Why Ohio State Could Benefit from Terrelle Pryor Choosing Michigan

Michael RiceCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2008

He's arguably the most talented high-school athlete in the country and he certainly demands the most attention from the media.

His name is Terrelle Pryor, of Jeannette Senior High School in Pennsylvania, and he has not yet made up his mind on which college he will attend next year.

The picture may still be foggy even when national signing day rolls around next Wednesday.

Pryor's most recent announcement revealed he may not sign with any team on February 6. He may elect to wait until he has a chance to make a west-coast visit to Oregon. This comes as a surprise to many in the Midwest, who were beginning to believe it was a two-horse race between rivals Ohio State and Michigan.

"I'd say it's about 50-50 that I'll push things back," said Pryor, indicating he is split about the decision to sign or postpone.

It appears, most likely, that he will still select one of the Big Ten schools, which would make it easier for his wheelchair-bound father to come watch him play.

Look for a moment, then, at those two scenarios.

If the Buckeyes land Pryor, they add another blue chip to an already-strong recruiting class. They bolster their squad for another great regular season. They help secure their powerhouse status now and down the road, entrenching themselves as the elite Big Ten team.

But what is the problem with the Buckeyes right now? They have had little trouble in the past couple of regular seasons, and a major factor in them folding on the biggest stage has been their lack of meaningful football played in conference.

Over the past two years, they haven't been challenged by a great Big Ten foe, ignoring for a moment their loss to Illinois. The few close games they have had did not come against premier programs (and yes, that includes Michigan). Michigan has been in decline of late, despite a big bowl win over Florida this year.

Without Pryor, what do they have?

The old, strong teams of the Midwest are falling behind the talent-ridden south. What Ohio State really needs is some stronger competition in October and November.

Look at scenario two.

If Michigan were to land Pryor, he has the opportunity to infuse its squad with new hope. He is an instant-impact type of player, especially if given the keys to new coach Rich Rodriguez's Wolverine-mobile. Michigan becomes stronger right away with a player like Pryor, who has the potential to resurrect a program that may not be too far away.

High-school recruits want to play against the best. If they see Ohio State and Michigan atop the nation, they may look more strongly at a school like Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin, or Michigan State. The Big Ten slowly rises from the ashes of college football.

Yes, this is a dramatization. But one can imagine a plausible scenario not too far off from this.

Ohio State will get its recruits. They will have the talent going forward. What they need is the rest of the conference to do its part. They need real competition game-in and game-out; struggles like that of the *gasp* SEC.

It may sound crazy initially, but Terrelle Pryor at Michigan could help Ohio State more than if Pryor were to choose The Ohio State University.

It could happen by slightly strengthening the Big Ten, and helping the conference emerge again slowly over the next five or ten years.

A stronger-yet Ohio State squad, or a rejuvenated Big Ten? Either way, the Buckeyes could be winners.