Last Saturday, the Purdue Boilermakers (2-5) embarrassed the Ohio State Buckeyes (5-2) during a 26-16 upset. Ohio State, who had been relying on their strong defense all season, just were out played, and plain beaten up, by the meek, and little, Boilermakers. This was not only an embarrassment to the team, but an embarrassment to all Ohio State fans. The reason for this embarrassment is one player, a guy who turned the ball over four times, though he tried to twice more, #2, Terrelle Pryor.
After being manhandled in the BCS National Championship for the second year in a row, this time by LSU (which I attended, much to my disgust), OSU was on the search for a good backup quarterback. Troy Smith, winner of the 2006 Heisman Trophy, had left and their current starter, Todd Boeckman, who was a first team Big-Ten player, was starting his final year. The Buckeyes needed a good backup, and somebody who would be amazing when he started.
Looking to the east, Coach Jim Tressel found his backup in a young athlete from Pennsylvania. Terrelle Pryor was playing for Jeannette Senior High School, and was considered the best nationwide recruit of his class. The kid could run, pass, and score. It looked like Pryor would be a Godsend, and that all of OSU’s troubles would soon be over. With Pryor at the reigns, there would be Heismans, National Championships, and everything that a true OSU fan would desire. #11 signed with the Buckeyes, became #2, and the new era was upon us.
Fast-forward a year, when OSU is playing USC out in California. The Buckeyes are decimated, and leave the state with a 35-3 loss hanging over their heads. Boeckman had been sacked countless times, and the offense just stagnated. A week later, the Buckeyes took to the field, and #2 was leading the offense (apparently, I was one of the few students opposed to this idea). The new era had started, and Pryor was holding the reins.
With Pryor at the helm, the Buckeyes were looking decent. Well, the team was looking decent; Pryor was somewhat struggling. The kid fumbled the ball, threw many picks, and had bad judgment. He simply didn’t seem to understand the game at this level, and it was clearly a problem for him. Of course, he was a freshman, so we Buckeye fans were able to forgive him.
Fast-forward again, to 2009. Terrelle Pryor was named Big-Ten Player of the Year before the season started (can we say overrated?), and the highly ranked Buckeyes were ready to dominate during the season. The superstar would get revenge on USC for what they did the year before, and he would become the second sophomore to win the Heisman (Bradford was a redshirt, and doesn't count). Clearly, the Buckeyes would make it to Pasadena and play in the National Championship, and they would beat whomever (hopefully Florida) they found there.
Of course, this didn’t pan out like it was planned. Instead, the Buckeyes lost a close one to USC, and they almost lost to Navy. The season started to look better, as the Buckeyes shut out Toledo and Illinois, back-to-back. Pryor looked to be gaining some composure, though he was still making mistakes. Purdue, however, decided that it was time to show the Buckeyes that their winning ways were over.
Now that the Buckeyes lost a game to Purdue, and have debuted at #19 on the BCS initial standings, what is next for Ohio State. If you look at the fan blogs, as well as the comments on the site of the local paper, it is clear that the fans want Jim Tressel to be fired. Never mind that has the highest win percentage of any OSU coach (well, any that has coached for more than a year), or that he keeps on beating Michigan, or that he has five Big Ten Titles – nope, he must go.
Me, on the other hand, I wonder why we don’t just let Pryor go. I mean, face it, Tressel is a great coach, and the kid just plain sucks.
Pryor is clearly one of those quarterbacks who were overrated when he came into college. He has talent, and lots of it, but he just can not use it. The kid doesn’t run at the right time, doesn’t throw well, and he looks down his receiver. That might have worked back in high school, when he was playing against a bunch of tiny towns and small programs, but it doesn’t work at college, especially not at a nationally ranked school. He also has a lack of judgment, which the Michael Vick incident clearly exemplifies. To make it worse, he has fumbled the ball 12 times (5 for turnovers) and thrown eight interceptions (on only 10 touchdown passes). Clearly, this kid is not that great.
Of course, many fans blame Tressel for this. They think that it is the anemic play calling, the lack of a spread offense, and other folly. They want an offensive coordinator, a quarterback coach, and anything else that might make Mr. Pryor play better. Most importantly, they want Pryor moved to a spot that better suits him, either a different offensive type (read, spread or wildcat), as a wide out, or even as a running back. The fans can not believe that this person they placed so high on a pedestal sucks so badly, and they need to find something else to blame.
Maybe they should blame Pryor, as he clearly has caused these problems himself. He wanted to go to OSU so he could learn to pass, and that is what he is trying. His recruiting agreement probably was worded to let him pass when he wants, the number of snaps he gets, and what position he plays, all of which limits Tressel’s ability to coach. Basically, Pryor screwed himself, and all of the Buckeyes, when he decided that he should be something that he is not. Now that he has realized it, he is acting out (talking back to Tressel, the eye black, turning his back to the coach while be talked to, etc.) and acting like, well, a toddler. Maybe it is time to change this.
I suggest that Jim Tressel puts Joe Bauserman (the current backup) into the game on Saturday. While Minnesota is a tough opponent, I believe that Bauserman can throw the ball well enough to win the game (something that Pryor can not do). This punishment to Pryor should calm him down, teach him a lesson, and make him work for his spot. It shows that he has lost favor, is no longer guaranteed anything, and that he has to work for it. Maybe a little competition could help drive this wild toddler towards puberty, and make him the player that he was meant to be.
If Todd Boeckman and his family were less classy, they would be holding their bellies and laughing right now.