that due to the editing. We were all talking about what we wear -- you heard that," he said. "It was one of those things where I felt like, 'I've been kind of the comedian of this whole thing, I'm just going to bust out and show her my mandies.' That's what I call them... She said it was a little awkward, but you know what the rest of the sentence went like."
Pope also dispelled rumors that he stuffed his shorts.
"Negative," he told reporters. "I was just blessed. All the guys knew it because we had outdoor showers. They all called me King Dong and other names. I did tricks with my wiener at one point... I rolled with it and had fun with it."
Pope said he decided to try The Bachelorette since his marriage clock is ticking and he was tired of more traditional methods of meeting a girl.
"I've always said by the time I was 30 I was going to be married," he explained. "I'm pretty much over trying to find a girl at the bar. And you know what? Going on a reality show might be the next best option. You know, I can't do it at a bar. And so I just went with it."
Despite initially think that Harris would end up with Kiptyn, Pope said he's now unsure since he saw them share "some weird kisses."
"I thought Kiptyn might win at first, but I don't know. It's hard for me to tell," he said. "For the most part, I think 95% of the guys are there for the right reasons and the other 5% slipped through. But I don't know who's going to end up winning."
As for his own dating life, Pope said he's got a "couple of things in the works" but declined to elaborate.
"I can't really go into too much detail as of yet," he said.