Sunday Skull Session

By Vico on February 3, 2013 at 6:00a

It's the day of the big game. Yes, the Ohio State women's basketball squad travels to Bloomington, Indiana, to battle the Hoosiers. Tipoff is 2 p.m. ET, which you can see on BTN2GO.

There's also another high-profile game that will play out today. I guess we can touch on that a little bit in this Sunday Skull Session. In fact, why not make this a Super Bowl-themed Sunday Skull Session?

"ANTLERS" AND FOOTBALL. MAKES SENSE. Like it or not, and most of you likely do not, but Ray Lewis is going to be the focal point of this game. This may be even before the talking point of two brothers, John and Jim, coaching against each other in a Super Bowl first.

Ray Lewis will retire after Sunday's game, capping a 17-year career that's been essentially brilliant. Historians of the game may label him as the best to ever play the omnipresent position of linebacker in NFL history. This is no small feat.

Neither is recovering from a torn tricep as quickly as Ray Lewis did. When he suffered the injury in the middle of October, it was just assumed his career was over. Instead, Lewis recovered in time to start the NFL Playoffs. Alas, there is an alleged culprit in Ray Lewis' recovery: deer antlers. 

Per a Sports Illustrated cover story, the owner of a S.W.A.T.S. company, Mitch Ross, phone-taped a conversation with Ray Lewis, wherein Lewis was asking for the works. He was allegedly supplied deer antlers, which contain an IGF-1 compound that is considered a performance-enhancing drug by the NFL. Ray Lewis was quick to deny the reports.

The joke is ultimately on the NFL and its fans. If fans take seriously the use of performance-enhancing drugs, then there is no means to hold Lewis accountable if he had in fact used these substances. He retires after Sunday's game anyway. What is there to do other than watch the product on the field at the Superdome?

The only takeaway from this story might be a further snowballing of mistrust in sports between the fans and the product. Given the steroid scandal that rocked Major League Baseball, and continues to result in aftershocks to this day, and Lance Armstrong's recent confession (of sorts) to Oprah Winfrey, we might be building toward a new era of sports where fans automatically assume noncompliance with rules prohibiting performance-enhancing drugs. Athletes may be guilty until proven innocent.

However, if ticket sales don't budge, and ad revenue continues to accumulate, does it matter?

THE FUTURE IS NOW. I remember conversations in the dorm room at Ohio State when I was a student ten years ago. At the time, I was only beginning to pay attention to football for the first time in my life and couldn't really ascertain why core collegiate offensive concepts, like the option, weren't more prominent in the NFL. When I would innocently ask the question, the usual answer was that pro defenses were too fast for an option offense and that the quarterback wouldn't survive the season running it. 

Lo and behold, zone read and inverted veer are now staples of the 49ers offense and Colin Kaepernick, ostrich-man nonparaleil at Nevada, is leading the 49ers into the Super Bowl.

That Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman are the offensive minds behind this transformation of the 49ers is noteworthy. This is not to diminish the intellect of either Harbaugh or Roman, but their credentials are rather "old school", if you will. Jim Harbaugh did some basic Option 101 stuff while playing at Michigan, but his pro career was marked by playing under Mike Ditka and Ted Marchibroda. Greg Roman, the offensive coordinator, was the guy behind Stanford's OL-heavy "jumbo" packages, but most of the option stuff was left to Oregon within the Pac-12.

Fast forward to Year 2 of both Harbaugh and Roman's tenure with the 49ers, and both are riding the wave of collegiate offenses in the NFL. As such, the success of the 49ers offense has made it more difficult for defenses to bring the more exotic blitzes against Kaepernick, who is not exactly a sitting duck waiting to be wrestled to the ground. 

It doesn't mean that the Ravens can't throw the kitchen sink at him, nor that it couldn't rattle him. However, even the most vicious defense, like the Ravens' defense, has to be mindful of Kaepernick's ability to escape. Further, it leaves open more one-on-one opportunities for receiving targets like the very talented Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree.

As these type of offenses begin to proliferate, in earnest, in a copycat league, it should afford more opportunities for Ohio State quarterbacks to make a name for themselves in the league. A guy like Braxton Miller clearly has a long way to go, but he can get there. Further, the NFL would be more eager to have him, rather than feeling the need to shoehorn him into being Peyton Manning.

I've always liked this picture of Ted Ginn Sr.I've always liked this picture of Ted Ginn Sr.

 TED GINN JR PLAYING FOR DAD. This one caught me a bit off guard when news ran earlier this week. But, Ted Ginn Sr. does not appear to be in the best of shape at the moment.

Ginn Sr., known to the world of Buckeye fans as head coach of the greatest high school pipeline to Ohio State football we may have ever enjoyed, is suffering from a form of pancreatic cancer. Doctors discovered a benign tumor growing on Ginn Sr.'s pancreas, which was producing an excess of insulin as a result. This is a form of a cancer, albeit one for which Ginn Sr. is fortunately expected to fully recover. 

The surgery to remove Ginn Sr.'s tumor resulted in a weight loss of 55 pounds and invited more complications. An excess of fluid had built up in his lungs, which required another surgery.

As it stands, Ginn Sr is doing better and is even in New Orleans to see two alumni of his Glenville program play in the Super Bowl. This includes his son, Ted Ginn Jr., and Donte Whitner. Expect to see him in the stands as the CBS production crew will likely find him. 

This might be the first time Ohio State fans watching TV have seen Ted Ginn Sr. in attendance at a football game since that debacle in January 2007 for which Urban Meyer kind of owes us a few national championships if we are to forget the aforementioned debacle. Ginn Sr. was a regular in attendance at Ohio State football games, home and away, while Ted Ginn Jr. played for the Buckeyes.

Obviously, we all wish Ted Ginn Sr. an easy road to recovery and hope that he enjoys the special occasion of seeing his son play in the Super Bowl.

REMINDER. 49ers v. Ravens, 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS. All four Ohio State representatives in this game (Alex Boone, Ted Ginn Jr., Larry Grant, and Donte Whitner) play for the 49ers. There's your rooting interest.

MISCELLANY. "Kaepernicking"... Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, and Patrick Willis are finding totally 100% creative things to see and do on Bourbon Street... Super Bowl media week tends to get caught on very stupid things... Speaking of which... Colin Kaepernick's back story, because Rick Reilly has a hot sprots (sic) take... It's importantly Kaepernick's life to live, Rick Reilly... Never forget... Ray Rice will always be a huge deal in his hometown... Ray Lewis didn't see nothing, from this classic SNL clip... He will have some shiny cleats, though.


Comments Show All Comments

cplunk's picture

Randy Moss was a super talent in his hey day, an awesome player. But c'mon, Randy. Not even close. I'm not a numbers guy, but to put it in numbers terms Randy would need another SEVEN years of 1,000 yard/6 TD seasons to match Jerry Rice's yardage and TD totals.
For me, and this will surely start discussion, the best I ever saw at various offensive skill positions is pretty straight forward:
QB: Joe Montana
RB: Barry Sanders
WR: Jerry Rice (with a shout out to underrated Steve Largent, who did the most with the least)
I really, really want an OSU player to make that list. Orlando Pace is to me the best NfL player out of OSU, but there are others in the discussion, especially on defense. 

Haybucks's picture

Moss wouldn't have lasted 3 years without Cris Carter.  BTW a big shout out for the NFL HOF selection committee for FINALLY putting Carter in the Hall!

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


Normal Buck's picture

Concur on all three of those guys.

kevinfrenchfry's picture

i dont think any of those guys will be considered the best in 15 years: I think if Brady wins one more hes the best without a doubt, i thinkk russ wilson will end up being one of the al time greats, adrian peterson will claim the rb title with ease, and calvin johnsone, cmon, hes clearly the most gifted WR if not nfl player in general in nfl history and hes putting up stupid numbers

buckeye85's picture

Im sorry but this couldn't be further from reality.  None of these guys are anywhere close to some of the greats that have played this game and Russel Wilson?!?!  He won't be the 50th best QB to play in he NFL.  I think we have a tendancy to forget how good some of the earlier guys really were.  Ill give you Brady, he is great, but he has lost his momentum and is seemingly stuck behind a hump when it comes to getting another title.

chicagobuckeye's picture

I agree about Wilson, but Peterson was 9 yards shy of the single season rushing record, and the entire world knew he was gonna run it on almost every single play. Time will tell if Sanders is still the best, but I have a feeling about Adrian.

jaxbuckeye's picture

Wilson!?  Where the heck did that come from?  Do you also think Tristan Thompson will be the greatest PF to ever play in the NBA?

cplunk's picture

Brady could win ten more superbowls, but with the game on the line, the ball and under two minutes left I'd still take Montana. Mister clutch, mister cool. 
I think Peterson is amazing. He's definitely a great RB, but he just doesn't have the freakish cutting ability Sanders had. Sanders was just ridiculous. Peterson might be in the discussion though, although I think Bo Jackson in his heyday was ore talented than Peterson. 
Calvin Johnson has great physical abilities, but he's just nowhere near the all-time greats right now. If he keeps it up for another ten years then we can start talking.
Somebody mentioned Gale Sayers on here, and that's worth a shout out. Saw somebody also suggested Elway as best QB, and that's not a bad call. I see some others as better but Elway was definitely special.

jaxbuckeye's picture

You talk about Montana being clutch but Elway isn't? 

cplunk's picture

Montana never lost superbowls.
Elway was great, but Joe was the greatest clutch QB of all time.

jaxbuckeye's picture

MY list (based on who I've seen play.  No offense to the old-time players):
WR: Jerry Rice
RB: Barry Sanders
QB: John Elway
TE: Shannon Sharpe
LB: Derrick Thomas
CB: Deion Sanders
S: Ronnie Lott
DL: Reggie White

Nappy's picture

I would argue Tony Gonzalez over Sharpe

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

jaxbuckeye's picture

I figured someone would say Gonzalez.  I prefer Sharpe.  Just my preference.

BigRedBuckeye's picture

With less traditional offenses and quarterbacks finding success in the NFL, anyone feel bad for Troy? Like maybe Russell Wilson is having the career he was supposed to have?

And we'll drink to old Ohio, 'Til we wobble in our shoes! 

BuckeyeChief's picture

Yes, I feel like he should still be playing. What is he doing right now?

"2014 National with it!!!"

avail31678's picture

I think he opened a restaurant somewhere in Ohio....

buckeye4life050233's picture

He works at OSU as a football operations guy now......getting into coaching and the operations side of college football

buckeyedude's picture

Agree with Joe Montana but Lynn Swann was the best receiver to ever play the game in the NFL, IMHO.



cplunk's picture

I like me some Lynn Swann. I wouldn't put him quite that high, but I think he gets almost no credit for the level of talent he had. He's kind of overshadowed by Bradshaw and the Steel curtain. He definitely deserves more respect.

Jack Fu's picture

I thought NBC and Kabletown had scrubbed "Ray of Light" from the internets. Thank you for finding it.

Killer nuts's picture

I was in New Orleans for the final 4 last year. It is a great city to host big events like the final 4 or super bowl. I'm jealous of all people enjoying the festivities down there this weekend

cajunbuckeye's picture

Killer, you would not be "jealous" of the hangover that I'm sporting this morning. It's been one hell of a party down here so far. We've met some great people from both fan bases.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

Killer nuts's picture

Ha, sounds like you need some hair of the dog

nickma71's picture

If the collegiate zone read and spread worked against real defenses, Tim Tebow would be a starter.

okiebuck's picture

Any list of RB's has to have Gayle Sayers on it; injuries cut his career way too short. Still at the top though is Jim Brown; always and forever.  

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

Baroclinicity's picture

Vico- I kind of disagree with your section entiteld "The Future Is Now" in the sense that I'm not convinced that the new offensive schemes are here to stay.  We saw a lot of changes with these new QBs that are highly effective, but the mindset is still different from the college game from which they came.
If you're a college coach, many times you only have to worry about keeping a QB healthy for a couple years, and 4 at the most due to the simple fact of high turnover.  It's easier on the consicence to roll the dice with a QB and let him run wild.
In the NFL, take RGIII.  He looks like a player that the 'Skins would like to keep for a decade.  He's already bashed his knee.  I don't see him getting that kind of longevity if he continues to play in the offense he did this year.  You get an inury to Kapernick in the next season and I bet coaching staffs start pumping the brakes on this.
I'm not saying that this offense is going away anytime soon.  I am saying don't put the permanent stamp on it yet.
That being said, I like watching these guys play.  Change can be good.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

awwwwwwop's picture

I think it all depends on scheme though.  The way the redskins run their offense gets RGIII obliterated all the time.  If you watch the 49ers play, they scheme so well that they have taken the hits off of the quarterback.  Kap is great at running the pistol and is very smart about taking it outside when he has blockers and getting to the sideline. I think this offense is sustainable because on the zone read, unless there is a major error, the ball carrier shouldn't be hit, that is the whole point.  It's not like the traditional option where you are strung out with your eyes off of the defense.

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch

Catch 5's picture

Speaking if the deer antler spray, SB Nation sent a correspondent to check it out in person. It does not disappoint.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

Baroclinicity's picture

How has that place not been busted yet?

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Catch 5's picture

I think the guy was busted some time back for steroids. He supposedly got his life turned around and started this SWATS thing, but at best he's still a complete nutjob - crazy as an outhouse rat.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

okiebuck's picture

NFL defenses WILL catch up and shut or slow down the spread option; probably starting next year. QB's will always be evaluated on throwing the ball and what's between the ears. Escapability is a good thing but nothing beats a strong armed guy with smarts.

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

TLB's picture

I don't think you will see these offenses be as dynamic next year.  It kinda caught some defenses off guard this year, but they'll be able to work on stopping it in training camp next year.   
Kappernick, though, is the best of these type QB's because he is the most accurate passer.

iball's picture

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

RBuck's picture

Thank you for the "Breaking news".

Long live the southend.

RBuck's picture

Hoping to see Teddy take one to the 'zone for Dad.

Long live the southend.

okiebuck's picture

And Donte Whitner getting a pick would be nice too!

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

Donny T's picture

And love to see Alex Boone pancake Ray Lewis' fat ass a few times.

RedStorm45's picture

Heard one of the beat writers for San Fran on the Buckeye Show this week and they said a lot of people in the organization view Ted Ginn (Jr.) as a flop or failure, that he doesn't like contact and is basically just a track guy, and he even went on to say he's played like he's already retired.  Maybe he can change some minds with a return tonight.  I don't know the timing of his dad's situation, but perhaps his mind was elsewhere this season.

Squirrel Master's picture

Yep, I agree. Urban owes us at least 2 National Championships to make up for 2007. Do it! Do it!

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

btalbert25's picture

I don't know if it was antler spray or not, but Ray used something to speed his recovery.  It took him 10 weeks to recover from something that normally takes 6 months.  At 37 years old he recovered faster than normal AND when he returned he played at a higher level than he was before he went out.  C'mon, dude was on something. 

Donny T's picture

Yeah, he was on a mission from God.:) But agree, anybody who thinks he worked himself back into shape with no extraordinary help is in serious denial.

RedStorm45's picture

Michigan fans claiming they have two "michigan men" coaching in the Super Bowl.  Idiots.

Knarcisi's picture

Well, they alienated Jim several years ago. The idiots could have had him coaching, at least for a few years rather than Standford. Instead, they struck out with the Hatter and got Dick Rod. 

btalbert25's picture

Here's a question for all of you guys.  If 10 years from now (wishful thinking) Urban Meyer retires for good, would you all accept Jim Harbaugh as his replacement? Maybe after restoring the 49ers to being the premier program in the NFL he would like to work on a new goal, DESTROYING TTUN.  Would you accept a Michigan Man leading the Buckeyes? 
I don't believe this will ever happen, nor do I want it to, it's more a question for discussion purposes.  Would you accept a man who called his shot against the Buckeyes to lead the Buckeyes?  

Knarcisi's picture

I'd take him. Hated Urbz too, but now he's on our team. 

cplunk's picture

If he says "yes" to the Buckeyes and commits all his energy to making the Bucks the best team they can be, then he is no longer a Michigan man. He's a recovering Michigan man.

Brutus's picture

Great question. Yes, I'd accept him.  It would be a huge FU to scUM. Remember, Bo was a Woody disciple and an Ohio State coach before going up north.  Not quite the same circumstances, but he didn't have any issues becoming the ultimate Mich. man.

osubuckeye4life's picture

Best of luck in your fight Ginn Sr. Get well soon!
Any list of best running back of all time must also mention. "Sweetness" Mr. Walter Payton. 
I would say best all time is Sanders, Payton, and Brown.