Tue Jun 14 01:56pm EDT
One of the overlooked aspects of Luke Fickell's press conference at Ohio State on Monday was his relationship with former quarterback Terrelle Pryor, which seemed to be nonexistent.
Fickell noted that Pryor called him the week before he decided to forego his senior season at Ohio State and pursue professional opportunities, and Fickell never called him back.
"The situation just didn't work out that we had the chance to sit down and talk," Fickell said.
And at the time of this post, more than 79 percent of Cleveland Plain Dealer readers thought Fickell's decision to ignore Pryor was, "a necessary step to distance the university from the scandal."
The Plain Dealer offered up a poll to its readers Tuesday, asking, "Was interim coach Luke Fickell right to orchestrate Terrell Pryor's departure from OSU?"
Only 713 people had voted at the time of this writing, but many of them sided with Fickell.
Fickell didn't explicitly say he ignored Pryor's phone call, but it's clear that he never made an effort to get back in touch with his starting quarterback. After all, Pryor was the one member of the team who was single-handedly keeping the Buckeyes in the national spotlight. It seemed like every day, Pryor was embroiled in some new allegation or was doing something to cause media to dig into his life. From his loaner cars to his suspended license to his alleged relationship with memorabilia profiteer Dennis Talbott, Pryor was pulling the Buckeyes down and their new coach -- albeit interim -- didn't want to be pulled down with him.
But was Fickell's silence the right way to go?
When Pryor called Fickell, he was still a member of the team and was still deciding whether he wanted to stay with the Buckeyes. Fickell could have taken the call, or even called Pryor back, and talked him through the situation. He could have expressed his stance on where he saw Pryor's status this season after the five-game suspension. He could have said they were probably going in another direction.
But perhaps Pryor was too far gone at that point and Fickell knew it. Various reports had shown Pryor acted selfishly and his selfish acts were going to have a profound affect on the Ohio State program for years to come. Fickell, who was stepping into his dream job, perhaps held a grudge.
Oddly, he didn't hold that same grudge against former coach Jim Tressel, who was complicit in a lot of the wrongdoing by covering it up and lying to the NCAA. Fickell heaped praise on Tressel for shaping who he was as a coach and a husband and a father.
There have been several articles in the past couple weeks about Pryor being made the scapegoat and perhaps this whole situation speaks to that.
I don't disagree that Fickell needed to distance himself from the whole scandal, but as a coach, I still think he needed to be there for his player regardless of the situation.