Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State Buckeyes have received an early lump of coal in their scarlet stockings from the NCAA today.
ESPN reported today that Pryor, Mike Adams, Daniel Herron, Devier Posey, and Solomon Thomas will be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for receiving improper benefits ranging from $1,000 to $2,500.
They will also be forced to repay money received for selling their 2008 Big Ten Championship rings. Pryor must also repay money he received for selling his 2008 Gold Pants and his 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award in addition to his championship ring.
There's no doubt that Ohio State will suffer in the first half of their 2011 campaign, with the current thought being that Pryor will bolt to the NFL to avoid missing games and losing draft stock, and without Adams, Herron (the team's leading rusher in 2010), and Thomas, Ohio State will be forced to travel to Miami to take on the Hurricanes and take on the Michigan State Spartans in Columbus while being woefully shorthanded.
Even after the suspensions lapse, the Buckeyes will have to travel to Lincoln to take on Nebraska.
They may wear red like Santa, but it looks they're on the naughty list this year.
It's obvious at this point that Ohio State will suffer as a team because of these suspensions. They now have a stain on their legacy as well (suffice it to say that this easily eclipses Michigan's summer practice coaching situation).
However, how will this affect Terrelle Pryor's legacy as a Buckeye?
Despite the hype he's gained during his time in Columbus, and the smug satisfaction Ohio State gained when they stole him away from both Michigan and Penn State, Pryor's three years as the Buckeyes' QB has not been all roses (no Rose Bowl pun intended).
For all the talk of his greatness, Pryor has never won a national championship, despite his playing under Jim Tressel, and alongside a lot of talent (Ohio State had the fourth-best recruiting class in 2008 and the third best in 2009; other years before and after also featured top-20 recruiting classes as well).
It also seems as if he has choked at times, losing to Texas in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, to a USC team led by a freshman quarterback in Columbus and unranked Purdue during the 2009 season, and to Wisconsin this past season one week after rising to No. 1 and gaining an inside track to the National Championship.
Simply put, he couldn't win big games, and sometimes choked against teams that should have been beaten easily.
Not only that, he's gained a reputation of being immature as well. Since his early days of playing football, he's been convinced that he's the best thing to ever happen to sports. After several years, it's likely gone to his head a bit.
It would come as no surprise if Pryor really did believe he was first-round pick, given his rumored arrogance and clashes with Jim Tressel over the years. It seems that these revelations about the sale of merchandise add to his record of immaturity and show a clear lack of judgement.
In the end, Terrelle Pryor may have had quite a bit of success during his time at Ohio State (three BCS Bowls, three Big Ten Championships, 3-0 against Michigan), he never quite reached the level of hype that surrounded him when he arrived in Columbus.
His inability to win big games and his immaturity have hurt his legacy, and with these NCAA sanctions, his legacy has certainly been tarnished.
What happens now is anyone's guess.
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