Just Ducky: One Decision in 2008 and Its Ties to the 2010 National Title Picture

Kevin PaulSenior Analyst IOctober 5, 2010

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 02: Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes avoids a tackle attempt by Clay Nurse #97 of the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 24-13. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Just sign on the dotted line, that’s all.

Recruiting changes and decisions affect the football landscape more often than a college analyst mutters the words “Denard Robinson.” But there’s one decision in particular that has sent shockwaves all the way to this year’s emerging national championship picture.

Terrelle Pryor’s decision to attend “The OSU” is one that we should be talking about when BCS Bowl Week arrives, because in the end, it’s turning out to have an impact on the title game itself.

You see, what many people don’t realize is that when National Signing Day arrived a few years ago, Terrelle Pryor chose to delay his decision to put more thought into it.

On top of that, Pryor was also not just considering Ohio State and Michigan as his final destination.

No, two more schools were considered to be in the mix.

Some are aware that Penn State was one, especially considering that Pryor attended high school in Pennsylvania.  That, plus Pryor’s Dad was often mentioned as being very fond of Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions’ program.

But there was also one more: The Oregon Ducks.

We may never know if either school had a legitimate shot, but each was still considered in the mix for Pryor, as reported by USA Today’s Gary Mihoces in February 2008.

“They’re definitely in the picture,” Pryor said of Oregon in 2008.  “I’ll be taking a flight out to Oregon to check it out.”

Obviously, the real reason for bringing this up today is this: There are three standout teams in college football to date: Alabama, Ohio State, and Oregon.

Here’s the key, though.  The Oregon Ducks are not afraid to open up the offense and let loose, while “Tressel-Ball” is about as conservative as the sweater vest that the Buckeyes head coach wears on game day.

For the “nutheads” that want to chime in and state otherwise, pointing out the fact that the Buckeyes threw the ball 37 times in last year’s Rose Bowl win against Oregon—that’s fine.

There will also be a number of critics that will point out that Tressel has hinted that Ohio State could throw the ball 30 times a game throughout 2010, as reported by The Plain Dealer before the season began.

Sure, words are all fine and dandy.

After all, somewhere along the line, someone has likely been quoted as saying that Les Miles can tell time, too.

But how will the playcalling schemes pan out for OSU when the big-time schools arrive on the schedule, especially if a team can find a way to contain Pryor?

Certainly, Pryor is a rare talent—and one that can throw and run.  The kid needed to be thrown into the fire immediately to help hone his skills both within and without the passing game.

While Pryor was indeed tossed in as a freshman at Ohio State, he was often coddled along the way, only throwing 165 passes during his first season.

Entering the 2010 Big Ten schedule, the Buckeyes didn’t cruise by a lower-end Big Ten team in Illinois last Saturday.

In particular, Pryor left part of the game against the Illini with an injury and finished the day 9-of-16 passing, for only 76 yards, coupled with 104 yards on the ground.

There are definitely still some question marks in place regarding the Buckeyes offense.

So, sure, Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes have enjoyed a great deal of success in the Big Ten over the last few years, but everything would have been just ducky if TP was wiping the Pac-10 clean instead.

The point (and dream) being built here isn’t just that the college football world was potentially close to having an Oregon Ducks offense led by LaMichael James and Terrelle Pryor, two of the fastest players in all of college football.

Instead, we obviously know that didn’t happen, and the Ducks had Jeremiah Masoli in place, who was eventually dismissed for disciplinary reasons. The heir apparent was Darron Thomas, who has filled in quite nicely in the Ducks offense.

The point is more towards the fact that we shouldn’t be holding both Alabama and Ohio State as the clear favorites to hoist up that crystal football in early January.

Instead, the college football world should embrace its new pigskin love triangle, all circling around this one decision in February 2008.

It’s about time that the east coast bias gets dropped and the Oregon Ducks get more hype as a frontline title contender.

After all, this is an Oregon team that has scored 42+ points in each of its games, including 52 against Stanford last Saturday.

This is an Oregon team that is second in the country in rushing offense and first in scoring offense.

This is also an Oregon team that features Heisman candidate RB LaMichael James, who leads the nation in rushing yards vs. AP ranked teams with 257.  James also has 712 yards on the season, featuring an 8.0 average and 7 TD’s.

The Ducks have the kind of speed that can put up a show against an SEC powerhouse like Alabama and create an exciting national championship game matchup that could rival that of Texas and USC a few years ago.

That is, of course, if the Crimson Tide can survive the rigors of its SEC schedule.

For weeks, the signs have been pointing towards Ohio State and Alabama meeting in the national title game.

But the Ducks are here, too, and you can thank Terrelle Pryor for his decision, because we wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for him.


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