It did not come as a huge surprise when Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel, Athletic Director Gene Smith and President Gordon Gee decided that Tressel’s resignation was in the best interest of the program. It also was not too much of a shock to see Terrelle Pryor forgo his senior year to (most likely) enter the NFL’s Supplemental Draft.
Right now many look at Ohio State in a bad light and do not expect too much of them this year. But, with the perpetrators departed, Ohio State may have alleviated some.
We all know how Tressel won titles and brought much success to the program. We all know how much Terrelle Pryor’s talent helped them to succeed (though he underperformed for his hype). What many do not know is how their absence may help the Buckeyes in the future.
Tressel, as well as Pryor, brought much scrutiny to the program. And, while they tried to ward off the critics, Ohio State knew that these figures had become a burden.
Most reports of Tressel’s behavior cast him as a man with integrity and a great person to be around, but with him gone they no longer have someone calling the shots with a tainted reputation. Interim coach Luke Fickell is no messiah, but he will give the Buckeyes a feeling of having a fresh start with the cheater out of the picture.
Many may contend that no one on the team cares, but I would beg to differ. Throughout camp, when their coach tells them something, players’ minds will not be clouded with angst over how their leader got smacked with penalties when he met with the NCAA Committee on Infractions. During the season, it would be a more complex situation to be taking orders during games from one coach, and follow instructions from a different one during the week.
Having one man in charge the entire time will lead to a more unified squad, and in times like these, Ohio State will take solace in whatever they can.
Pryor, too, will change the dynamic behind the scenes for this team with his separation from the school.
One of the most looked forward to games this season will be on October 8 when the Buckeyes take a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska. With Pryor in the equation, one of the major storylines was whether or not members of the Tat Five would be immediately inserted into the lineup over guys who had worked their behinds off to fill in.
With players like wide receiver DeVier Posey, it will not be too difficult to make that decision as Ohio State has no other proven outside threat. The defensive line is always a unit that rotates many guys in and out. When senior Solomon Thomas returns, it will simply be a matter of getting him into the rotation.
With the quarterback position it was not quite so simple. Aside from the fact that fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman and freshman Braxton Miller would be competing for the spot for the first five games, whether or not to put Pryor back in on that Saturday would make that position one of the most scrutinized in all of college football. With the Pennsylvania-native gone, Miller and Bauserman will know at the start of training camp that they are gunning for a starting position, not just a filler role.
With some internal struggles (that were sure to occur) out of the way, the coaches will have a load taken off as well. Instead of keeping Pryor up to speed while they facilitate a struggle for the job, they can focus on improving Bauserman’s abilities or helping Miller get more acclimated to the college game. Add in the fact that I have not heard one positive report about Pryor’s locker room attitude, and the Buckeyes are sure to have this team moving in the right direction at a more efficient pace.
Fans in Columbus do not want to see the departure of a man who brought them their first national title in 32 years. I am sure many Ohio State fans would like to see Pryor participate in his senior year and possibly contend for a Heisman. But, there is plenty of silver lining in a Pryor-less, and Tressel-less program.