June 16, 2011
As Ohio State continues to clean up the mess left after quarterback Terrelle Pryor decided to leave the school and turn pro last week, there are several other schools that should be rejoicing about Pryor not picking them during his big press conference four years ago.
Of course at the time, teams such as Michigan, Penn State and Oregon would have given anything to snag the nation's top recruit, which is why hindsight is definitely 20/20. But Penn State quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno doesn't buy into the idea that the Nittany Lions should be relieved that Pryor decided to move out of state. If anything, the entire saga with Pryor and Ohio State makes JayPa a little sad about college football.
Paterno writes a regular column for StateCollege.com and Thursday's topic details Paterno's feelings about the "dark cloud over the game I have committed a good chunk of my life to":
This time of year, college football is generally out of the spotlight until late July or August when fall camp begins for the upcoming season.
Not this summer: It has been a steady chorus of allegations, accusations and investigations resulting in resignations and NCAA litigation. (That's some good final-syllable alliteration)
At recent alumni events, I've been asked by Penn Staters about the Ohio State situation and about Terrelle Pryor. The night he left school, I even got messages from people who were almost gleeful about the latest developments.
When Pryor went to Ohio State, both Joe Paterno and I were blamed by some media members and fans for being the reason he went elsewhere. Most would expect that I was happy the way things turned out.
Watching how this story has ended hasn't given me any joy. Quite the contrary, it has bothered and even saddened me.
During the current NCAA investigation, it has been easy for members of the media to vilify a young man for mistakes he made. The decisions and the path he chose were all a result of behavior that was learned from adults.
It is not instinct; it is learned behavior.
Where else in the world can a 17- or 18-year-old get a national television audience to tell everyone where he is going to college? What are we telling these young men? We grant them an inflated sense of their self-importance, and then we are surprised when they believe the hype we created for them.
The cruelest lesson for all of the young men out there is how quickly it all turns on you. The members of the media and public who threw you bouquets your whole life are the same ones slinging rocks at you as soon as things go badly. The people who placed you atop the pedestal have become the ones trying to knock you off.
Most of what Paterno says is true, but it's ignorant not to place some of the blame on Pryor.
<Getting on my saopbox in 3, 2, 1...>
He's not a kid, he's an adult who made some poor choices and will face little repercussion for them. The debt will ultimately fall on Ohio State and current and future players while Pryor is off making money and playing pro ball.
Ohio State did have a lack of institutional control, but Pryor is still his own person. He knows the NCAA rules. He knows right from wrong. And the fact that he was a football players with "an inflated sense of self-importance" doesn't excuse his actions.
So yes, we can all feel bad for the monster Pryor became thanks to his hype, but at some point, people have to be held accountable.