Wisch: Terrelle Pryor And Eric Gordon, Brothers in Harm

By Dave Wischnowsky–

Four years ago, when Terrelle Pryor – then the most celebrated prep quarterback in the country – signed with Ohio State, he was hailed by the sweater-vested faithful as a conquering hero whose arrival in Columbus guaranteed a national championship.

Or three.

But as the Buckeyes now limp toward their gimpy QB’s final collegiate go-around, fans are facing the harsh reality that Pryor’s career has instead generated more bad ink (and tattoos) than it has good press.

And we’re still waiting for that first national title.

(Don’t hold your breath, Brutus.)

On Tuesday evening, Pryor was the gag gift that kept on giving as Ohio State announced that it has now (wrist) slapped head football coach Jim Tressel with a two-game suspension and $250,000 fine for withholding information for nine months about players – including, of course, his star QB – who had committed NCAA violations by trading memorabilia and autographs for tattoos at a local ink parlor.

To its credit, the university self-reported Tressel’s violation to the NCAA and self-imposed the punishments, but OSU could (and sure as heck should) still receive more severe penalties after the NCAA reviews the case.

You know, kind of like the additional penalties that Indiana University ultimately received from the NCAA after it self-imposed sanctions and fired head basketball coach Kelvin Sampson in the wake of the scandal-ridden Eric Gordon era. The reason I bring up Gordon’s name today is because, on Tuesday, when this latest chapter in OSU’s Jerseys-For-Tats scandal was unfolding in Columbus, a friend of mine shot me a text message in which he astutely compared IU’s Gordon saga to the Buckeyes’ current Pryor-related troubles.

“The Terrelle Pryor era reminds me of the Eric Gordon era,” my buddy Danny opined. “A lot of excitement, no major accomplishments and it will ultimately hurt the team in the long run.”

He’s right.

In 2007 – after Sampson convinced Gordon to break his promise to attend the University of Illinois (an issue that I wrote at length about last week) – the 6-foot-4 superstar shooting guard rolled into Bloomington on a tidal wave of hype.

IU students were donning “Got Gordon?” T-shirts. Hoops pundits were trumpeting the powerful inside-out punch of Gordon and Indiana big man D.J. White. And Hoosier Nation was predicting a Big Ten title – and maybe even a national one?

Well, none of it happened.

Gordon, White & Co. did rack up an impressive 25-8 record in 2007-08, but they didn’t win the Big Ten (third place behind Wisconsin and Purdue), didn’t win a Big Ten Tournament game (Minnesota upset them 59-58 in the quarterfinals) and didn’t win an NCAA Tournament game (Arkansas routed the Hoosiers 86-72 in the first round).

Yes, IU got Gordon, all right. And then essentially got nothing for it.

Nothing but trouble, that is.

On Feb. 22, 2008 – before the season had ended – Sampson was forced out as head coach. The school then self-imposed sanctions and the NCAA opted to tack on three additional years of probation. The following season, the Hoosiers saw their record plummet to 6-25 under new coach Tom Crean and the program hasn’t sniffed a measure of hoops respectability since.
Ohio State, meanwhile, has experienced a great deal more success with Pryor than IU did with Gordon. The quarterback has led the Buckeyes to three Big Ten championships as well as victories in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl.

That’s nothing to sneeze at for most schools, but considering the expectations in Columbus and for Pryor – i.e., national championships – those achievements aren’t up to snuff.

Now, sure, Pryor still has a season (or part of one) left to lead the Buckeyes to his supposedly promised glory. But he’s also coming off foot surgery, isn’t eligible to play the first five games of 2011 and now, thanks in part to his ink-stained actions, his coach also won’t be around for two of them (at least).

When it comes to chaos, right now, the Buckeyes rank behind only the Miami Heat and Charlie Sheen. And they’re gaining on them.

I’ve been saying for months that Ohio State – the winners of six consecutive Big Ten titles – is overdue for a letdown in 2011. After this week’s revelations, it certainly looks like that’s coming. But the Buckeyes, along with Indiana, are also a reminder that when it comes to college sports – and signing high school superstars – fans had better be careful about what they wish for.

Because you just might get it.

You can dot the “i” with that warning.

The IU, too.

Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.

davewisch Wisch: Terrelle Pryor And Eric Gordon, Brothers in Harm

Dave Wischnowsky

If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Only a self-deluded narcissist thinks that he can coach a kid with character issues into making a turn-around that is real (not faked for the media/fans).

    But the coaching profession is filled with self-deluded narcissists.

    Very, very clever analysis Dave…..no one else in the media would have connected those dots!

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Just one example among many:
    I have to wonder if the Auburn “Cam Newton Year” will stand-up to NCAA scrutiny over the next several years???

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      The 2010 college football season stunk to high heaven thanks to the NCAA’s decisions regarding the deferred suspensions of the Ohio State players and the decision to blame only Cam Newton’s dad (and not Cam himself) in regards to his situation. Enough really is enough, and the NCAA needs to step up and show some force — and legitimacy — with the latest OSU revelations. The Buckeyes and Tressel should be hit hard.

      However, I’ll believe it when I see it. We shall find out at some point, I suppose …

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    At a MINIMUM I think that Tressel ought to have been suspended for the same 5 games as the kids……what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander as we Indiana hicks say.

    As it stands now, the two games that sweater-vest will miss are the non-conference tune-ups against The Lighthouse for the Blind Tech and Vassar.

  • Dave Wischnowsky

    I would completely agree. I would also be in favor of having OSU forfeit all of the wins from last season, which would seem appropriate since Tressel was using players who he knew were almost certainly ineligible.

  • Dean

    I heard the NCAA was so mad at Ohio State they put Illinois on probation for three years and Minnesota for four.

    In all seriousness, the NCAA had better get control of the rampant cheating and inconsistency in punishment across its member conferences and institutions. If they don’t, they are certainly inviting Congress to get involved, which is the last thing they want.

    When you look at how punishment of players (who are predominantly minority) has historically been much harsher than the punishment of coaches, it’s not much of a leap to conclude the NCAA is applying stronger penalties against its players.

    And with all the partisan challenges facing Congress right now, I would imagine they would love to take on a bi-partisan finger-wagging session with a group (NCAA admin) that virtually everyone agrees is a mess.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      You are spot-on Dean.
      And some gasbags in Congress will try to fix the BCS situation while they are at it (mindless that we have a two-front war, owe China approximately the net worth of California etc. etc.).

  • Larry Butt

    Why are you such a hater, Wischnowsky. You crack me up, you are so wise. Whenever you have accomplished the things Tressell has and are placed in his shoes then maybe you have the right to sit and judge but you haven’t. You are such a pious person.

    If I were placed in his situation and had to make the same decision, right or wrong, If I am told this is a Federal Investigation and I was to not say anything to anyone, I would choose to not break federal law vs NCAA. Remember, there were no charges here and it was an investigation when he was told that maybe there were some players who sold there memorabilia. He then was told not to say anything pending the investigation. I will say he was not completely honest in December but I am not sure what information he was going by. He deserves to be punished, but the media is making this out to be so much more than it really is. If he is punished further it is because of the media taking certain angles to make him look bad. I would like to see a balanced story on this, not just your slanted version. THere are a lot of gaps to fill in here that are not mentioned.

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      So only football coaches with national championships are allowed to judge football coaches with national championships? Well, that seems a little biased. Ha. :)

      And seeing as I’m not in the coaching biz, I don’t imagine I’ll ever accomplish what Tressel has. Not that I’d be able to anyway. The guy’s a great coach, without a doubt, but he also needs to be an honest one. Especially when his program has already been caught breaking the rules. That’s his job, to fess up. It says so right there in his contract.

      A die-hard Ohio State fan friend of mine said to me yesterday that he isn’t that troubled with what Tressel did last spring when he first caught wind of his players trading memorabilia and autographs for tats (he feels as if he was protecting him players at the time), but he is troubled with what Tressel withheld in December. And should all OSU fans (or anyone), I would think.

      As you said yourself, Tressel was not completely honest in December. I don’t really think much more needs to be said than that. Can’t mislead the NCAA when you’re coaching in the NCAA. Tressel did and his program should pay.

  • http://www.thatvoodoo.com/?p=17929 Aquarius seeking tattoos. | New tattoo! | Wisch: Terrelle Pryor And Eric Gordon, Brothers in Harm

    […] as a conquering hero whose arrival in Columbus guaranteed a national championship. Read more on CBS Chicago This entry was posted in Tattoos and tagged Aquarius, Brothers, Eric, Gordon, harm, Pryor, […]

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