If Terrelle Pryor Had Come to Michigan

Submitted by oakapple on May 31st, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Most Michigan fans are thanking their lucky stars that Terrelle Pryor didn’t come to Michigan. Pryor’s stated reason for picking OSU was that he thought Tressel would do a better job of getting him ready for the NFL. For all I know, Columbus dealerships might have been feeding him with free cars even then, but for now let’s assume he chose OSU on the merits.

What if he had chosen Michigan?

Let’s stipulate that Pryor was going to walk into any institution with very serious maturity issues. The obvious question is whether the Right Kind of Coach could have gotten his head in gear, or if he’s the kind of kid who was going to run off the rails no matter what you did.

I suspect that in 2008, he would have easily beaten Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan, and started all or most of the season. Michigan lost a lot of winnable games that year. With Pryor’s physical gifts and a skill set better suited to the spread offense, Michigan’s record would almost certainly have been better, perhaps even as good as a bowl-qualifying 6-6, instead of a shattering 3-9.

It is very doubtful that Michigan would have brought in both Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson in the class of 2009, if they’d had Pryor. You don’t ordinarily get two four-star QBs the year after bringing in a five-star. If Michigan were going to get just one of the two, it would more likely have been Robinson, because Rodriguez offered him at QB, and no other school of Michigan’s caliber did. Forcier, seeing the prospect of sitting behind Pryor for three years, would have said “No, thanks.”

So going into 2009, Michigan’s QB roster would have been Pryor, Robinson, Sheridan, with Pryor as the returning sophomore starter. It’s at this point that Pryor’s issues would have begun to surface, as they did for another troubled sophomore QB, Tate Forcier. After a very good freshman year, Pryor would have started to act like he owned the place. The difference, I think, is that Rodriguez would not have tolerated that stuff.

The question is what would have happened then: would he have unraveled, as Forcier did? Or would he have bent to discipline, once it became clear that the Team was bigger than any one guy? (Incidentally, I am not suggesting that Forcier and Pryor have the identical issues; only that they are both head cases, for different reasons.)



May 31st, 2011 at 5:04 PM ^

Interesting hypothetical, but I have it on pretty good authority that Terrell Pryor, in any other system then Ohio State's, would've dominated.


May 31st, 2011 at 5:04 PM ^

gonna have to disagree with your premise that rodriguez would have handled pryor's shit better than tressel did. i just don't see any evidence to suggest that's the case. i don't think anything short of a drill instructor could have kept pryor in line.


May 31st, 2011 at 10:41 PM ^

to the compliance dept as Tressel should have.  Jeez, RR wouldn't put DRob back in the game when his job was on the line vs Illinois.

TP gets kicked off the team, probably a lot sooner than after his junior year.

If Tressel had the option of telling the truth to the NCAA* and had done so, this would just have been another "Free Shoes University"-level incident.  Lots of guffaws but no smoking gun.

*Lord knows what TP has on Tressel.  Where there's smoke, there's fire, and I bet there was no way that Tressel could come clean on just the tatgate 5.


May 31st, 2011 at 5:06 PM ^

had no influence in Ann Arbor since he did not own a glass business there like he did in Columbus. He was only going to OSU given the "benefits" we know he received during the last three years.

This case will be closed by the NCAA in August...if not sooner.

Spontaneous Co…

May 31st, 2011 at 5:11 PM ^

"After a very good freshman year, Pryor would have started to act like he owned the place. The difference, I think, is that Rodriguez would not have tolerated that stuff."

This is a wild assumption.  Both in terms of Pryor acting in a way that jeopardized his role as starter and that Rodriguez would not have tolerated it.  This is no slight on Rodriguez's ability to discipline but I suspect Pryor, in the presence of his teammates and coaches, behaved appropriately.  We've not heard anything to the contrary.

So I suspect he'd have had similar indiscretions here.  The opportunity to lie, cheat and steal exists everywhere.  I hope the primary difference would be that Coach Rod and our staff would not have covered up for him and would not have allowed this type of behavior to become systemic.

EDIT - by "behaved appropriately" I mean in the context of football practice, team meetings, etc.  Clearly his extra curricular activities are not appropriate. 


May 31st, 2011 at 10:49 PM ^

but to cover it up?

I'm guessing Tressel had so much to cover that it was a dominos situation.  Knock one down and watch the rest of the line fall in progression.

RichRod would never have been in a situation where circumstances were calling the shots in regards to discipline.  (Maybe in regards to defensive coordinators, but not to discipline.)


May 31st, 2011 at 5:09 PM ^

Seems to me RR was pretty tough (appropriately) on Tate.  That said, I am not sure anyone could have stopped the catastrophic freight train that is TP.  By the way, anyone notice he ran the stop sign in his Z on the way out of the team meeting?


May 31st, 2011 at 5:12 PM ^

With Pryor’s physical gifts and a skill set better suited to the spread offense

Why do so many people assume this? The RR offense requires the QB to make multiple reads on most plays. Why do people assume that Pryor, who seems dumber than a box of rocks, would have thrived in that system?

I think it's more likely that OSU's staff, which may have been a bunch of scumbags but was nevertheless good at coaching football, gave him as complex an offensive package as he could handle.


May 31st, 2011 at 5:14 PM ^

Eh, RR did his best to help Forcier's personilty and attitude issues, but was unsuccessful.  I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Pryor's character issues are far more significant. 


May 31st, 2011 at 5:16 PM ^

I'd never thought I'd say this, but man I'm really glad we sucked (or however you want to word it) enough the last few years for him to not want to play here. 


May 31st, 2011 at 5:22 PM ^

that Pryor was NEVER considering Michigan.  He was signed sealed and delivered to OSU, and his visiting Michigan was part of a carefully constructed rouse to make Michigan think he was interested.


Recruiting is a dirty game, and Tressel ran with the best of them.


May 31st, 2011 at 10:44 PM ^

Pryor chose the school who caved to his demands first. Rich Rod and this punk really deserved each other because they are both dumb as rocks. To RR's credit he wouldn't have gotten away with half the crap he's pulled had he picked Michigan, especially after the whole Practice-gate stuff and the NCAA sniffing around.


May 31st, 2011 at 5:30 PM ^

He was never coming here but since we're playing the 'what if" game, with Pryor, we beat Utah, Toledo, Illinois and Northwestern. 

The bowl streak coming to an end just about killed me in 2008.  In the long run, Pryor being a jackass and embarrassing our program would have felt worse.



May 31st, 2011 at 5:31 PM ^

In my scenario both Pryor and Tate come to Michigan to forge an alliance that makes for the greatest wall of shame website ever. They also put their heads together to write a Pulitzer Prize winning research paper on research.


May 31st, 2011 at 5:55 PM ^

Good post until "So going into 2009..."

No way you can say how Pryor or Robinson would have reacted in Pryor's sophomore season. No telling how Rodriguez would have handled a guy with the ego and attitude of Pryor.

Let's just be thankful that he didn't come and tarnish the legacy of the maize and blue.


May 31st, 2011 at 5:58 PM ^

I have a feeling that Pryor wouldn't have come here because OSU's incentive package was just too good. Then again, I've been watching a lot of Friday Night Lights lately...


May 31st, 2011 at 6:03 PM ^

they keep saying Tressel "won the National Championship, compiled a 100-something record, and went 9-1 against Michigan" which we all know will be cut to 8-1 soon. I'm wondering if it won't be cut more. Will Pryor be ineligible for longer with his car saga? If so then will all the other former players named be ruled ineligible for games retroactively like Reggie Bush was? Will they reopen the Maurice Clarett  investigation now? With a string of more than 8 solid years of essentially documented  rule-breaking will they extend the statute of limitations? Will they even keep the National Championship if they do? 


May 31st, 2011 at 6:21 PM ^

but the question is the next thing that hits me now that I'm used to Tressel getting canned. The NCAA retroactively took away a year and (I believe) 2 Bowl Games from u$c for essentially a single offense, here they have maybe a hundred documented offenses in a row. I wonder how similar the punishments will be. 


May 31st, 2011 at 6:04 PM ^

What the heck, I'll bite on the hypothetical.

2008:  Pryor starts and there is much rejoicing.  RR is able to implement more of the spread from the get go (and get more success than Threet/Sheridan), and we win the Utah game.  The ND game monsoon would've disrupted ANY quarterback, so that would've roughly been the same.  Toledo never happens.  We might eke out Northwestern (given the weather, who knows what would've happened), but I don't see more than six or seven wins.  We'll probably get a couple of reports of Pryor's character, and seeing a 6-6 or 7-5 season, probably have a few MGoMeltdowns.

2009:  Denard arrives (no Tate), but he can't unseat Pryor.  However:  We lose the ND game.  I chalk that win up to Tate's moxie.  We defeat Illinois and Purdue easily, possibly eeking out the win at Iowa.  I would expect an 8-4 season with a bowl win.  Brian thinks about the defense every night and cries himself to sleep--seeing it as the only obstacle to a perfect season.

2010:  More character issues start to emerge.  Pryor likely does something stupid in the offseason and gets suspended to start against UConn (wings removed).  Denard's improvement in the Spring game eases only a few of the MGoFaithful, but he shocks the world and M wins easily.  Seeing Denard's epic numbers, RR sticks with Denard and Pryor goes batshit and badmouths RR and the team.  RR suspends him for the season.  The result:  With Denard's multiple "dings", Tate never comes in.  We lose Illinois because of it.  The team finishes 6-6 with a bowl loss.  Pryor doesn't return for 2011.  People speculate whether it was RR or Pryor that was at fault, the team fails to gel very well, and we're sitting in the fetal position awaiting RR's 4th year.

RR's rival record: 

2-1 against MSU (winning the 2008 and 2009 games),

1-2 against ND (winning the 2010 game)

1-2 against OSU (winning the 2009 game)

This gives RR his fourth year.

tl;dr:  Things start better, Pryor does stupid shit, RR gets on hotseat but is granted fourth year, we still end up going "eeeeeee Denard"


May 31st, 2011 at 6:06 PM ^

If Pryor had come here he would most likely would have been a star in the RR spread. But aside from that, he probably wouldn't have become the trash he became after falling in with that buckeye crowd.