Okay, before I even begin to try to dive into this article, I want to give you (the reader), an immediate reassurance: I'm for Terrelle Pryor. I like the kid on a personal level. I think he's a tremendously gifted athlete who, when he puts it together mechanically and mentally, is going to be a NIGHTMARE for opposing defensive coordinators to deal with.
Secondly, I'll admit that I, like the vast majority of you out in the reading audience, was in favor of bringing in Terrelle Pryor to relieve the much-maligned incumbent Todd Boeckman following the "Collapse at the Coliseum." I felt—and part of me still feels—that Terrelle Pryor gives the Buckeyes the best chance to win football games.
Now that I've established those preconditions, let's get down to the nitty-gritty.
All that said, how many of you out there in BuckeyeNation or even just spectators of the game sat there after the deflating loss to Penn State and questioned whether Terrelle Pryor was placed in a situation that was FARRRRRRRRR over his head?
How many of you share the same sentiments that I've just shared with you, but still were left feeling like Terrelle Pryor just shouldn't have been in that situation?
What I'm saying sounds insane even as I'm typing it, but part of being a man is being willing to admit when you make a poor decision, whether it be in spite or haste or whatever the triggering means. I'm beginning to feel that Todd Boeckman should never have been benched to begin with, and I am man enough to admit I made a huge mistake as an outspoken fan.
Before I get lynched by BuckeyeNation for stating a very unpopular position, let me fully explain my argument before the tar and feathers come out.
In recent weeks I've seen some VERY ALARMING signs. Not from the coaching staff, who have been in constant support of Terrelle. But from the veteran players on this team and Terrelle Pryor himself.
Explain to me how Terrelle Pryor going to Jim Tressel before Michigan State and telling him that if he isn't moving the ball to "take him out" is a good thing! How does that statement make ANYONE feel that Terrelle Pryor is ready to be out on the field as Ohio State's starting quarterback?
Yet that was the way that was being spun by the media and fans on message boards across the nation. "Oh, what maturity that shows from a young, inexperienced quarterback! What a leader!"
Really? You sure about that, Buckeye fan? Or was it the first red flag that this kid has NO BUSINESS on the football field in this large a capacity?
Call me crazy, but the moment he uttered that phrase to Jim Tressel, he should have been reduced to the package role he was playing before the USC game.
Don't get me wrong—that isn't a slight on Terrelle Pryor in the slightest. It is more the impossible position that Terrelle has been put in by almost everyone. The coaching staff made the move to the phenom because the national loss to USC was devastating to the program, and it drew the ire of BuckeyeNation along with the rest of the nation.
The fanbase, along with the rest of the nation, blew this kid up beyond realistic expectations and hailed him the starting quarterback before he even stepped foot officially into Columbus for summer camp. There are veterans who felt and STILL FEEL that Todd Boeckman should be out there as the starting quarterback.
It's been a no-win situation for Terrelle from the beginning, in my opinion.
But then I think a bad thing happened...Terrelle Pryor stepped in against Troy following USC and performed relatively well, and the Buckeyes won. Then Minnesota...and the Buckeyes won.
Then Wisconsin at Madison...and this was the worst thing that happened: Terrelle Pryor leading the Buckeyes on the final drive for a last minute, game-winning drive against an ABSOLUTELY MEDIOCRE, OVERRATED, Wisconsin Badger football team, in a truly tough atmosphere.
From that point forward, the expectations have had no limits, and I knew that there was going to be eventual fallout.
The seniors, especially Jake Ballard and Brian Hartline, have been outspoken in support of Todd Boeckman, and this HAS CREATED A RIFT in the Ohio State locker room. Anybody who expresses otherwise is not telling you the whole story. While the talk around the situation has been somewhat silenced in recent weeks, you can trust that it's still there and isn't going to go away until this season comes to an end.
Regardless, the Buckeyes continued to find a way to win against Purdue and shocked many with a great performance against Michigan State on the road. But Penn State loomed...and the stage was perfectly set.
I'm sure you're familiar with the images...Pryor fumbling the football coming around the corner on a third and short. Pryor attempting a final heave toward the end zone that fell into a Penn State defender's hands for the game-ending interception. But those weren't the most important images of the game for me...
I was more so focused on a completely inconsolable 19-year-old Pryor, at the end of a long, empty, Ohio State bench with his head (still in his helmet) buried in his hands: another sign leaving me questioning whether Terrelle was ready mechanically, mentally, and emotionally for this moment.
But the final sign that assured me that Jim Tressel and the coaching staff, the fans, and the nation had made a huge mistake toward Terrelle Pryor and owe him a grave apology, was his comment after the game.
"I have never faced adversity like this," said Pryor. His comment was followed up with fellow players stating that Terrelle puts a lot of pressure on himself.
Granted, what better time than now to learn these kinds of lessons for a young player?
That is a point that definitely has truth in it and should absolutely be a part of the discussion. Then again, everyone has to ask themselves if we put Terrelle Pryor in the best chance to be successful.
This wasn't a bad football team we were talking about here in the 2008 Ohio State Buckeyes. This was a team with 20 returning starters, winners of back-to-back outright Big Ten championships, and back-to-back National championship appearances. Whether this team was performing to expectations is irrelevant to me in this argument.
Let me be the first to apologize as a fan to Terrelle Pryor. I'm sorry we placed you in a situation that was, for you, an absolute no-win. We should have kept you on the bottle in regards to your development within this offense and let the 2008 season sink or swim on the shoulders of the sixth-year grayshirt, returning All-Big Ten, senior quarterback Todd Boeckman.
But in our impatience with the recent problems we've faced as a program, we made a hasty decision in putting the entire show on your shoulders, Terrelle. I wish we could take it back, but we can't.
Regardless of the Penn State hiccup, you're our guy now, and we will now sink or swim with you. You ARE OUR FUTURE as a program, and we still think that when you put it all together as a football player, you're going to be a helluva player.
I'm just hoping that we didn't damage your psyche for the rest of the season, because we still can win out and go to the Rose Bowl.
Once again Terrelle, I'm sorry that the fans and I, the coaching staff, and the rest of the nation placed too much on you, too soon.
Please feel free to comment—they are all welcome. Please add me to your favorites and spread the word! Thanks again.
P.S: I swear tonight I will continue Part Six of the Ohio State series. I just have most of the story saved somewhere else where at the moment I can't access it. But I will get that up for you.