hysteria in the headline.

With the season opener just under three days away, I would expect a fair amount of hype surrounding Terrelle Pryor’s debut at the University of Ohio State. Or wherever it is he’s going to be playing college football on Saturday. At his weekly news conference Tuesday, Jim Tressel got the expected questions about Pryor and playing time, and Tressel answered in an appropriately Tressel-esque fashion, saying that he hoped the game would work out so all three quarterbacks would get some playing time as soon as the first half.

That statement led to this, on the ESPN web page:

The headline that showed up on my reader was even worse: “Pryor won’t start but could play in Ohio St. opener.”

Sports Illustrated ran the same Associated Press story, but with a headline that’s much, much better:

The point here is this: Todd Boeckman is a senior quarterback with six years in the system. He took the team to the national championship game at the end of what should have been a rebuilding year. NO ONE THINKS HE WAS GOING TO LOSE HIS JOB TO A FRESHMAN, not even one with Pryor’s credentials. And anyone who is even vaguely aware of Jim Tressel’s tendencies and still believed that Terrelle Pryor had a chance to start his first game at Ohio State is an idiot. Outside of a couple of catastrophic injuries to Boeckman and Joe Bauserman, it just ain’t happening.

As a network that constantly tells us it does a better job of covering sports than anyone else on the face of the planet, ESPN should be embarrassed by the headlines it used in this case. It doesn’t take more than passing knowledge of the situation to understand that there is no chance that Pryor would start on Saturday. To suggest otherwise is a discredit to ESPN and its reputation.

And let’s not let the AP off the hook here, either. If you can’t read the lede under the ESPN headline, take a look here:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The most talked-about player on Ohio State has never played a down in scarlet and gray and won’t start in the season opener on Saturday against Youngstown State.

The same substance as ESPN’s headlines. Given that it’s coming from the Associated Press, I think it’s even worse.

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