Ohio State right choice for Pryor
Share with others:
If I had a nickel for every time someone asked why Terrelle Pryor didn't pick Pitt or Penn State, I'd be a wealthy man.
OK, so I'd at least have enough to buy a really, really good cup of coffee.
This still seems like a good time to answer the question now that Pryor has made it official and signed on with Ohio State.
Pitt was never going to be it despite the fact that Pryor's father would have loved to see him there. That's fine. There's no rule that says a kid has to stay home and play for the hometown team. In Pryor's case, it's probably good that he is getting away, not that Columbus, Ohio, is on the other side of the world. The pressure on him at Pitt would have been extraordinary. He's the most hyped high school athlete to come out of the city.
But pressure has never seemed to bother Pryor much. He gets better when the games get bigger. The chief reason he never looked at Pitt has to be that Pitt has a tough time putting fannies in the Heinz Field seats. Who wants to play in front of 25,000 when you can play before crowds four times as large at Ohio State? Or at Michigan, which was the other school on Pryor's final list.
You can argue that Pryor could have been the one to make Pitt a big winner and sell a lot of tickets. I'm not sure he has the time for that. Pitt, though taking a big step in the right direction by beating West Virginia Dec. 1, still has a long way to go. It didn't even make it to a bowl game the past three seasons. If Pryor is as good as he appears, he won't be in college all that long. He'll be off to the NFL after three years.
No, Pryor wants to play for a national championship contender. That eliminates Pitt. It also eliminates Penn State. Joe Paterno -- desperate to keep his job amid mounting pressure for him to retire -- can talk all he wants about Penn State competing for the national title next season, but the truth is his program is a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten Conference program. It's mostly been that way for a long time.
It's hard to believe Pryor even considered Penn State -- despite the coaching mess with Paterno and despite Paterno's son, Jay, being the quarterbacks coach -- unless you know Tom Bradley, the defensive coordinator. He's a fabulous recruiter and an even better person. His passion for Penn State football is off the charts. Pryor loved his sincerity. So did Pryor's father.
Bradley darned near pulled off a miracle.
Considering everything that's happening at Penn State with the Paternos, it would have been one of the all-time unbelievable recruiting gets if Bradley had been able to lure Pryor to Happy Valley.
Pryor said he would have considered Penn State more if he knew Bradley was going to be the next head coach. That was one promise Bradley couldn't make to him. It's starting to appear as if the Penn State administration is looking for a clean break from the Joe Paterno era and will look outside for its next coach. Otherwise, why wouldn't it name Bradley as Paterno's successor when the time comes? Especially when it could have meant getting Pryor?
Penn State president Graham Spanier, who always has been weak when it comes to dealing with Paterno, has allowed the coaching situation to become a circus.
It's become clear at least some on the school's board of trustees are disgusted because of it.
You're starting to see that disgust leak out in drips to the media as a way to turn up the heat on Spanier to push Paterno out. This can't have a happy ending for the stubborn, selfish Paterno, who, at last check, was talking about coaching for two, three, four, five more years.
Despite all of that, Penn State still wouldn't have been a bad choice for Pryor if he played defense. If I had a son, I'd love for him to play for Bradley. But a quarterback? There's just no way.
Anthony Morelli, who has marvelous talent, didn't make much progress at Penn State. He might not make it in the NFL. Michael Robinson was more of a great winner at Penn State than a great quarterback. He's not playing quarterback in the NFL. Zach Mills got worse instead of better at Penn State. Who knows where he's at now?
Let me ask you the question this time:
If you were Pryor, would you put your future in Jay Paterno's hands?
I didn't think so.
So save your nickel. Just know that Pryor made a smart choice picking Ohio State over Pitt and Penn State. If you ask me, the kid is just as wise as he is talented.
First Published March 24, 2008 12:00 am