The Times West Virginian

January 15, 2008

COLUMN: Pryor gets some food for thought

By Bob Hertzel

MORGANTOWN — Perhaps you know about the law of unintended consequences, which is anything but scientific in its application. Nonetheless, it is very much a reality.

For example, on a cold morning, you turn your car on before you are ready to leave so it is warm when you climb behind the wheel. Suppose someone comes along, sees your car running, and steals it.

Having to walk to work is the unintended consequence of trying to warm it up before you left.

Another example of this may just be playing out before your eyes at present on the West Virginia University sports scene. Simply put, Bob Huggins needs some bench help for his basketball team. Jarrett Brown, the backup quarterback on the football team, is an accomplished basketball player with a desire to play the game again and the kind of physical strength Huggins could use.

So Huggins got in contact with WVU’s new head football coach Bill Stewart and asked if Brown would be allowed to play basketball.

“If he can help Bob Huggins and that great West Virginia basketball team, I’m behind it 100 percent,” Stewart said. “I had a very nice conversation with his father (Sunday) and anything he can do to help this great university, I’m very much in favor of it.”

And so Jarrett Brown is now a two-sport athlete with the intended consequence helping WVU be a better basketball team.

Ah, but we’re not talking about intended consequences. We’re talking about unintended consequences, so sit down, because this may be a big one.

What if the move could prove to be better for the WVU football team than for the basketball team?

Do I have your interest now?

Think about this one for a moment. There’s a fellow up north of here at Jeannette High outside Pittsburgh who is the No. 2 football recruit in America.

He’s a quarterback, and his name is Terrelle Pryor.

When Rich Rodriguez was coaching WVU, the Mountaineers were one of the five finalists for his services, joining Ohio State, Tennessee, Penn State and Florida. When Rodriguez left for Michigan, Pryor was so important to him that the coach actually called Pryor before telling his own players, including Patrick White.

Two days later Pryor announced he was putting Michigan on his top 5 list and dropping WVU.

What does all this have to do with the cost of gasoline in Outer Slobobia?

Just this: Pryor has made it known that it is his intention to play not only football but basketball in college, and he has held steadfastly to his demand that wherever he goes he will be allowed to play both sports.

Are we coming through yet?

All of a sudden, as signing day approaches, Jarrett Brown gets the OK to play basketball at WVU, something that he has long wanted to do but couldn’t with Rodriguez here.

“I always wanted to play basketball, and I didn’t want to regret not doing it,’’ said Brown. “I think this will make me happier.”

Now, when WVU calls upon Mr. Pryor, do you suspect they might just see to it that he is very aware the Mountaineers have a quarterback who is playing basketball and that the basketball coach had a history of bringing football players over to his basketball team when he was at Cincinnati?

If nothing else, it is food for thought for Pryor, one final bonus to add to the pitch to bring him to Morgantown, a city he previously did consider making his collegiate home.

The truth is there was nothing about the school or the city that chased him away in the first place. He dropped WVU because he liked Rodriguez’s offense and wasn’t sure what kind of offense the Mountaineers would run under a new coach.

Now we all know Stewart, who coached the quarterbacks at WVU until this past season, will run a spread offense, one that is similar to Rodriguez’s but one that will probably throw more often and throw more deep passes, things any quarterback would love to be a part of.

What’s more, there obviously is a seed of doubt in Pryor’s mind about going to Michigan with Rodriguez, a seed that could be fertilized by a sly WVU recruiter. This is what Pryor said when he announced he was adding Michigan to his list:

“One of the bad things is he’s leaving a place once, so he could leave again,” Pryor was quoted as saying in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

He followed that up with another telling statement.

“I didn’t think he’d leave Pat White and Steve Slaton,” he said to the newspaper.

Obviously, Pryor has some questions about Rodriguez’s loyalty and commitment to his school and his players.

No one knows if this will happen or not, but wouldn’t it be interesting if it turned out that the unintended consequence of Rodriguez leaving WVU was his losing Pryor to the Mountaineers.

And now that I think of it, do you think all of this really is an “unintended consequence” of the decision to let Brown play basketball?

E-mail Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.