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In the long and storied history of college football feuds, this one has got to be a first: That of a national television commentator and a freshman quarterback.
On the eve of Terrelle Pryor's first road start Saturday night at Wisconsin, it's become increasingly apparent that Pryor holds some sort of obsession with ESPN personality Mark May -- and that the animosity may be mutual.
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Pryor was none too pleased with some skeptical comments May made about the freshman's early performances.
"People like Mark May, he said 'let's see how he plays on the big stage,' " said Pryor (who the paper described as being "clearly unhappy with any suggestion of doubt about his big-stage ability.") "And we're going to see next week."
On the surface, May's commentary is perfectly legitimate, and Pryor's response is fairly innocuous. However, this was not the first such exchange between the two.
Back in February, May was extremely critical of the quarterback's decision to delay his college commitment beyond Signing Day, questioning the player's motives and maturity. While it was certainly an unusual situation (Pryor ended up signing with Ohio State more than a month later), I remember watching May's rant and finding it unusually harsh on a high school kid who seemed genuinely conflicted. (If you recall, Pryor wanted to sign with the Buckeyes but was being pushed by his father to reconsider Penn State.)
Pryor himself apparently agreed, saying at the time: "Mark May from ESPN is criticizing me on national television and he doesn't even know me. That kind of stuff really bothers me, when people who know nothing about me are talking about me like they know anything."
So this much we know: May, for reasons unknown, has been skeptical of Pryor since at least February, and Pryor, for reasons unknown, is taking it very personally.
My advice to Terrelle: Pay no mind to that blowhard's opinions.
Television commentators are paid to offer their opinions. We know that. We also know that the more loud and controversial they are in those opinions, the more entertaining the television. Unfortunately, because of that, TV talking heads aren't held to the same standards of objectivity as print journalists. Many of them don't even bother to hide their allegiances, and May has long been one of the worst offenders.
We've all watched him spend the past four years railing on Charlie Weis, even when the Irish were doing well. I'm sure much of it was for theater's sake, but his grudge was still nauseatingly transparent. Meanwhile, May is an unabashed backer of his former team, the Pitt Panthers. I've always contended that Larry Fitzgerald, as great a player as he was, never would have become a Heisman runner-up without May beating the drum for his cause throughout the 2003 season. His effusive praise of Dave Wannstedt can be found right in the front of the school's media guide.
With all that in mind, all you have to do to figure out the May-Pryor paradigm is connect the dots.
Pryor is from Jeanette, Pa., less than an hour's drive from Pittsburgh. Yet he pretty much blew off Wannstedt and the Panthers as a recruit. Skepticism -- or source of a mini-vendetta?