Poor Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State
Terrelle Pryor's sure put himself into a nice pickle.
The guy who isn't ready for the NFL now may have to go the NFL. Either that or he sits out the first five games of the 2011 season courtesy of an NCAA suspension for benefiting from selling items he earned while benefiting The Ohio State University.
Rest assured, though, it's not Pryor's fault. Not his fault whatsoever. He didn't know he couldn't sell his paraphernalia, ranging from a Big Ten championship ring to a trinket of gold pants given by the University for beating Michigan. He sold them, you see, for the most noble of causes: to help his family.
That's the word from Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who also lavished gushing praise on Ohio State's compliance department as it saw its marquee player given the NCAA hammer. It was only on "this particular bylaw" -- which in NCAA vernacular probably is Bylaw 9, Paragraph 12, Subset 4, Provision 5.2 -- that the university did not give enough information. For all the other 783,209 bylaws, Ohio State was spot on.
"For everything else we were top of the charts," Smith said. "This one, we did not do as good a job."
And Santa will have absolutely no problem getting into all those chimneys from Zagreb to Zambia.
Smith also called Pryor and the other guys suspended, "great leaders."
Question is where they will be leading in 2011, especially Pryor, who supposedly chose Ohio State because Jim Tressel promised to make him into a pro quarterback, not just use him in the spread offense. This approach would prepare Pryor for his professional career.
Where does he stand now?
"Probably not a first rounder, although a guy can become a first-rounder if one team likes him, as (Tim) Tebow did -- most teams had him lower," said one NFL scout. "(He) should play his senior year, which he won't now probably, to get more accurate. Accuracy is his biggest problem. An athlete who has to prove he's a quarterback."
Therein lies the rub: Pryor is pigeonholed as the "athlete" playing quarterback. He wants to be a quarterback. Except he does no one thing exceptionally well as a quarterback. Except run. There aren't many Mike Vicks in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the incredulity of this entire tale is mind-boggling. Which is pretty much run of the mill for the NCAA, as inexplicable a bureaucracy as ever existed.
Consider that the suspended five still can play in this year's bowl game, because, the NCAA tells us, they were not educated fully on the ramifications of their actions.
Yes, that's what they said.
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was suspended nine games and a bowl game for not telling the truth to NCAA investigators about his visit with Deion Sanders when he was at Oklahoma State last year.
"I guess I should have got into a lot of trouble in college ... maybe I would have gotten less punishment?" Bryant wrote on Twitter, adding: "NCAA is crazy."
Consider Cam Newton, who will play in the BCS championship game even though his dad was going school to school selling his son like a very expensive bag of potatoes. Newton was allowed to keep playing, though, because he didn't know what his father was doing. (That's what the NCAA said!)
Not being aware didn't matter when it came to USC, which took a significant punishment even though it claimed it didn't know what was happening with Reggie Bush.
In Ohio State's case, ignorance is the offered excuse. Poor guys just didn't know the rule -- how is a student-athlete supposed to know, anyway, when they are spending so much time writing term papers and reading about the Industrial Revolution? Smith even said he would appeal the suspensions because the players were trying to help their families in tough economic times.
The only thing missing from the news conference was a wailing banshee.
Spare us the news that the players were not "educated' well enough. They are responsible for their actions, and pretty much every player knows that selling a used jersey or award will net a pocket of cash, and the NCAA only approves cash going to universities.
Maybe it's coincidence, maybe not, but Pryor's mentor and role model is LeBron James. And James was driving a Hummer when he was a high school senior -- a Hummer acquired, mind you, through what was determined to be a legitimate loan to his mother. No doubt the guy would have loaned the same money to a standout history student. (James this week sold sponsorships to his birthday party -- for $10,000.)
Items Pryor and his teammates sold included Big Ten championship rings from 2008, Pryor's Fiesta Bowl Sportsmanship Award and his 2008 gold pants charm. His teammates who were suspended are key players: running back Daniel Herron is the leading rusher; DeVier Posey the second leading receiver,
Herron, tackle Michael Adams and Posey might be able to make the jump to the NFL immediately. The other suspended lineman might find himself on a practice squad.
The problem for Pryor is that he's in limbo, which is never a good place. He's not good enough yet for the NFL, but given the NCAA's decision he may have no choice but to head to the NFL.
At least there getting paid is part of the process.