When Number Two Was Number One

By Jake on June 8, 2011 at 2:30p
It's alright coach, I got the leather upholsteryJim Tressel and Pryor in happier days

It's a little odd for me to be writing this piece. The first story I ever wrote for this site, all the way back in January while I was still hungover from New Orleans, concerned Terelle Pryor. It looked at the exasperating and exhilerating experience Pryor's journey had been, when there was little hint of the trainwreck waiting to unfold.

Back in the depth of winter, we were all feeling pretty damn good about things. So while the tattoos and memorabilia were troubling, in truth the strongest glare and harshest words came from those who felt he wasn't developing fast enough as a passer, rather then any serious questions about his character. 

In the midst of some semi-serious looks at stats and background on the evolution of our offense, Old Jake, like many of us I think, spared little thought for any real consequences down the road. In fact, I even ended the piece with a less-than-flattering bout of optimism that seems quite foolish in hindsight:

If nothing else he's been entertaining, and I can't wait to see what he'll do in 2011.

I could wait now.

But as easy as it is for many to cast Pryor as the Villian, Tressel as the Martyr, and Buckeye Nation as the Victim, it is also true that Pryor gave three years of his life to Ohio State, tainted as they may have been, and his career here will leave a lasting legacy, both good and bad.

While he may not have been the most important person in Ohio, he was certainly one of the most important figures at Ohio State, and one of the most accomplished players in Ohio State history. With stories about $40,000 kickbacks, a sportswriter advocating blackmail, and mass hysteria, we can often forget how truly exhilerating Pryor was to watch on the field. 

Pryor has always been a human highlight reel, flashing off big runs in a seemingly effortless stride. While other players fly around, legs churning and turf flying, Pryor seemed to glide across the field in slowmotion. More times than I could count, Pryor would slide out of the pocket, whether his protection broke down or he merely panicked, only to turn a corner with a dazzled defended tackling air where he should have been. Even in high school, his preternatural gift for evasion was more than evident. 

Pryor's "arrival" game was, of course, the Rose Bowl against Oregon. Easily his best passing performance (266 YDS, 2 TDs, 1 INT), Pryor played through injuries and still managed to eviscerate an active and tough Oregon secondary led by Mighty Mite T.J. Ward. Even more impressive, shown at 1:03 in the clip below, was Pryor's sheer physical power to go along with his gazelle-like gait. On that play, Pryor literally pushes the Oregon linebacker to the ground. That backbreaking stiffarm served him well throughout his career at Ohio State, and I will miss it. 

Pryor will never be remembered fondly by Ohio State fans, and for good reason. He lead the pack in pushing, and eventually tearing apart, the rules the NCAA set in place. In so doing, he helped to seal the fate of one of the most successful coaches in Ohio State history. But Tressel was a grown man, specifically charged with enforcing those rules. No one forced Tressel to lie to the administration, least of all Terrelle Pryor. So while I am dissappointed in him, and angry with him, I don't hate him. His betrayal was not of the first degree; he destroyed through arrogance and stupidity, not malice aforethought. For all his faults and triumphs, he does not yet deserve forgiveness, but he certainly deserves a shot at redemption.


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SouthBayBuckeye's picture

Pryor will never be remembered fondly by Ohio State fans, and for good reason.


That pretty much sums it up

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

tampa buckeye's picture

Speak for yourself.  I remember him winning a ton of games while he was at Ohio State.  I remember him beating the SEC.  Tressel is gone because he got caught in a lie.  Don't talk shit on a 20 year old kid because he lacked the judgement to "do the right thing"  although selling your surplus of gold pants and jerseys that you earned is hardly a crime.

If you want to point the finger at somebody Point it at the schools and the NCAA that use these poor kids for millions upon millions of dollars and offer next to nothing in return.  He made Ohio State football what it was for the last 2 years and without Tp Ohio State doesn't get into the Rose or Sugar bowls, but what do I f****** know I'm a guy that rooted for PJ Hill.  

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

I am 20-something( a few years older than TP, though), he can only use that excuse for so long.


Judgement on selling gold pants differs greatly from taking kick-backs on autographs to the tune of $40,000.


He may have made OSU football what it was for the past 2-3 years, but he might end up making it what it won't be for years to come. Which will you remember then?

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tampa buckeye's picture

He wasn't taking kick backs on anything.  A kick back sounds dirty, that is what ESPN wants you to think.  I'm not a lawyer but I believe it is legal to sell your own signature.  I'll google that and get back to you with an answer, but either way I'm cool with it.

 The NCAA on the other hand isn't.  Why do they care?  Is it because they can't get a piece of the action?  Does selling your autograph give you an advantage over your competition?  Its all bullshit and its bad for ya.

The program is in good hands though.  Miller and Co. are going to be just fine and as long as Ohio State can recruit OHIO then Ohio state isn't going anywhere.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

in this instance, it doesn't matter if it's legal. It matters if it breaks NCAA rules.


Ohio State can recruit as long as the NCAA doesn't limit scholarships.....

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Nitz25's picture

Pryor leaving proves the Tats are the tip of the ice berg.  I've been an OSU fan since birth but I don't understand how much smoke you need to see until you admit that the program is on fire.  If the allegations about Pryor recieving 20-40k from some local memorabilia salesmen are true (and I think that they are), and you believe the supposed former OSU parent who says they saw multiple other players in 2006 getting the same deal from the same guy, this thing gets out of control very quickly...

To all you Pryor apologists:

You look at this kids attitude and the way he carried himself the entire time he was here at OSU and you think his selling memorabilia to Ed Rife was an isolated incident?  The attitude alone is forgivable if he wins games, even the single mistake that sets the program back a little bit is forgettable in the long run... but I have a feeling the amount of shady activities this kid engaged in while wearing the scarlet and gray is going to be so great that when it is all brought to light the entire establishment of college football will not be able to seperate the gradious nature of his violatious from those of Reggie Bush's.  In that moment, we are fucked.  Because the seas of public opinion will drive the NCAA to deal out no less than what they dealt out to USC.

With each new headline the "Pyror apologist" argument morphs into something different.  First it was that the kid just needed to get by and the NCAA rules are dumb.  Then when it came out that JT knew and things got bigger it was that he was coming back for his senior year and despite a few mistakes at least he was a "true buckeye" and could still lead us to a championship to redeem himself.  After JT resigned it was that it wasn't his fault because JT made the decision to lie and this kid just didn't have the right mentor, the media is just demonizing him with shotty reporting and no evidence that he did anything other than sell a trophy or two.  Now even as he resigns and a ton of new information comes out about benefits he took in excess of anything ratioanlly defensible, the argument is that "I don't give a shit how much money he took, he won us a Rose Bowl and beat the SEC."  If you guys still defend him when his indiscretions have earned us a post-season ban, then maybe Herbie isn't so full of it afterall.

Myself? I will either be burning my #2 jersey, or getting "Jenkins" stitched onto the back of it.  Depends on if I can find a place to do the latter.

buckeyedude's picture

I still think the NCAA rule that one cannot sell one's own personal property is a dumb rule. And so does Bobby Knight:




SouthBayBuckeye's picture

It doesn't matter if we think it's a bogus rule or not. It's the rule, and that's what they'll be measured by.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

cal3713's picture

I agree with you, and am even starting to find myself feeling similarly about Tressel.  He was a great coach and did great things academically for the university... but god dammit, it was his job to prevent the program from self-combusting, and he fucking failed royally.  If he wasn't corrupt himself, he's still guilty of letting folks store their gasoline right next to the fire.  And now we're burning...

NC_Buckeye's picture

There's  so many posts that I'd like to comment on -- I don't know where to start. I still think we're getting piled on by the sports media and blogosphere. But at this point, I'm here to say that we have a huge problem. I'm personally embarassed by a football team that appears to be flagrantly violating NCAA rules on selling memorabalia & autographs on a large-scale basis. (I know these are still allegations at this point but it's looking worse and worse with each day.)

And, if it's true that Pryor was selling his autograph for $800-$1000 a piece -- that's the very reason that the NCAA can NEVER permit a student athlete to sell his (or her) memorabalia & autograph. In my mind, Pryor is no longer an amateur athlete once he sold that first autograph.

There's a big difference between Delaney's proposed additional stipend and athletes selling their stuff for whatever they can get. Booster's will start paying a couple hundred thousand for gold pants. It'll happen. I guarantee it. We don't want to go down that road. What did the guy who gave Troy Smith the $500 for his cell phone bill say? "I own him now," or something like that. I don't want our athletes to be in that position.

I think at this point Gee needs to take control and have an independent organization conduct a compliance audit of our Athletic Dept FOR ALL SPORTS. In particular, they need to audit the Compliance Office itself and find out how things got out of control. I'm not ready to blame Tressel or any of the other coaching staff for this completely. But I definitely want to know what's wrong and then correct it.

Based on that report, Gee needs to fire anyone who was complicit in this. And if even one person in the AD office didn't do his/her job then Gene Smith needs to be shown the door as well.

At this stage of my life, I've come to the realization that perception is reality. It sucks. But it's true. And right now our perception on a national level is garbage. I don't want my alma mater depicted that way. "Our honor defend"... am I right?

cal3713's picture

I think at this point Gee needs to take control and have an independent organization conduct a compliance audit of our Athletic Dept FOR ALL SPORTS. In particular, they need to audit the Compliance Office itself and find out how things got out of control. I'm not ready to blame Tressel or any of the other coaching staff for this completely. But I definitely want to know what's wrong and then correct it.


Well sir, then you should be happy, because that's almost exactly what the NCAA is doing.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

Women's pistol is probably chocked full of violations.

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Irricoir's picture

You are a pretty good ways out there regarding a good portion of your comments man. There is no doubt that the offense was built around TP and our running backs suffered as a result of that. With the defense playing as well as it has and the stable of running backs we had, I wouldn't write off that the Rose Bowl and Conference Championships were unattainable.

Point number two is correct to a degree. The sytem is corrupt and that is well documented. But just like Jim Tressel, TP only has himself to blame. He was educated in the rules that he broke. MoC best sums it up. If TP had been accountable and responsible this stuff wouldn't have piled up like it has. Even the initial charges pale in comparison to the rumors that are flying now. I am tired of all of this.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

btalbert25's picture

Without TP, Ohio State does not win the Rose Bowl.  First, we would have to rely on Bauserman in that game.  Our stable of running backs for that season was Herron and Saine, definitely not a tandem that is going to go out and win a conference and BCS title without a QB who can break off a 20 yard run at will.   Yes we had hall too, but he wasn't going to cut it either.

Without TP this season, there is no shared conference title because the Iowa game is lost as well.  It was his run late in the game when we needed a play the most that won that game for the Buckeyes.  He overcame multiple drops by his receivers and said Eff this, i'm winning this one on my own.  That's what he did.

You may not like the dude, but c'mon, with out him they don't win the conference outright and meet up with the Ducks in 2009 and the certainly don't get a share of the title in 2011.  There just wasn't anyone else who could've pulled those games out, that we have in the system. 

tampa buckeye's picture

BT speaks the truth.  

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

In the long run the extra wins won't matter in comparison to potential sncations and penalties.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

btalbert25's picture

I just don't see how the sanctions at Ohio State are going to be as severe as USC.  There's nothing that has really come out about TP that the NCAA can come out and say Lack of Institutional control.  All it would've done was proven he was inelligible, which we already knew.  Short of being able to prove that Tressel covered up other information about his player's I don't see how this adds to the penalties any.  The car stuff has largely been shot down.  The autograph stuff could be true, but nothing has come out yet. The university has complied with the NCAA this whole time.  Every shred of evidence the university had, they have been forthcoming with.  They institution has not covered anything up.  The parties responsible for violations, TP and JT have lost their jobs.  Pete Carol and Reggie Bush weren't pushed out of USC, this info came years after they were gone.  It's pretty clear that Ohio State pressed Tressel and Pryor to go.  Wins will be vacated, players have already been suspended.  The head coach and QB are gone.  I don't see the team losing 40 scholarships and multiple years worth of bowls.  In my opinion, they'll lose 1 bowl, to make up for the one they got after Tressel lied to the NCAA.  They'll get probation as well.  I'm not sure that they'll take scholarships, or if they do, I'm not sure it's as severe as others think. 

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

I'm not saying the sanctions will be as bad or worse, I'm saying that they very welll could be. It just depends on who knew what and when.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

William's picture

The sanctions won't be as severe as USC's, (We self reported, USC didn't.) and besides USC hasn't suffered from their sanctions they hauled in a HELL of a recruiting class still. The bowl ban hasn't affected recruiting there, the same will hold true with OSU. Also what kind of society do we live in where NCAA violations like Pryor's get more publicity than the four Auburn thugs who were robbing people at gun point? I'm sorry but what kind of system prohibits the selling of your own property as well as signing footballs, and jerseys for money, yet profits off of you every minute? A seriously corrupt one. The NCAA needs to go under, hopefully the OSU case will shpwcase how corrupt the NCAA is. The NCAA is a monopsony which is completely against all fair business regulations that have been implemented in the US. It's funny how stupid politicians will huff and puff about the BCS all day, when the NCAA uses its athletes to reap unbelievable profits while providing the players with nothing. Don't give me the argument that their scholarship is their pay. Being an athlete for a DI college alone is a job, not including the fact that they are students as well.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

Also what kind of society do we live in where NCAA violations like Pryor's get more publicity than the four Auburn thugs who were robbing people at gun point?


The one where ESPN has a deal with the Esssss EEEEEE SEEEEEEE


Next question.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

NC_Buckeye's picture

I agree with SBB. I think our sanctions will be just as bad or even a little worse than USC. I hope I'm wrong.

Bush got what... $300-$400 thousand dollars from an agent. Pryor might have gotten $40,000 if what his "former friend" says can be proven and since he took checks it might be proveable.  Plus, don't forget the alleged vehicle loaners and discounts on cars and rent. Again if it can be proven. You need to remember though that the NCAA investigation doesn't have to meet the legal burden of proof. The investigators just need to be convinced that something occurred. If they get to a total figure of around $80,000, I think that's close enough for the NCAA to consider them comparable violations.

Todd McNair knew about the violations and didn't report it. Same with Tressel. Comparable.

USC didn't self-report and didn't cooperate with the investigation. We did self-report and are cooperating with the investigation although it can be argued that our initial investigation back in Dec was a white-wash (or at the very least an incompetently done). But I think our self-reporting and cooperation gets nullified if it's proven that impermissible benefits are pervasive in our football program. It's starting to look that way to me. I no longer think Ray Small was trying to get payback on Tressel. I think he was telling the truth and just too dumb to realize the shitstorm he was creating.

So yeah, this could be USC bad.

I have this theory that to figure out how long it will take a program to recover from sanctions, multiply the years on probation or scholarship reduction (whichever is greater) by three. Basically, it's going to take USC nine years to recover from the Bush violations. It we were to get four years, it could be twelve years for us to get back to where we are right now.

No wonder scUM and State Penn fans are high as a kite right now. They can't beat us without a handicap.

cal3713's picture

Man, you're living in a fantasy world.  At the least, we're going to get drilled for the tat5, tressel lying, and TP selling autographs for cash to this photographer.  TP isn't quitting because people are pissed at him, he's quiting because he's about to be royally slapped by the NCAA... and so will we.  With those three major violations in a 6 month period we're going to get the LOIC charge and get f***** just as bad as USC.  I don't even feel like it's a question anymore.  The writing is on the wall folks.  Let's just hope that they pull the trigger in August rather than making us wait for the punishment until another 6 months of investigations are conducted.

William's picture

If that's true then what is the purpose of self-reporting?

cal3713's picture

I don't think we get an LOIC charge if we'd self-reported all violations... unfortunately, we didn't.  The NCAA found Pryor's most recent shit on their own.  That combined with a coach who repeatedly lied to them kills us.

I mean shit, isn't LOIC the fucking definition of what we're seeing right now??  Either we're so corrupt that we're purposely funnelling money into players hands, or we completely lost control of our players and they're cashing in on their own.  One of those is true, and either way we pay dearly.

William's picture

Well if Pryor were the only player to receive the multiple cars as well as receive money for his autograph, that would be an isolated incident and therefore that couldn't be LOIC since Pryor is only one player and not all players were committing these acts, therefore the institution isn't at fault but the player is. That's only the case if Pryor were the only one selling his signature and receiving cars, which so far seems to be the case, besides they can't lump the other Tat5 and Pryor together and rule it as LOIC because they were two seperate cases and the NCAA has already held its hearing on the Tat5, and has declared its punishment, that would be kind of hypocritical if they went back and used a seperate case and lumped it in with Pryor's and only added on to the penalties.

Brutus's picture

Not saying it's going to matter much in terms of lessening the penalties, but I think the more recent stuff on Pryor was also the result of OSU's internal investigation, not the NCAA. His 4 hour interview/interrogation was conducted by OSU compliance. NCAA may have been there, but not because they discovered the allegations.

I think there will be another self-report at some point or some sort of addendum to the last one. We still may get hit with a LOIC, but hopefully not because compliance officials were looking the other way.

KenK's picture

In the long run, any penalties and sanctions probably won't matter; in the short term they will.

Johnny Hooker: "He's not as tough as he thinks". Henry Gondorff: "Neither are we".

cal3713's picture

A lot of conjecture here...  who knows what our QB situation would have been if we hadn't signed TP.  His presence scared away a lot of other potential prospects.

Sgt. Elias's picture

Well, signing a shit ton of little helmets for payola kinda kills his "I had to sell my stuff to feed mom" argument. Dude was offered lucrative (for a college kid) deals for tats and walking around money and he took them. Now the university, teammates, and some high school kids (future buckeyes) get to pay for the sins. Annnnnd we get to speculate if Tress would still be around if these kids didn't eff up.  It really, really sucks.  

The wrath that the team has endured, and that will come will not be worth the 31-4  he brought us, IMHO

"Okay -- I've got an El Camino full of rampage here." 

Jason Priestas's picture

I kept thinking of that argument Smith made at the December presser -- that the kids were trying to support their families -- whenever I saw Pryor in the Burberry scarf on his Twitter avi.

Kid liked nice things.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Really?  Won a title with a gent named Krenzel.  This team wins 10 games per year no matter who the QB is.


btalbert25's picture

The Krenzel team probably had the best Defense of any Ohio State team in my lifetime.  That particular year, I could've led the team to at least 10 wins.  Ohio State's D has been good, but that was a truly elite D. 

M Man's picture

You'll always have Malcolm:

Chris Lauderback's picture

This whole damn saga has me conjuring up my own steaming number two.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

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BuckeyeSki's picture

Wario was hard to put down

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

Denny's picture

You call your poop 'Wario'?


BuckeyeSki's picture

It was between that or Mohammed

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SouthBayBuckeye's picture

ruhhh roohhhhh

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Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Insert TP joke here_________________.

btalbert25's picture

I will always be glad to have TP for the time we had him.  Let's face it, he won us a rosebowl, and got the SEC monkey off our backs.  He won 2 BCS bowls, and was 3-0 against Michigan.  That's quite a lot of great memories, I wouldn't have had without TP under center.  I'm not happy about upcoming sanctions and the possibility of bad football, but also, what's happening now, doesn't sour the great times I've had in the stands, in a bar, or at home watching the success these guys have had.  TP was a key to a lot of that success.

Also, it should be mentioned yet again, It's not TP's actions that have the program in hot water.  His actions could've only caused problems for TP.  Jim Tressel's actions have hurt the program.  Had he been the stand up guy we all thought he was and just faced the music, OSU may have lost key players for a stretch last year, but we wouldn't be talking about all these horrible sanctions that may be coming.  Jim Tressel cost the program.  If the man would have followed his own advice, turning the kids in to the compliance office would've been a no brainer.

JT was not trying to protect his kids from harm, he was trying to protect them from being suspended.  He was trying to protect a run at the title.  He was not being selfless, he was being selfish.  We can all point at TP and raise hell and yell about him only being out for TP, and not his team mates, but that's all JT was out for to.  I loved the guy as a coach, but folks, he's still the one to blame.  The millionare coach and grown men who are boosters are the worst culprits in this whole system. 

I'm definitely n ot saying TP has done nothing wrong.  That's not the case at all.  His actions clearly were detrimental to the team.  However, the covering up and lying about his actions by a guy who preaches about honor and values, well that's what will end up tearing the program down.

poop's picture

Your head is so far in the sand. The amount of good he did for the University won't even come close to the amount of bad he's done and is going to do for it's image. I don't even know where to start based on your past two posts so I won't even try.

btalbert25's picture

My head is not in the sand at all.  He needed to go and now he's gone.  I'm simply saying that the joy I felt watching the Rose and Sugar bowl, as well as the 3 wins against Michigan can't taken away because of this mess.  I'm simply honest enough to say that the Rose Bowl win doesn't happen without Pryor.  The Buckeyes are probably still 0-fer against the SEC. 

I'm simply admitting what everyone else is affraid to now, we needed Pryor the last 3 years.  Everyone wants to pile on him, and he deserves it.  He did something wrong and may have done a w hole lot more, at this point we don't know all his violations.  I'm not happy with Pryor, I'm glad he has been pressured to leave and decided to do so, but I'm also glad to have watched the accomplishments he was able to achieve with this team. 

Also, if Jim Tressel wouldn't have been a liar, we still wouldn't be in this mess.  We may have lost Pryor and the Tat 5 for a few games last year, but if he never covers everything up and lies, we never get investigated and exposed for all this other crap.  That's all I've been trying to say. 

TLB's picture

Yes, he won all those games by himself.  Had nothing to do with the defense that shut down Oregon and Arkansas or the terrible Michigan teams he faced.  Nope.  Only won them because he was such a great QB.

William's picture

We wouldn't have scored without Pryor in either the Rose or Sugar Bowl. Put Bauserman in either of those situations and Bauserman would have thrown plenty of touchdowns, just to the other team. The defenses were great in those games, but Pryor won those games, especially the Rose Bowl. Damage done to the university? The football program may receive flak and certainly will be penalized but he didn't damage the university, the fact that so many fans think Ohio State is just football is ridiculous. Does anyone realize the impact this university has on the state, and the nation as a research university? The football team's actions are merely a blip, there is much more to OSU than the football team...

741's picture

At this point does Pryor's performance in those games really matter? Those wins are likely to be vacated - the dude was inelligible. With all due respect, these arguments are starting to sound ridiculous.

In all fairness, I was making the same arguments last December-March, but things have changed.

btalbert25's picture

I never said he won the games by himself, I'm saying the team doesn't win those games without him.  There is a difference.  Obviously, the D was great at times, and other players came up big, but without TP under center, they lose.  They probably could've beat Michigan no matter who was under center because of the teams they had, but they don't win either of those BCS bowls.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Finally....OSU just announced Fickell will meet with members of the media next Monday at 4pm.

Jason Priestas's picture

The BTN will carry the presser live and also stream it on btn.com.

Buckeye in Athens's picture

Is anyone else really excited for this? This is pretty much the first round of interviews for Luke. 

Jrod214's picture

The fact of the matter is, no one knows what we would have done the past three years without TP. You can say we'd have had to make due with Bauserman, but that's a false assumption. Who could we have recruited if TP wasn't locked in as our starter through 2011? Or even if it was just Joe, who knows what he could have developed into? Appreciate the memories he's left us with all you want, but saying we'd have lost entire games based on his not being a Buckeye is conjecture. Fine, the fourth and 11 at Iowa was all him. But if we had a different quarterback, and a different game plan throughout the entire game, who says we'd have needed that run?

"Consistency: It's only a virtue if you're not a screwup." - Despair.com

Colin's picture

"When Number Two was Number One"


Maestro's picture

Was Henton the "former friend"?

vacuuming sucks

Abe Froman's picture

Is happy that Malcolm Jenkins was also #2.

Basking in the wake of mediocrity.....