Ohio State Football: Why It Is Time to Forgive Terrelle Pryor for His Mistakes

Tim BielikSenior Analyst IAugust 13, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  (M) Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes is helped off the field by a member of the Buckeyes support team after the Buckeyes 31-26 victory against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Monday night, Terrelle Pryor finally took his first actual snap of his NFL career in preseason play for the Oakland Raiders.

Pryor had some interesting moments in his first snap of live football action since the (vacated) 2011 Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas.

A lot has changed since then, including the departure of Jim Tressel, the most single-season losses Ohio State has suffered in more than 100 years and a postseason ban in the 2012 season.

It's not all bad though, as the school hired a coach named Urban Meyer, whose career skyrocketed after beating Ohio State in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game, two years before Pryor stepped foot in Columbus as a Buckeye.

Understandably, many Buckeyes fans will be as torn on Terrelle Pryor as baseball fans are on Pete Rose and steroids.

But maybe it is time for Buckeyes fans to forgive Terrelle Pryor, because, ironically enough, the program is better because of what he did in a way.

Without Pryor and the other players getting suspended, the chain of events might not have brought Urban Meyer to Ohio State.

That's reaching quite a bit, obviously. And that also doesn't mean Ohio State might not have been fine if Pryor had not done what he did.

You can argue that if Pryor, Tressel and others were never suspended or punished, Ohio State might have had a chance to play for a national championship last season.

The defense obviously had its issues, but having Pryor, Dan Herron and DeVier Posey together for a full senior season last year would have helped make things smoother.

The impact Herron and Posey's respective returns had on the team certainly helped them get to the Gator Bowl a year ago. Having the Suspended Five back all year would've made a huge difference.

Ohio State might not have been able to beat either LSU or Alabama, but it would've certainly had a chance to play for a Big Ten championship and yet another trip to the BCS, where it had gone for the past six years before last season.

Pryor's transgressions brought a lot of shame not only to Ohio State and Tressel, but to himself as well, as he cost himself a shot at an excellent encore instead of fading out into relative obscurity.

Fast forward about a year-and-a-half, where Pryor is in Oakland, Tressel at an administrative position in Akron and Meyer is the coach at Ohio State.

What a difference a year-and-a-half makes, when Pryor and Tressel had finally beaten the SEC, and Meyer stepped down as head coach at Florida.

While we don't know if Pryor has changed or matured, we know he's been through a very tough time in the past year.

He's lost both his father and mentor and went through a very difficult rookie season with the Raiders.

It also hasn't been rosy for anyone who's been involved with Ohio State the past two years.

It's always hard to forgive, but Ohio State looks to be in a better place in spite of Pryor.

Pryor came in with the expectation of leading Ohio State to a national championship and winning a Heisman Trophy.

He had some good seasons but left a huge black mark on himself and the university, although the latter is crawling out of the hole.

Because the program is now heading in the right direction, maybe the best thing for Ohio State fans to do is to let bygones be bygones and forgive Pryor. They should remember all the good he gave.

This doesn't mean they should forget the damage he did to the program, but they should understand that Pryor's bad decisions will haunt him more than the program. The program is in a better shape, but Pryor may never be what he could've been—and probably should've been—if he hadn't done what he did.

And there is his greatest shame.


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