A Friendly Warning For Buckeye Fans

By George M. Thomas
Updated: March 21, 2008

AKRON –There are two words akin to saying ”Michigan Wolverines” for many Ohio State Buckeyes fans: ”Maurice Clarett.”

If you had the luxury of catching Terrelle Pryor’s press conference on ESPNews announcing that he’d grace the Buckeyes with his presence for the upcoming college football season, fans saw a player who could get coach Jim Tressel’s team over that national championship hump.

I got another impression, and I thought I was the only one until hearing a replay of a Mel Kiper Jr. appearance on ESPN Radio. In that segment, Kiper said in so many words that Pryor came across as arrogant and smug.

Kiper added that the quarterback out of Jeannette, Pa., disrespected Penn State University by saying that it was too country for him.

Count me as one who believes Joe Paterno is way past his prime when it comes to coaching college football, and if I were a prospective athlete looking to attend a university, a metropolitan campus probably would be more appealing, but do you have to say that on national television?

Of course, misspeaking in such a manner can be chalked up to youth, right? It would be easy to do so, were it not for a recent brawl that involved Pryor during his high school team’s run to the state basketball championship.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, one of Pryor’s assistant coaches broke his glasses while trying to stop Pryor from getting involved. There have been other rumors swirling around the young man regarding his conduct.

During his press conference Wednesday, Pryor casually dismissed questions about his image in a statement that drips with arrogance and a sense of entitlement.

”I’m not worried about that. I think the football field speaks for itself. That’s why you’re here, right? Whether I was a bad kid or not, you’re still here,” he said.

Yes, the media were there. When he didn’t sign his national letter of intent last month, reporters were there, too, although we all knew he wouldn’t sign.

Pryor has said time and again he doesn’t like the spotlight’s glare. He doesn’t look to be center stage, he says, but you don’t hold a news conference to say you haven’t decided on a college if you don’t enjoy the attention.

Given that he delayed his decision by almost six weeks and got his 15 minutes in that spotlight without having to deal with the fact other college football recruits were getting TV time as well, his statement is disingenuous at best, delusional at worst.

On Wednesday, he had his moment in front of the camera all by his lonesome, and the picture he painted of himself is no masterpiece. At best, it’s incomplete. Here’s a player with all the talent in the world, but the bad part about that: He knows it.

So did Clarett. And look what happened.

If anything, Buckeyes fans can hope Tressel recognizes this resemblance and is better equipped to handle such a player this time around, if necessary. If not, those same fans will have to ask themselves if getting Pryor was worth being dragged through all that muck and mud — again.