Don’t Hate The Playa…

By LeCharles Bentley

The “resignation” of Jim Tressel as Ohio State’s football coach has led to a surprising level of vitriol rising against Terrelle Pryor.

Many are cursing the day he signed his letter of intent to attend Ohio State.

Venting at Pryor leads to a simple question: Why?

I’m not by any stretch of the imagination defending Pryor or his misjudgments but there is a stench in the air that many are conveniently ignoring.

We all remember March 19th, 2008 when Pryor announced to the world he would be attending The Ohio State University.  This was a glorious day not only for Jim Tressel and OSU fans but for the entire Big Ten Conference.

Pryor was the most prized recruit in the country; he possessed unimaginable potential.  Athletes like Pryor don’t play football in the Big Ten; they choose schools like Florida or Auburn. Pryor chose to play in a conference that is notoriously viewed as antiquated and boring. Pryor presented something that was “special” to the Big Ten in his ability to bring excitement to a conference with its own young, burgeoning television network.

The Big Ten has been on a mission to change its perception from the non-television friendly “Woody Hayes: four yards and a cloud of dust” format to that of the new age, Brian Kelleyesque game of speed and spread offenses.

The “Leaders and Legends” successfully recruited Nebraska to join its widening footprint.  Do we all believe the rich tradition held by Nebraska, tradition that molds right into what the Big Ten sells, was the sole reason to lure the Cornhuskers?  Maybe it’s the unique style of offense that has produced three Heisman Trophy winners, including playmaking quarterback Eric Crouch and Johnny Unitas Award winner Tommie Frazier.

Offensively, Nebraska football is ready made for television just like Terrelle Pryor, Denard Robinson, Braxton Miller and Nathan Scheelhaase.  Of the quarterbacks mentioned after Pryor, it’s a safe assumption those guys would not have chosen the Big Ten if Pryor had not chosen the Big Ten — except perhaps Robinson.  But that goes back to the point: Robinson followed Rich Rodriguez to Michigan in hopes of changing the landscape of the Big Ten.

Often in society, special people are granted special privileges.  Special in the NCAA sense means the ability to be monetized, and if money can be made off of you then your bounds are limitless.  Jim Tressel made a mistake and that was allowing the pressure of handling a player like Terrelle Pryor to sway his commitment to developing young men through the game of football.

This pressure wasn’t completely self-imposed. It was brought, wittingly or unwittingly, by the system in which he operated.  My bet, the pressure had been vocalized. Simply take a look at how the Sugar Bowl was handled.  The Tressel OSU players knew would not have allowed those young men to play; he would have suspended them immediately. Except it’s difficult to say no when the Big Ten Commissioner is lobbying on the athletes’ behalf.

There is enough blame to go around evenly in this affair.  Jim Tressel made a mistake. Pryor made a mistake.  But neither is at fault for the flaws in the system.

Pryor is guilty of being a kid and acting childish at inappropriate times, but most kids do just that.  These facts don’t change because we magically choose to ignore the realities.

The Big Ten is as much to blame for this debacle, and it all came in the name of progress.  We can look through the annals of time to see that progress is often ugly and offers many sacrifices.  The Big Ten is striving for a new look and marketability. Too many people sold their souls to get a bite at the “TP” apple and now the roosters are home.

As the younger generation so eloquently explains, “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game.”



  1. agree

  2. Are you kidding me lecharles? this guy was a complete bust and because of his roots he is a thug idiot who has destroyed this football program. but because hes black youre gonna try to give him the benefit of the doubt. you are blaming the police for allowing a crime when you should be blaming the criminal more.

  3. Just my opinion but it seems that tOSU fans are spewing venom at Pryor, not exclusively b/c of what went down, but how the young man carries himself and his sense of entitlement. These same fans watched for the last decade LBJ have everything handed to him and watch the kid’s ego grow until last July. They now see Pryor carrying himself the same way, from a different car every couple months to his tweets, he’s come off in an LBJ sort of way. The same way if James had conducted his “Decision” in a far different manner, he wouldn’t have been as villified as he is now. Pryor seems to show no remorse for what he did and he doesn’t seem to care whether Tressel resigned or not. It’s all about TPeezy. That’s what sticks in the craw of tOSU fan.

  4. to add, the B10 FO and the NCAA are as much to blame in this as well. Too much pressure to get the almighty dollar at the expense of these kids, who don’t see any of it. By lobbying for the Tat5 to play in the Sugar Bowl sent a message to players like Pryor that they are bigger than their teammates and they’re needed to market their university in a high profile game. Sad state of affairs when the common fan can name players suspended by their teams rather than name the student athlete who’s on track to receive their degree with a 3.5 GPA or higher.

  5. It’s THREE yards and a Cloud of Dust.. not FOUR. How do you NOT know that?

  6. I agree with Scott on his comment about Pryor’s sense of entitlement. Whether that stems from how the media and fans treat highly-touted athletes or not isn’t my main problem.

    My issue with Pryor is how his actions (and those of the others who made these bad, selfish decisions) have affected their teammates, the program, and the university. The items that were sold were gifts, and maybe in their eyes insignificant knick-knacks commemorating accomplishments that in the long run were never special or meaningful to them. However, they were to some of their teammates.

    When you put yourself in front of your team, you lose my respect and I have no sympathy for the situation that he’s now brought upon himself. There needs to be a decision made: you either are a part of a team or you’re out for number one. It can’t be both ways. And if you’re not mature or intelligent enough to make that decision, don’t blame “the game” when people turn on you.

  7. Good take LeCharles. Best term I’ve heard to describe the pressure at OSU to win and earn $ was said by Bruce Hooley on Rizzo yesterday – Bloodlust. After the 2002 title the lust to win more and more, and expand the program’s marketability ($) grew exponentially. Couple Pryor’s talents with his not-so-mature actions at times and tOSU & Tressel experienced tremendous pressure. Sometimes pressure makes a beautiful diamond. Most times it cracks and crumbles what lives underneath it.

  8. TP is your typical “I got my hand out if you want ME!!!” newer era of urban athlete that is all about $$$$$ and attention. LeCharles can tell us all about that… As with anything, it takes two to play. In this case, a university looking to be a great team for bigger ratings, rankings and all that comes with that…for the player, just $$$ and “respect with his crew, etc.”.

    Do you think players like Dustin Fox would EVER sell their gold pants? Of course not! TP…never gave it a second thought. Good riddence to him – go live your dream…getin’ YOUR $$$ and blowing it! Then when the next work stoppage comes (IF he gets to the NFL), we will be hearing how he is broke and LeCharles and Deron Cherry will spin to defend him and his lifestyle. Talk about a freakin’ JOKE!

    Any response LeCharles? Did NOT think so…

  9. […] And Now For Something Completely Different… By Andy Nill …my quick take on the Jim Tressel/OSU saga. [But first, please check out fellow gadfly LeCharles Bentley's insightful take here] […]

  10. The problem with Pryor is that he is getting free stuff.. People dont like when people other than themselves are getting free stuff.. Couple that with the fact that he makes stupid decisions that most young folks make (albeit not in the pubic eye), he will be the one that is most to blame for Tressels “resignation” Great blog by Lecharles.

  11. Not surprised by the wealth of “predict a failed future” by some wanting the worst for Pryor. Bottomline, TP is a kid…period. And the rash of adult insults tied to hopes of failure has an extreme undercurrent that needs no further explanation. In a sport where Bowl officials spend carelessly on strippers and college coaches look the other way, to reserve anger for the youngest on this ladder of mess ups shows some folks inability to see that this is a top on down problem

    • No, TP lacks maturity and respect for others… the “kid” excuse was null and void when he was man enough to circumvent the system for his own benefit and when he put himself before his teammates.

  12. Joe you are the ignorance that represents the times. Save the world the trouble and quit wasting good oxygen that could be used by rational human beings. Much love Lecharles!

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