Just more than 38 months ago, a large segment of Nittany Nation was in a state of panic.

One of the most storied football recruits in Pennsylvania high school history had just signed his National Letter of Intent with Penn State's most-hated Big Ten rival.

After a courtship that seemed to last forever, Jeannette quarterback Terrelle Pryor finally decided to bolt the Keystone State for Ohio State.

For some PSU fans, the fact that the nation's No. 1 recruit escaped Happy Valley was a disaster of epic proportions.

It seemed to be just another example of how the Buckeyes, and superstar coach Jim Tressel, had breezed by the Nittany Lions, and aging coach Joe Paterno, in the Big Ten pecking order.

I wonder how those same Blue-and-White fanatics feel today?

Tressel has resigned under pressure in the wake of an embarrassing NCAA investigation.

Pryor, meanwhile, has been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for accepting improper benefits from a tattoo-shop owner. Now the NCAA is reportedly in the middle of an even more significant inquiry of Pryor and whether he received cars and other extra benefits.

It's doubtful that Pryor will ever play for the Buckeyes again. So what will his legacy be?

Few will remember that the Buckeyes won or shared three Big Ten titles during his three years in Columbus. Few will remember that OSU compiled an impressive 33-6 overall record. Few will remember that he guided Ohio State to three Bowl Championship Series games, including two wins.


Instead, they'll remember that he won no national championships, never turned into a true superstar and was largely responsible for helping bring down one of the great football programs in the nation.

During that same span, Penn State went 29-10, shared one Big Ten title and appeared in one BCS game -- an ugly loss to Southern Cal. There's no denying that Penn State would likely have won a few more games during that period if the immensely talented Pryor had chosen the Nittany Lions, especially during last year's 7-6 season, when the QB position was a major problem.

Still, it's highly doubtful that Pryor could've led the Lions to a national title, or even a national title game appearance. After all, he couldn't do it at Ohio State with a stronger supporting cast.

And would those few extra wins been worth the shame and humiliation that are gripping Columbus right now?

Nearly every member of Nittany Nation would almost certainly answer with a resounding "no."

It's funny how things work out sometimes. The best present is often the present you never receive.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dis patch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com or at 854-1575, ext. 455.