Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel told the media that Terrelle Pryor and the other junior players caught selling stuff against NCAA rules had to pledge to return next season despite facing suspension for the first five games next year, or they would not play in the Sugar Bowl next week.
I wish he hadn’t done that.
Jim Tressel made his players pledge to play next fall. We wish he hadn't.
I wish Tressel would cut the strings and let him go. Terrelle Pryor has worn out his welcome. If this was the first screw-up, that would be one thing. But it’s not.
On a Tressel team that supposedly is disciplined and doesn’t make waves, Pryor makes waves. He badmouths the Ohio State offensive scheme. He tweets that he was cheated out of Big Ten accolades.
His teammate, Tyler Moeller, said when Pryor arrived in Columbus as the hot-shot top recruit out of Jeannette, Pa., he was ”kind of a punk.”
He called Kirk Herbstreit, the former OSU quarterback and generally highly regarded ESPN analyst, a “fake Buckeye” – whatever the hell that is, in response to some criticism of his behavior:
“For me personally, I don’t know Terrelle Pryor as an individual, just watching him grow as a player on and off the field, I think all of us have said he has grown on the field. My problem has always been on his actions off the field, on the sidelines, kicking water bottles, frustrated, disgusted, just not being a great leader.”
There’s more, but you get the point (You do get the point, don’t you?). Great athlete. Could be a better quarterback, a better leader. May still be. But he needs to grow up. And he needs a new scene. The scene has grown toxic in Columbus, which will happen when you have a strong-willed athlete acting up in a fishbowl like Columbus. Columbus is a company town and the company is The Ohio State University. Everybody, it seems, has a vested interest in Ohio State and everyone is an expert. That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone who’s 18, 19, 21. Some handle it better than others.
Seven years ago another Buckeye star imploded before our eyes. Maurice Clarett ended up in prison before he finally woke up to reality. Sometimes you want to grab these guys by the ear, give ’em a good shake and tell ’em, “Shut up already and do what you’re told by the coach, for Christ’s sake!” Instead they listen to sycophants who tell them how great they are and they don’t need some sweater-vest guy telling them what’s good for them.
Pryor’s offenses don’t come anywhere near the level of deserving incarceration and I hope it never comes to anything that dire. But he’s burned too many bridges in Columbus.
Coach, for everyone’s good, don’t hold Terrelle to that pledge. He needs a change of scenery.
And so do we.