Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pryor is all that's wrong with college athletics

Do you think Joe Paterno breathes daily sighs of relief that Terrelle Pryor chose Ohio State instead of Penn State?

The carnage Pryor left in Columbus, Ohio after his uneven and controversial three-year stint with the Buckeyes may be unprecedented for a college athlete since those chaotic days in the 1980s at Southern Methodist University.

And to improve his chances of entering the NFL's supplemental draft, Pryor attempts to add more embarrassment to Ohio State by admitting he took money from a mentor, something he did not bother to inform Ohio State or the NCAA during their investigations of his activities under coach Jim Tressel.

So basically, to bolster his opportunity to make money professionally, Pryor admitted to more wrongdoings to convince the NFL that he would not have been eligible to play next season for Ohio State. Pryor, a highly recruited quarterback four years ago, was already suspended for the first five games of the season for accepting tattoos and cash for items such as his Big Ten championship ring and other memorabilia.

And instead of sitting out those games, Pryor decided to leave school when Tressel resigned under pressure for not immediately reporting the violations when he was informed by a booster. The NFL has allowed Pryor to enter Monday's supplemental draft, a selection process mostly of college players banished from their programs, but commissioner Roger Goddell informed NFL teams that Pryor must sit out the first five regular-season games for the team that drafts him.

In order words, he carried over that Ohio State suspension to the NFL, penalizing Pryor for his sudden revelation that he accepted money from his mentor. This punishment is more than fair for a young man obviously misguided about his own worth and who appears hardly remorseful for his actions.

It's one thing to accept money during those college playing days to feed yourself or your family and it's another to trade in merchandise for tattoos. Pryor was a pro before he even played his first college game, a legend in his own mind more than willing to choose the program that offered him the most perks. While his talent never quite caught up with his ego, Pryor showed flashes of brilliance at Ohio State but always seemingly made sure to reward himself for his moderate accomplishments.

And in order to continue those rewards, he freely admitted to more misdeeds with little consideration of the program and teammates he abruptly disassociated with when it became apparent that Columbus was no longer a welcome place anymore. So a five-game suspension is a little more than a slap on the wrist for someone who deserves more stringent punishment.

Pryor is a product of a college system that is dysfunctional and the blame should be placed on all sides, his parents for allowing him to believe that was somehow being correctly compensated and the university, which allows boosters and alumni to exploit these young men with little repercussions.

The system is wrecked and only a collective effort from coaches, parents, universities and yes, even the players themselves, will correct it. Until then, players such as Terrelle Pryor will take their chances if a five-game suspension is the most severe of consequences.

Somehow, I think he believes it was worth it.