Friday Skull Session

By Sarah Hardy on August 19, 2011 at 6:00 am

Good morning to the (mostly) men and (four) women who visit this site. I am en route to Ohio for a quick weekend. At this point, I've perfected the art of driving with my elbows so that when I reach Ann Arbor, I can cruise on by giving the double bird salute. I will be staying with relatives, which means I will be awoken at 7:30 each morning and if I'm not ready to wolf down a five-course meal at three in the afternoon, everyone will think I have an eating disorder. And they're all probably reading this, so let's move on.

While I'm in Ohio, I will be on the hunt for a new t-shirt for football season. I've already got a gray one coming from the 11W store, but I'm in need of a scarlet one, as last year's had to be vacated...from my closet. You see, I wore it to the Wisconsin game, and as superstition dictates, that shirt is now tainted and cannot be worn again. Even if I donned it on a weekday, the Buckeyes would lose the next time they took the field. It can be difficult having that much power over the outcome of games simply based on my attire, yet somehow, I manage.   

As you may be aware, tomorrow is the jersey scrimmage, which could determine who starts at quarterback in a mere 15 days. Even though video is not allowed, check back for updates this weekend. If nothing else, maybe we can convince Chris and Johnny to perform an interpretive dance of the QB battle.  

 CHUCK, CHUCK. IT'S JAAMAL. YOUR COUSIN, JAAMAL BERRY.  Quarterback is not the only position that may be decided tomorrow. The competition to temporarily replace Boom Herron is still open, and Jaamal Berry is hoping he gets the nod as starter. He hasn't lived up to his five-star rating yet, due in part to Boom's consistency and to a hamstring injury that caused him to redshirt his first year. After a productive practice on Tuesday, he was held out of yesterday's practice and was seen icing hamstring.

His upside, mainly his explosive quickness, won't be of much use if that injury keeps returning. As Fickell noted, running backs have to be tough to absorb all the hits they take, so if Berry wants the starting role, he has to prove his durability. The jersey scrimmage will be an important test for him as well as the other RBs.     

 MAYBE IT WAS HIS DARK PASSENGER. Have you forgotten about all the good there is in college football? Well, Sports Illustrated recruited Nick Saban, naturally, to remind everyone how awesome the sport is even amidst all the depravity. Before bits about NEEEERD Andrew Luck, pious Landry Jones, and new kid Nebraska, the article, which was written before Miami's Caligula-like shenanigans were revealed, led off with this:

America had come to the merciful end of an off-season filled with grim headlines: from the epic corruption of ex--Fiesta Bowl chairman John Junker to the serial lies of ex--Ohio State coach Jim Tressel to the firing of coach Butch Davis at North Carolina (for presiding, albeit unknowingly, over academic fraud, among other sins) to Oregon's $25,000 payment to an alleged "street agent." The cavalcade of bad press had left us to wonder: Where is the good news?

Yup, that's Tressel. Just dressing up in a clown suit and sodomizing the truth. Look, he told a lie and got caught. If that makes him a serial liar, then so is every four-year-old you know1.

Are there really people who are shocked that the pure-white snow of college athletics is actually cocaine? The system is so broken, it's a wonder that David Simon hasn't created a TV masterpiece2 based on the NCAA. It's possible to simultaneously love a sport, recognize its deep flaws, and yearn for progress. Otherwise, our favorite sport would have to become cup stacking.  

Please don't be another Maurice WellsTrying not to be so "hammy"

 THE SHARK ATTACKS. Along those same lines, Mark Titus3 went on a diatribe about the NCAA in his latest blog post. He states that the rules shouldn't be broken, but the rules themselves are dumb and exploitative. As has been mentioned numerous times in the past six months, the stipend athletes are paid is barely enough to live on, especially when you compare it to how much money is made off their abilities and likeness. Whether you agree with him or not, it's interesting to hear the perspective of someone who was very close to the situation, though as a walk-on, didn't always receive the perks that his scholarship teammates did.

Dan Wetzel took the same approach when he blamed the disease (the NCAA) rather than the symptoms (Miami). I'm sure he had a similar argument after allegations came out against Ohio State. Oh, wait...Nevertheless, his point is the following:

College athletics is killing itself whole, one hypocritical scandal at a time, yet any honest reform is almost impossible to envision.

Seriously, that couldn't remind me more of The Wire than if Tommy Carcetti became the NCAA's new president.

 THE NFL DOESN'T REALLY CARE ABOUT NCAA RULES EITHER. Doug Lesmerises outlined why despite some people's reactions, Pryor's five-game suspension in the NFL is about the supplemental draft, not about the NFL working in tandem with the NCAA. Is it just happenstance that five games was the length of his initial suspension at OSU? Maybe, maybe not. Yesterday, Lesmerises also retweeted NFL PR man Greg Aiello who claimed it wasn't about supporting NCAA rules, but about upholding their own.

Whatever the case may be, Pryor and, more importantly, his agent seem happy with the outcome. And once he's drafted, we can all breathe a little easier.

 THE CAROLINE HARRISON4 OF OHIO STATE. After several rant-y articles, how about a fluffy one about Amy Fickell, wife of Luke? Her early life was a bit of an Ohio stereotype, growing up on a dairy farm and training a cow for the county fair. She is one of 10(!) kids, with one of her sisters being married to Bobby Hoying. In a move that should surprise nobody, Mike Vrabel dialed the phone for Luke when he called Amy for their first date.

As much fun as football Saturdays are for fans, they can be quite stressful for a coach's family. The Fickells, who like to accompany the team in "Carmen Ohio" after the game, plan to cheer for the Buckeyes from the stands rather than from a private box. Just like Luke has sought Thad Matta for advice, Amy has done the same with Barb Matta. It can be easy for fans to overlook how much time a coach spends away from his family, though Mrs. Coach points out that her husband is still an involved father.

It's not like there's anything earth-shattering in the piece. Luckily for you, I've got quite the bombshell, that may or may not be true, in my write-up about Luke Fickell tomorrow. /shameless plug     

 LADIES WHO ARE GOOD AT KICKING BALLS. It's time to familiarize yourselves with the Ohio State women's soccer team, because expectations are high this year. The new season starts today, and they're hoping to build on last season's run, which ended in the Final Four. That experience should help them, but the Lady Bucks also have to handle the pressure now that other teams will be gunning for them more than ever. If they do, they'll be one of the best teams in the country.

 LINKS FOR YOUR TIME-WASTING PLEASURE. Sully trying to recruit his replacement?...Big Ten ADs on the 9-game conference schedule...Athlon Sports picks the top 10 B1G games this season...Is Walter Bishop treating soldiers with PTSD?...Things you should not try at home...I would watch a Jean-Ralphio or a Magnitude spinoff...I would also drink this...A letter Phil Hartman sent to a fan.

  • 1 We saw you eat that cookie!
  • 2 It would be ignored by the Emmys, but tastemakers would bug you about watching it until you caved and then captivated, you would turn around and push it on others.
  • 3 If you're still angry with him for the entry where he mentioned that football players drove nice cars, I think it's time to get over it. Your wrath should really be directed at the media who used that as a reputable source to fit their narrative.
  • 4 I say this because Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd president and Luke Fickell is the 23rd head coach at OSU. This is not an invitation for a political debate about whether Caroline Harrison or Frances Cleveland made a better first lady.
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