Thursday Skull Session

By D.J. Byrnes on July 24, 2014 at 6:00 am
Photography class in front of Orton Hall, 1908 via The Ohio State Archives

The Thursday Skull Session will be served as soon as I recover from the shock of getting drilled by three ~10-year-olds in a video game...

OSU's B1G MEDIA DAYS EMISSARIES. Big Ten Media Days are almost upon us. It means a lot of quotes such as, "Our defense is going to be more aggressive this year," and "Our team fixed [whatever problem plagued the team last year]."

Maybe Randy Edsall and James Franklin will elevate their feud by brawling by the buffet lines (a man can dream, right?), but I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, here's ESPN's look at Ohio State's player-emissaries:

Michael Bennett, DT, senior: Ohio State's defensive line might be the league's best position group and Bennett, a preseason All-American, is a big reason why. After recording seven sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles in 2013, Bennett is pegged as a possible first-round draft pick and will be in the mix for national awards. 

Jeff Heuerman, TE, senior: The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Heuerman provides a big target in the passing game and should claim a bigger role in the offense this season after recording 26 receptions and four touchdowns in 2013. 

Braxton Miller, QB, senior: He's the biggest name at Big Ten media days -- the league's reining offensive player of the year in both 2012 and 2013. Miller already has won more Big Ten awards (seven) than any player in league history, but he still lacks a Big Ten championship. 

Bennett is an amusing guy, but players aren't chosen for media days because they're amusing. They're chosen because they can be trusted to toe the company line. (Michigan tapped a convicted felon, by the way.)

And yes, maybe I'm still salty Jim Tressel never sent Jonathan Newsome, Duron Carter or Keyboard James to media days.

A LOOK AT THAD MATTA'S CAREER. If I were a beatwriter, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmeries would be frustrating to read, because not many people are on his level.

With Thad Matta recently reaching 10 years of service at Ohio State (I remember when he was hired — another frightening reminder I'm old and I need to die), the Plain Dealer is running a four-part series on Matta's time in Columbus.

The first installment is worth a read in full, but this part stuck with me: 

Asked then about his disappointments over 10 years, and Matta says, "How much time do we have?" He then jumps to a very specific memory from the 2007 84-75 national title game loss to Florida:

"I wish I wouldn't have taken Michael Conley out when he got his second foul against Florida (with 12:16 left in the first half and the game tied). He was too smart. I should never have done that. They extended the lead on us a little it.

"But I think, as a coach, you're constantly evaluating everything that you do. And there's obviously a lot of things that you'd like to have back or a decision you'd like to remake. But what is exciting is it's never the same.

"You can't do the same thing every single day. There's going to be change. And that starts with me."

I was in college in Montana, drinking slugging a bottle of Jack Daniels with a fellow Ohioan, and Mike Conley's second foul in the national title game against Florida is basically the last thing I remember other than throwing up in my toilet later that morning. (I will always hate you, Joakhim Noah.)

A lot of Ohio State fans take Thad Matta for granted, and I don't like it. Is he the best coach in the country? No, but he's the best coach in Ohio State's history, and Ohio State couldn't do better than Thad.

We're lucky to cheer for the school that employs him.

ANTHONY LEE: A TOP NEWCOMER. Staying on the basketball tip, David Fox of Athlon Sports says Anthony Lee will be the top "newcomer" (freshman or transfer) in the Big Ten:

The 6-foot-9, 230-pound Lee will give Ohio State a key player in thin frontcourt. He was one of the top rebounders in both the Atlantic 10 and the American as the Owls changed leagues. Lee ranked in the top 200 in offensive and defensive rebound rate last season and ranked 11th nationally in defensive rebound rate two years ago, according to He also averaged a career-high 13.6 points per game last season.

Five-star recruit, D'Angelo Russell, checked in at number five:

Russell didn’t become eligible until late June, but his arrival means Ohio State will have the most highly touted member of its signing class available this season. The McDonald’s All-American is a combo guard who should give the backcourt a much-needed scoring jolt.

I'm looking forward to the newblood on Ohio State's men's basketball team. These two fellas alone are going to solve a lot of problems that plagued the 2013-2014 squad.

BOB STOOPS DROPS THE MIC. At SEC Media days, Nick Saban said it was tough to get his team up for the Sugar Bowl, which he called a "consolation game." (Is that an excuse, Nick?)

That wording did not sit well with Oklahoma coach, Bob Stoops, whose team won that game, 45-31.

From Brett McMurphy of ESPN:

"They didn't look like it was a consolation game on that first drive when they scored a touchdown and everyone thought they were going to rout us," the Oklahoma coach said. "I've been in plenty of those [non-national title games]. We've played in a bunch of national championship games, right? ... That's a good one.

"So that means I've got a built-in excuse the next time we don't play for a national championship?"

Ho ho ho! GET 'EM BOBBY!!!! After laying into the SEC continuing to roll with eight conference games, Bobby hit his crescendo: 

"They said 'the SEC this, the SEC that,' " Stoops said. "I said, 'You talk like all 14 teams are this, that and the other thing.' I said, 'You have to give credit to the first one or two that have won the national championship, but don't act like they're all doing that.'

"The year I said that, the bottom half of the league was like 0-36 against the top half of the league. The bottom half of the league isn't beating anybody. So they jumped on that I was getting on the bottom half of the league. Things circle and people only say what they want to hear. What I said wasn't false. The bottom half wasn't beating many people. That was my only point."

What did Tecumseh always say? "You can take a boy out of Youngstown, but you can't take Youngstown out of the boy?" Yeah, I think that's it.

Either way, I think the likes of Tennessee and Kentucky just got reduced a heap of molten ash.

HATIN' ASS RICH ROD. Gah, I miss our old friend, Richard Rodriguez. Why did Michigan fire him? (Because Michigan is awful and doesn't like fun.)

O! That's diabolically hateful, Silky!

THOSE WMDs. Why do Americans suck at math?... Michael Essien used to be a terror... Ominous: Archaeologists find ancient ring... Video of skydiving into Huntington Park...  EPL's Crystal Palace put together a tourist guide to Columbus... Art Briles' in-state recruiting pitch is fantastic... Keystone Cop Jimbo Fisher explains why Jameis Winston's theft was "an honest mistake"... A Browns fan filmed himself urinating on Art Modell's grave... Art Modell's family is not happy about a Browns fan urinating on Art Modell's grave... You Are Now Entering the Demented Kingdom of William T. Vollmann.

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