Just like that, Terrell Pryor is gone. (Nothing like releasing the news of your departure through your lawyer.) And right on the heels of that news came an ESPN story that Pryor made thousands of dollars through the sale of memorabilia. And even that’s not the topper, according to SPORTSbyBROOKS:
… Midway through the 2010 football season, Talbott was ordered by Ohio State officials to completely disassociate himself from the program. That move by the OSU athletic administration may indicate that members of the school’s athletic department knew of Pryor’s activities involving Talbott long before the NCAA recently discovered the payment paper trail from Talbott to the former Buckeye quarterback.
At this point, Ohio State’s reputation has taken enough of a hit that calling it tarnished would probably be a step up in class. And it’s going to take a while to recover. As Graham Watson puts it,
… The ESPN story marked a seedy end to a career that never really reached its potential and what’s worse is that Ohio State is left holding the bag. While it’s been speculated that the university might need to clean house after the Tressel firing, this almost certainly seals that.
What’s most unfair (and USC knows this feeling) is that while Pryor continues his career in the NFL or the Canadian league, Ohio State and its future recruiting classes will bear all the weight of his actions. Pryor will go on to make millions somewhere while the university struggles to replace the pieces of what will be an NCAA penalty ravaged football program. And it won’t be quick. Depending on the punishment, Ohio State could be a shell of itself for a decade…
Which leads me to ask Georgia fans the perennial water cooler question – would you trade places? It’s a pretty good comparison. Both schools were faced with a similar problem, although Ohio State’s was certainly larger in scope. And at this point, both star players have elected to leave their schools for professional careers.
Georgia and A.J. Green stepped up, told the truth from the beginning and were rewarded for their efforts with a season to forget. Knowing what you know now about Ohio State’s likely fate, would you be happier if the Dawgs had followed Tressel’s path, hidden the truth and taken the short-term rewards (12-1 season and a BCS game victory)? Or would you need even better results to live with the aftermath of decisions by a head coach and star player to ignore the rules?
UPDATE: Michael Elkon asks a good question.
… We are coming off of a season in which several teams lost key players because of suspensions for improper benefits. Ohio State’s head coach (and arguably their compliance department, which seems unable to find evidence of wrongdoing despite media outlets finding stories like candies tumbling out of a piñata) ignored evidence of similar violations on the part of his players. Doesn’t the NCAA have to reward schools like Georgia and North Carolina for being proactive in dealing with improper benefits by showing that the alternative is significantly worse?