On top of that, the NBA and NHL seasons continue, and even soccer fans have a reason to watch the tube with the debut of Seattle Sounders FC in the MLS season opener (hey, say what you will, but the Sounders have sold all tickets available in Qwest Field).
But for Ohio State fans, there's more than one reason to view March 19 as big day on the calendar, for one year ago today Terrelle Pryor signed his letter of intent to play football at the university.
This event touched off major celebrations among the Ohio State faithful. Most on this website were pretty confident heading into the day thanks to the standout work of a number of BuckeyeSports.com staffers, but seeing Pryor put on the Block O hat certainly calmed the nerves and sent Buckeye fans into hysteria.
So what has been the net effect of signing the nation's No. 1 player through the first 365 days? Well, there are a number of ways to look at it.
One could argue either side of whether Pryor's presence was a positive on the field in 2008. The specter of a quarterback controversy between the hotshot freshman and senior quarterback Todd Boeckman always seemed possible, and the early-season struggles threw the program into an awkward situation that ended with Pryor as the starter and at least some Boeckman supporters bitter.
For the first time since 2004, Ohio State lost three games, and the Buckeyes fell short of the national title game for the first time since 2005. There's no telling what would have happened if Pryor hadn't come to OSU and Boeckman, without a challenge, spent 2008 as a confident captain, so to say that Pryor's presence was the reason for the small step back would be silly. On the other hand, the team showed that no matter how good some other position groups are, it's hard to win as a freshman quarterback – even one as talented as Pryor – goes through growing pains.
And lest anyone think that I'm panning Pryor's first season, I think he had a marvelous if inconsistent showing. Throw in the thought held by some that he was hampered as the season went on by nagging injuries and it becomes even clearer that Pryor showed unbelievable skill and poise for a true freshman.
Plus, there's the added benefit that the on-the-job training Pryor received in his first season will pay huge dividends as early as this coming season. He learned which of his prodigious skills translate seamlessly to the college setting and which parts of his game need to be refined while on the field with bigger, faster and smarter athletes. Even if one feels that his presence provided even a small drag on the possible accomplishments of the 2008 team, the potential for higher returns in the future is strong.
Of course, nothing is gifted in college football, and Pryor still has to lead this team to great things rather than have the potential to do so. He may be the No. 1 player anyone in college football would choose to build around, but it is dangerous to assume success – which at Ohio State is measured by national championship trophies – will follow.
Pryor will have an excellent supporting cast around him, though, as he attempts to reach the top of the mountain over the next few seasons. I don't think it's any coincidence that Ohio State signed a consensus top-five recruiting class in 2009, a class that Scout.com lists as the best in all the land.
Ohio State was already a cool place to be, but adding a player like Pryor, known to even the most casual of sports fans, shows Ohio State's viability as a destination for talented players from across the country (well, except for quarterbacks in the class of 2009).
No one can argue that the future isn't bright at Ohio State, and Pryor is the No. 1 reason for the optimism around the Buckeye State. And for that, everyone can look back to that day one year ago where Pryor officially signed up with OSU.
To help you remember March 19, 2008, here's a collection of links to Scout stories that chronicled the occasion.