Terrelle Pryor gives ‘special shout-out’ to Jim Tressel amidst apologies

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For the first time since he abruptly but not unexpectedly announced that he was leaving Ohio State, Terrelle Pryor spoke publicly during a Tuesday circus “press conference” arranged by his new agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

Based on the immediate reaction from the vast expanses of Twitter, the ex-Buckeyes quarterback would’ve been better off eschewing the circus presser.

Taking no questions from the assembled media afterwards, Pryor apologized on multiple occasions during his statement to both former OSU head coach Jim Tressel and to Buckeye Nation, although he never specifically stated what exactly he was apologizing for.  It doesn’t exactly take a rocket surgeon to figure it out, though; Pryor had been immersed in a cloud of controversy for the past several months, from receiving impermissible benefits that earned him a five-game suspension to start the 2011 season to more recent allegations of nefarious vehicle purchases as well as receiving upwards of $40,000 for his signature on memorabilia and free golf junkets to a local country club.

Here is Pryor’s statement, in its entirety:

“In terms of Ohio State, I’d like to say sorry to the coaching staff, say sorry to my teammates, say sorry to all Buckeye Nation and all Buckeye fans across the country. I never meant to hurt anybody directly or indirectly with my conduct off the field, and I am truly sorry.

“In terms of coach Jim Tressel, a special shout-out — I’m sorry for what all went down. I apologize with all my heart. I love you just like a father. You taught me a lot, and I apologize for putting you in a situation and taking you out of a job at a place where you love to be.  I regret the fact you’re not there any more, and I regret the fact I’m not there any more.

“In terms of Ohio State, I have nine more credits left  at The Ohio State University, and I’d like to come back and graduate some time, finish my degree, and graduate as a Buckeye.

“In terms of my future, I am entering the supplemental draft, and I’m working hard every single day on the field and off the field to be a better quarterback. And also one of my goals is to be the best person I can be off the field, to be the best role model I can be off the field.

“Thank you all for coming again, and God bless you.”

Pryor has taken his fair share of beatings in the press — some of it deserved, a lot of it that should’ve been aimed at the coach he lavished praise upon — so it would be easy to pile-on the 21-year-old player for what he’s wrought and what his actions have the potential to do to the OSU football program.  Especially in light of the carnival barker Pryor’s chosen to represent him in the next step of his football career.

Immediately after Pryor’s prepared statement, Rosenhaus took to the microphone and stated that he received a ringing endorsement of Pryor from the deposed Sweatervest.

“I spoke to Jim Tressel,” Rosenhaus said. “I was very moved by Jim Tressel. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a coach talk more fondly about a player than Terrelle. I was very touched by how he described his character, work ethic, his drive and his makeup.”

Akin to what it must have been like to witness, live and in person, a salesman attempting to sell the medicinal value of his snake oil to anyone within range of his voice, Rosenhaus went on to extol the virtues of his new client as a first-round pick in the NFL’s supplemental draft, if there is indeed one this year due to the CBA uncertainty.

“For anyone who questions where he is going to be drafted, I expect him to be a first-round pick in the supplemental draft,” Rosenhaus said. “This league needs quarterbacks. Are you kidding me? Middle round for this guy?”

“You talk about Cam Newton being the first pick of the draft and he deserves it? Let me tell you what, I’ll make all the comparisons all daylong.”

Yeah, about that whole first-round thing?  Sorry, not buying what’s being peddled.  If he’s taken before the fourth round I’d be stunned beyond belief, and it literally has nothing to do with his the off-field allegations or character questions.  Rather, on the field, he’s simply not an NFL quarterback right now, and might never be.

Our guess is that a whole helluva lot of NFL teams will feel the exact same way after plowing through his game films.  Then again, it only takes one team (coughcoughOaklandRaiderscoughcough) to get suckered in, so we shall see…

UPDATED 8:13 p.m. ET: Here’s video of Pryor’s press conference earlier today.

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UAB to hire ex-NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer as head coach

Matthew Diggs/USA TODAY NETWORK
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UAB has hired former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer as its next head coach on the eve of his high school team’s state championship game, the university’s athletic director announced.

The 50-year-old Dilfer won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 during a 14-year NFL career. He’s making a big leap to the college ranks after leading Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, to three state title games in four seasons as head coach.

That includes one scheduled for Thursday morning against Christ Presbyterian Academy, meaning Dilfer would have to hustle back to Chattanooga after his introductory news conference. He takes his first college job with lofty ambitions for a program set to leave Conference USA for the American Athletic Conference starting next season.

“Having the opportunity to lead such a quality program like UAB is one that I am beyond excited about,” Dilfer said in the school’s news release. “The investments the university has made for UAB football aligns with my vision of taking this program to new heights as we join the American Athletic Conference and compete annually for the highest prize of playing in the College Football Playoff.”

A former first-round draft pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1994, Dilfer retired in 2008 and went into broadcasting, working for ESPN as an NFL analyst until 2017.

At the same time, Dilfer became involved in the Elite 11 quarterback camp for the top high schools prospects in the country.

Lipscomb Academy, a private Christian school, is 12-0 this season and 25-1 the past two years. Dilfer has led Lipscomb to a 43-10 record overall.

“Trent is a proven winner on and off the field at all levels and will be a tremendous leader for our program,” UAB athletic director Mark Ingram said. “He is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback who played the game at its highest level for many years, and he has coached some of the top quarterbacks who are currently NFL franchise players.

“Trent’s goals and vision for our program is to lead UAB to the College Football Playoff and we have no doubt that he is the right coach to lead our transition in the American Athletic Conference.”

Early in the 2021 season, Dilfer issued a public apology after a video on social media showed him pushing and shouting at one of his players. The player was the son of a former NFL teammate of Dilfer’s, kicker Phil Dawson.

Dilfer replaces Bill Clark, who stepped down in August, citing back issues.

Offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent was named interim coach and led the Blazers to a 6-6 record this season. UAB is set to play Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 16 in the Bahamas Bowl.

No terms were announced pending formal approval of Dilfer’s contract from the Board of Trustees.

UNC’s Drake Maye rides star-making season into ACC title game

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Drake Maye has put up big numbers all season for No. 24 North Carolina. Now he has a chance to lead the Tar Heels to something more: an Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

The second-year passer has played so well that he stirred national buzz as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate. Those hopes dwindled after two straight losses for some late-season adversity, but he can still lead the program to its first ACC title in more than four decades against No. 10 Clemson in Charlotte.

“It’s just literally a dream of going out in an NFL stadium, playing against a team the caliber of Clemson – it gets you anxious,” Maye said. “At the end of the day, it’s why you play the sport of football.”

North Carolina (9-3, 6-2 ACC) opened the season with uncertainty about how much they’d get at quarterback after the departure of star quarterback Sam Howell to the NFL. But Maye beat out Jacolby Criswell in a preseason position battle, then looked nothing like a youngster in his first season as a starter.

He leads the Bowl Subdivision ranks in total offense (373.0 yards per game) and is tied for fourth in FBS with 35 touchdown passes, just two behind national leaders C.J. Stroud of Ohio State and Clayton Tune of Houston.

Maye has also thrown just five interceptions on 440 attempts – a rate of 1.1% in an aggressive offense that pushes the ball downfield – and leads his team in rushing yards.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney knows plenty about Maye. The Tigers recruited him out of Huntersville, a town about 20 minutes north of Charlotte. Swinney said he expected Maye would end up with the Tar Heels as an instate product.

Maye did so after reversing a commitment to Nick Saban at Alabama.

“He is a very creative player, and a very confident and poised player,” Swinney said.

Maye led UNC to its first-ever 6-0 road record this season – all by seven or fewer points – and the last Coastal Division title in the league’s final year in the two-division format with a win at Wake Forest. But the Tar Heels have followed with losses to Georgia Tech on Nov. 19 and rival North Carolina State.

Those losses were the only games this season Maye hasn’t thrown at least two scoring passes.

Offensive coordinator Phil Longo pointed to N.C. State’s veteran defense giving alternating looks to Maye. Sometimes it was applying more rush pressure to force Maye to get the ball out of his hands. Other times, it was dropping eight players into coverage to force Maye to be patient without as many deep looks.

“Our successful drives, I thought we did a great job of being patient,” Longo said. “And on the drives where we didn’t, I thought we weren’t patient. Maybe we forced a ball or we didn’t adjust our route the way we need to or hit the run where we needed to.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we get some of that from Clemson,” Longo continued. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that more in the future because it’s a way to maybe minimize explosive plays.”

UNC hasn’t won an ACC title since 1980, back when eventual NFL star Lawrence Taylor was the Tar Heels’ All-American linebacker. That was three years before Maye’s father Mark began his career as UNC’s quarterback and eight years before Mack Brown‘s first coaching tenure began in Chapel Hill.

If Maye can lead the Tar Heels past the Tigers, he’ll have a championship run of his own to brag about with his brothers.

One older brother, Cole, was part of Florida’s run to the NCAA baseball title in June 2017. That came roughly three months after another brother, Luke, hit the last-second jumper to send UNC to the Final Four and ultimately win the NCAA men’s basketball title on the way to becoming an unexpected star.

“Team success at the end of the day is what counts in the family, that we brag about,” Maye said. “So I think an ACC championship, that’s a pretty big deal.”