As the nation's top high school recruit in 2008, Terrelle Pryor refused to choose a school on signing day. He instead waited more than a month, pointing the national spotlight gloriously on himself before finally choosing Ohio State.
As a Buckeye quarterback, he had a propensity for driving a different car every few months and living where other college kids don't normally live. Even after getting caught up in NCAA rule violations, his athletic director and conference commissioner embarrassed themselves by politicking to keep him bowl eligible.
It's apparent in reading ex-Buckeye coach Jim Tressel's 139-page interview with the NCAA enforcement staff that Tressel was petrified of Pryor's attention-starved personality. So much so that Tressel maintained frequent contact with Pryor's mentor, Ted Sarniak, who would speak to the quarterback three or four times a day.
"You gotta remind him," Tressel said he would tell ted Sarniak, "that he's under a microscope."
It was advice that never took. Pryor, after all, was the guy who pulled up in a nice Nissan 350Z to the team meeting following Tressel's resignation.
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The guidelines have never appeared to be a big concern for Terrelle Pryor, which is why he finds himself wondering if the NFL will strictly interpret its rules and thus keep him out of football for a year.
On June 7, Pryor announced he was leaving Ohio State and entering the NFL's supplemental draft. He was met with mostly good riddance in Ohio due to his role in costing Tressel his job. The question is whether or not he was ever eligible to make such a move. If not, he'd have to wait and work out on his own until the April 2012 draft.
"[The supplemental draft] is for players whose circumstances have changed after the regular draft," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Yahoo! Sports on Monday.
The problem for Pryor is he originally chose to return to OSU for his senior season and in reversing course, he may not fit any of the NFL's set criteria to be eligible.
"Flunked out of school, kicked off the team, graduated and decided to leave school," Aiello listed.
While it doesn't seem like Ohio State wanted him around anymore – he was already suspended for the first five games of the season – he wasn't technically thrown off the team. He also hadn't flunked out of school. And he certainly didn't graduate and then decide to turn pro.
Aiello said that as of Monday night, the NFL hadn't even scheduled the supplemental draft due to the labor lockout that finally concluded. A ruling on Pryor is still pending.
And so now here is a moment of comeuppance and there is no lack of fans (even Buckeye fans) who are enjoying the possibility of the system finally catching up with Pyror.
What his coaches, mentors and the NCAA never would do, perhaps the NFL will: Make Terrelle Pryor follow the rules.
While the sentiment is understandable, it's also shallow and unnecessary.
The NFL should approve Pryor to enter the supplemental draft.
Look, Pryor isn't some sympathetic victim, but this isn't exactly the most important, iron-clad rule ever invented.
The NFL doesn't want players gaming the draft process to finesse their way to their chosen team or to skip the more comprehensive scouting of the traditional draft. In 1985, quarterback Bernie Kosar used the supplemental draft to get picked by the Cleveland Browns rather than Minnesota Vikings. That's caused the league to tighten things up.
"It is not a mechanism for bypassing the regular draft," Aiello said.
Fair enough. One can see why the NFL doesn't want an X-factor such as Pryor going through an abbreviated scouting process, especially in this post-lockout free-for-all. There are major questions about his ability to play quarterback, which is why he was returning to Ohio State in the first place – even with the lengthy suspension.
"The sooner the better because we've got to set up a workout for him; we've got to get him meetings with teams; we've got have him taking physicals," Drew Rosenhaus, Pryor's agent, told ESPN. "So we've got a lot of work to do."
Then there are the character and maturity issues that troubled even Tressel. If Pryor can help bring down an iconic college coach – although let's note Tressel did himself in by covering up Pryor's misconduct – then which NFL executive is secure enough to hire him without a long look?
That said, Pryor didn't lock out the players, the league did. And he didn't plan on using the supplemental draft to get over on the NFL. His circumstances did change. It's understandable the NFL doesn't have a specific line item about a storied program imploding over a memorabilia-for-tattoos swap, but that's essentially what happened at Ohio State.
Besides, the idea that Pryor would be eligible to enter the NFL if he simply flunked out shows this isn't supposed to be some moral hurdle.
In a bit of irony, Pryor's camp may argue that his actions were so egregious that the NCAA should have declared him permanently ineligible rather than just suspend him for five games. As such, he should be eligible for the draft.
There's no doubt Pryor has had the rules rewritten for him time and time again. And while it would be easy to say enough is enough, it's the spirit of the statute, not the letter that matters.
This is one rule Pryor deserves to have bent for him.
- Terrelle Pryor
- Jim Tressel