Yesterday Terrelle Pryor (through his lawyer) announced he is leaving The Ohio State University. Amongst what I'm sure is a plethora of reasons, the one that sticks out and was made mention by him was "for the good of the team". I'm not sure how losing a 2x BCS game MVP helps the team, but with all the turmoil surrounding him, and the news of more investigations, I can see where he's coming from. Stepping aside, taking the heat with him and letting the team try to concentrate on football seems like the right thing to do. Isn't it?
Naturally, the second it was announced he was leaving, the social media world and national sports network talking heads blew up with various types of reactions, ranging from sentiment to pure elation to schadenfreude. Most of it, especially when it is all lumped together, can begin to make your head spin. I know mine was yesterday. It was then I decided I'd walk away, gather my thoughts and put them down on paper err blog tonight.
The Pryor Legacy
One of the more intriguing questions being asked last night was what type of legacy does Pryor leave now that his college career is over? Do you remember just on the field actions? Is his name forever mud in Buckeye Nation? Thinking about it today, I decided for me, Pryor's legacy falls into three category's: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Cue Ennioe Morricone's "Ecstasy Of Gold" and let's head out to the wild west! (yes, that was cheese at it's finest!)
Fourth and ten, season on the line at Iowa, Pryor takes the snap, scrambles all over and finally runs for the first down in one of the most breathtaking plays of the season. It was something we had become accustomed to, Pryor bailing us out with his legs.
So many other "moments" instantly pop up. His masterful performance against Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Through the turmoil leading the charge in the Super Dome against Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. Miami at home. The PSU students wearing anti-Pryor t-shirts, a "white out" and a resulting beatdown on the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley. Three times against Michigan. playing wide receiver and helping nearly pull off what would have been a miracle win over Texas (who could strongly argue they deserved to be in the title game over Oklahoma) in the Fiesta Bowl. Remember his sophomore year early in the season seeking out linebackers to drop a shoulder into before going out of bounds? Maybe you forgot his game winning drive in Madison that same year to beat thee Badgers? Yes, Terrelle, we had a lot of fun.
For me, that throwing motion has always been a cause for concern. His 11 interceptions last year (22 combined over his sophomore and junior years) also leaves a lot to be desired. Accuracy has always been an issue. Who could forget Dane Sanzenbacher making circus catches on obviously terrible throws. Even with everything mentioned, I still feel the good on the field far outweighed the bad.
Where do we begin? We could start with the Mike Vick eye black and roll right into his defense of LeBron James. Not exactly high character (though Vick has served his punishment and is allegedly a changed man, and to be fair, why should a kid from PA playing football in Columbus give a squat about people's feelings in Cleveland?) people to look up to. The verbal spat with Herbstreit (though he did have a point, when did Herbie beat Michigan?) And of course, tattoo-gate. Oh and the car thing. And... you all know the rest.
I find it funny to hear people say "Pryor was never a real Buckeye". Even former coach Earl Bruce said he never felt like Pryor was a real Buckeye. I don't understand that, especially as it pertains to his play. Think about this: Pryor was a Buckeye from day 1 of recruiting. That whole "I'm delaying my announcement" thing in high school was nothing more than an opportunity for him to buy time until after the basketball playoffs ended. Be honest, would you want to select Ohio State over Penn State and then spend three weeks traveling the state trying to win a basketball title in front of people who want to rip your head off? I applauded the move. Dare I say it, but he has a "Block O" tattoo on his arm that he got when he first arrived at campus. He always spent time (until told not to by the athletic office) signing items for fans. He interacted with us on Twitter. He always mentioned Buckeye Nation and being proud to be a part of it. The guy played hurt. I understand what he did was wrong and against the rules. It was also selfish and to an extent juvenile. But to say that in his time here he wasn't fully committed to the fans and the football program is ludicrous!
However, there is more to it than branding a symbol on your arm and talking the talk. And in that regard, I completely understand what Coach Bruce is saying. There is the other side to the "real Buckeye" coin, and it has nothing to do with touchdowns or passing yards. Craig Krenzel said it yesterday "It's not just play on the field that makes you a true Buckeye".
I happen to fully agree with Craig. I want my Buckeyes to be more than just great athletes and winners on the field. I want them to be winners at life and be the type of people that help bring those around them up to their level. And in that ideal, Terrelle Pryor falls short. However I do not feel he should be cast out or shunned. Terrelle Pryor is a 21 year old kid who has made some serious mistakes. Think he doesn't know it? Think he isn't learning the hardest lesson of all, having it all taken away from him. Sure, its from his own doing, nobody to blame but himself. The kid needs guidance. He needs his family. A little encouragement from us that he can make the changes he needs to make in life wouldn't hurt.
And so finally, what is TP's ultimate legacy at Ohio State? Honest answer, I don't think it will be determined for many years. Look no farther than Maurice Clarett for an example. Here's a kid we all loved, then he turned his back on us and admitted to lying for revenge over his dismissal and ultimately wound up in prison. Today on the Dan Patrick Show, Clarett (though he speaks a little too fast) has made it clear he has turned completely 180. And if you've followed his rehab at all, you know today's interview with Dan Patrick wasn't just lip service. Clarett can now admit his faults and owns his mistakes. And I think in time his growing up and making things right will allow him to be remembered more for stripping Sean Taylor of the ball in the championship game and ultimately scoring the winning touchdown than jumping people for money outside a club in an alley. Yes, it's true Clarett's indiscretions did not cost the program what Pryor's are about to. I'm simply drawing a comparison, not saying the two are equal cases. My point is if Clarett can rebuild his image in the eyes of Buckeye fans, certainly we can at some point welcome back Terrelle Pryor. At that time, we can discuss a legacy.
Metallica track of the day/week/whatever time
"Seek And Destroy" which is what our boys are going to do this fall. Take near professional level athletes, some superior, and spend 10 months telling them that their program is a joke, everything they believe in is garbage and that now they are going to fall into a tailspin, backing them into a corner... watch the reaction. Shock the world.