Watching my inbox fill up with the indignant wrath of Ohio State fans deeply invested in every obscure aspect of their Buckeyes' honor is so much fun, it really is. So much so that, even as reluctant as I am to devote two posts in the same week to something as ephemeral, unreliable and ultimately irrelevant as a 40-yard dash time, I feel somewhat obligated after my innocent but incredulous response to Terrelle Pryor's reportedly running a faster time than all but one player at the entire NFL Combine to note the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's follow-up today, which insists that, yes, Terrelle Pryor really ran a 4.33 this spring. Everyone around the Buckeye program seems to agree, including Pryor's teammates, who saw the time posted, and even coach Jim Tressel, who set aside his usual skepticism despite the fact that no one seems to have witnessed the actual sprint:
However, when asked at Thursday night's team photo event, several Buckeyes once again confirmed that they saw that 4.33 posted. Tressel said he used to question the timers at Ohio State about slow trigger fingers making players faster than they looked. But he said this was timed electronically, which produces more reliable numbers.
Posted times are rife for legitimate skepticism, unless you somehow actually believe, for instance, that Florida currently has four different players listed with sub-4.3 40 times, not even including the fastest player in the country, Jeff Demps, who didn't run in the spring. To put that into perspective, a sub-4.3 is faster than anyone at the latest combine, at which Gator speedster Percy Harvin turned in a 4.41 -- the sixth-best time posted by any of the future millionaires in Indianapolis but somehow still not good enough to get him on the Gators' top-10 board back home. As I posted Tuesday, there's plausible speculation that even world-class Olympians don't break 4.3 on the first 40 yards of record-breaking sprints. So I think it's safe to say posted times can be slightly exaggerated. They just don't pass the basic smell test. And a 4.33 for a 235-pound quarterback absolutely falls into that category.
Although Tressel didn't actually witness it (which probably would have been a violation of the NCAA's draconian offseason "voluntary" workout rules), an electronic time would be vastly more reliable than a time off a handheld watch, which notoriously tends to shave a tenth of a second or so off of the final number. But even the coach himself apparently doesn't take that as inviolable, since word of the alleged 4.33 surprised him enough that he was willing to hedge it a bit:
"Let's say it's only 4.38 instead of 4.33," Tressel said. "It's fast. ... I assumed he'd be better than 4.5, but I'm not sure I was sitting there thinking he'd be 4.33."
It's fast. On that, we can agree: Terrelle Pryor is a unique breed of athlete who's going to spend the next two years (at least) outrunning almost everyone he lines up against in the Big Ten, or anywhere else, very probably including Ohio State practices, winning championships and scorching scouts' eyeballs with his all-around Vince Young-osity. And if these outrageous claims ever turn out to be accurate, he should try his hand at humiliating the OSU track team while he's at it.