Thousands of words typed between 11:30 p.m. and 3:00 a.m... what could go wrong?
(No amount of typos, blown syntax, or fumbling of rudimentary facts will stop this Christmas Eve Skull Session Extravaganza; that is my oath to these streets.)
URBAN MEYER, BUT LIKE, AS AN NFL COACH. Pete Carroll won a Super Bowl, and Chip Kelly hasn't flamed out in the NFL. Even though Jim Harbaugh is poised to leave The Greatest Sports League in the History of the Galaxy (*read in my NFL Real Serious NFL Shitperson Voice*) there will be plenty more college coaches willing to make The Leap.
Charles Davis of NFL.com ruminated on some names that should interest NFL executives, and one name in particular struck me:
Urban Meyer wins everywhere he goes. His attention to detail is second to none, and he's always going to be on the cutting edge to stay ahead of the curve and make his team better. He and Pete Carroll have some similarities in the way they value competition within a team. Meyer's personality, stature, and ability to not just adapt but to evolve and thrive give him an excellent chance of being a big-time NFL coach. He's never coached on the pro level, but that's a very minor concern for me, because he can -- and does -- talk football X's and O's with some of the brightest NFL minds.
Urban's said in the past he had a chance to turn pro "years ago" but did not take it. While I think Urban could succeed in the NFL, there's a reason why he's in college, and it's everything to do with his devotion to the college game. (Urban, unlike most coaches, loves recruiting, after all.)
As football continues to open up via tighter defensive regulation, executives are starting to realize that no matter what the level, football is still 11 vs. 11. And we all know what an X's and O's guru Urban is. (Don't sleep on his administrations skills either, which I think would carry over well into an NFL generalship.)
I just don't think Urban Meyer would ever go to the NFL, but one of my biggest beliefs in life is every man has his price. Could Ohio State go rack for rack with a dead sea monster's doofus son who doesn't answer to trustees? It makes me uneasy to think it couldn't (or wouldn't).
PITT FAILS TO HIRE LUKE FICKELL. The Chris Ash-Luke Fickell marriage has been a harmonious one, but on the heels of news that Chris Ash interviewed for the Colorado State head coaching job comes this:
Narduzzi topped a field that included Marshall head coach Doc Holliday, Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and Pittsburgh assistant Joe Rudolph. Narduzzi interviewed for the Colorado State job in Las Vegas on Sunday night but declined interest in order to pursue the position at Pitt. Yahoo Sports first reported that he was emerging as the leader at Pitt. He replaces Paul Chryst, who left to become Wisconsin’s head coach last week. Chryst’s departure led to the removal of athletic director Steve Pederson.
Thamel, if you'll remember from yesterday's excellent Cardale Jones article, is deeply connected to Urban Meyer's staff, so this report is about rock solid as it gets outside of being in the clandestine lair in which the meeting probably transpired.
Despite all the hate Fickell gets from fans who are undoubtedly smarter and more knowledgeable than him, I think Fickell will be a fine head coach one day. Although, I do understand why Pitt chose Narduzzi over Fickell. (No offense to Luke, obviously.)
So here's a list of assistants who have interviewed: Tom Herman (gone), Ed Warinner with Kansas, Fickell with Pitt, and Ash with Colorado State. Those last three will be gone within the next couple of years. If Ohio State's receivers continue their development I suspect programs will start poking around for Zach Smith as well.
Those will all be big replacements too, because Urban whiffed on replacing the likes of Dan Mullen and Charlie Strong at Florida, and that led to a lack of trust and long nights at the office. You know how that ended.
EARLE BRUCE: SUGAR BOWL DADDY. Here's a stat that might blow your mind: Including Urban Meyer and Nick Saban, assistants of former OSU coach Earle Bruce have won 8 of the last 12 national titles, with a 50% chance of making it 9 of 13.
That's just one of many interesting facts the indomitable Jeff Svoboda of BuckeyeSports.com unearthed in his exploration of Earle Bruce's impressive coaching tree:
“There’s a lot of good ones,” Bruce told BSB recently. “I had a lot of good coaches. I’m proud of every one of them because they really contributed to the success that I had.”
The accomplishments of Meyer – a graduate assistant in charge of tight ends in 1986 and wideouts in 1987 under Bruce – and Saban, who coached the defensive backfield in 1980 and ’81 – have been well-chronicled. Saban has national titles in 2003 at LSU and 2009, ’11 and ’12 at Alabama, while Meyer ushered in the era of SEC dominance with his crowns in 2006 and ’08 at Florida.
Then there’s Jim Tressel, who coached the offensive skill positions for Bruce from 1983-85 before winning four Division I-AA titles at Youngstown State and the 2002 crown at Ohio State. And Pete Carroll, who captured last February’s Super Bowl with Seattle and also won the BCS title in 2004 at USC, was brought in as defensive backs coach when Bruce was hired in 1979 after serving a year in the same role under the coach at Iowa State.
It's crazy how much head coaching talent has been through Ohio State's halls... but if you step back and look at the assistant level, it's truly mindblowing.
I wonder: where did someone like Pete Carroll, who is not a normal person, get hammered on the regular in Columbus? Nowhere fancy, because not even head coaches were living high on the hog back then:
Pete Carroll strikes me as a Ledo's kind of guy. (I've only been to Ledo's once, but it was extremely good.)
CARDALE JONES, OSU'S NEW COVERBOY. I mentioned Cardale Jones' Sports Illustrated regional cover yesterday. Some of you shrugged at the SI cover jinx because all four playoff QBs were featured. I must warn you, though: I too rolled my eyes at people who warned about the SI jinx after Braxton Miller's August regional SI cover, and look what happened. (Due to my ignorant distrust of modern medicine, science, and math, I vowed to never disrespect the arcane arts again.)
Regardless, Cardale's reaction to being on the cover of SI was great:
If you thought King Cardale stopped there, you don't know King Cardale:
Watching Cardale Jones cover himself in glory is a euphoria that grades out at a crisp 8.7 Happy Jamarcos. It probably borderlines on pathetic of how proud I am of Cardale, a guy six years my junior whom I've never met.
But I was glad to see Austin Ward of ESPN.com write the only article on Cardale Jones' infamous tweet that I'd read in 2014:
"I remember I was in class, and I think I got, like, a B on a [sociology] exam," Jones said. "It was just something so stupid; of course I didn't feel that way about academics, and I don't. Nobody in this program feels that way, we actually take that stuff very serious around here.
"It was just a dumbass thing to do. I definitely didn't think that would happen. It was just a stupid thing to do at that time. It was something where I just got pissed because I studied my ass off."
"I don't really care about the reaction as far as I got, you know, people saying all type of stupid stuff [on social media]," Jones said. "You know, I can take the heat from people from the outside looking in. But I was more worried about the fact that I embarrassed the university, the football program and definitely my family. That's what I cared about."
There's something I would not have guessed: Cardale Jones' "We didn't come here to play school" tweet was spurred by a B on a sociology exam. It's good to see his internet haters can't tell him nothing, either.
Seriously, though, I can't stress this enough: I will not be writing the Skull Session on Jan. 2 if Cardale Jones controls the Tide like he's a younger version of Moses. My heart will have burst and I will be dead. Do not waste your time mourning me; instead, revel in the glory of Cardale Jones.
OSU EFFICIENCY. Here's something I had never considered: Ohio State's offense operates with a Terminator-like efficiency:
All three quarterbacks can run and throw; those are prerequisites of being an effective quarterback just about anywhere these days. But all three are built to do those two things differently. Jones is 6-5, 250 pounds, with an arm strong enough to loft passes 80, 85 yards. Barrett is 6-1, 200 pounds, a smart, accurate passer. Miller is simply "a freak athlete with a freakishly strong arm," as Herman put it.
All three follow a generalized strength and agility program in the offseason, plus an increased focus on core work, shoulder strengthening and footwork in both the preseason and season.
"In our system, the quarterbacks run the ball," said Mickey Marotti, Ohio State's assistant athletic director for football sports performance and longtime right-hand man to Meyer. "So they've got to prepare like a running back. They've got to have a big neck, big traps, big strong legs, a powerful lower body, a powerful core. They need to be able to jump, run, change direction, do all that."
I know I'm in the minority of saying Ohio State is going to put it down on the Tide, but it's pretty wild how Ohio State is riding confident as hell into a playoff game with its third-string quarterback against the era's premiere program. Regardless of the outcome of the Sugar Bowl, nobody can take that from Ohio State.
The crazy thing? I wouldn't trade spots with Alabama, even if its recent championships came with the package.
JEFF HEUERMAN, FREAK. This is a lot more safe for work than the last time Jeff Heuerman and "freak" appeared in the news, but Heuerman's high selection in the 2015 NFL draft should help in killing off negative recruiting Ohio State faces with tight end prospects.
From Fox Sport's Bruce Feldman, who names Ohio State's senior tight end as the country's No. 9 "freak" to watch this bowl season:
The Buckeyes have more than their share of freaky athletes -- linebacker Joshua Perry could easily merit a spot on here -- but I went with the 6-5, 255-pound tight end. Heuerman, who has caught 17 passes and two TDs this season, wasn't on our Freaks list this summer, but he should've been. In the Buckeyes' offseason testing, he did 24 pull-ups, benched 465 and vertical jumped 37 inches.
Heuerman's production was limited due to nagging injuries, and even when he was healthy he was not going to consistently produce eye-popping numbers due to Ohio State's offense. Ultimately, neither issue stopped Heuerman's stock from soaring:
Todd McShay Top 2 TE Draft Prospects: 1) Devin Funchess; 2) Jeff Heuerman— Tony Gerdeman (@GerdOZone) October 11, 2014
Heuerman is considered one of the best tight end prospects in the draft. Much like how Mike Conley was able to snowball from a Final Four blinder into an NBA Draft lottery selection, Heuerman could be the first tight end taken in 2015 with an impressive outing against Alabama.
Don't sleep on Heuerman against Alabama either, folks. I'm hopeful he'll be as healthy as he'll be crucial.
IMPORTANT PSA & HARBAUGH!!!. I'm about to link to an article from That Blog Up North that I actually 100% agree with, so to counterbalance that, let's all watch (and laugh at) a Michigan student hitting a $10,000 shot a half-second too late (via @CollegeSpun):
I am such a hater, but much like my idol, Silky Johnson, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Now that The Force is counterbalanced, a grievance I would like to air is my disgust for people who aren't paid by bowl sponsors using the full-blown, corporate-saturated name of bowl games. It's confusing, annoying, and most importantly, baffling.
I write this column every year: a plea for humans of the college football world to use clear language instead of the names they have for bowl games. Truthfully, a brand name for a bowl game communicates something, but think how much more accurately we could communicate if things like geographical location, history, traditions, and common, relatable experiences were more important than who pays the most.
I realize not everybody enjoys the ability to elegantly express ideas to other humans as much as I do, and that mercantile interests can be human interests as well. But since I started using language in my communication, I've experienced a 1000% improvement in comprehension, and I wanted to share that success story with you. Don't believe me? Here are some other humans who've benefited from this same extraordinary device:
[happy-man4] : "Hello, I'm Steve, a relatable middle aged white man with the body, hairline, and lifestyle that other middle aged white men envy. My wife Janet and I are proud Bowling Green graduates and big fans of the Falcons. I wanted to get Janet a trip to BGSU's bowl game for Christmas, but when I triumphantly announced "We're going to the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl!" she was very confused. Then I discovered Talking Like a Human Being™, which taught me to tell Janet it's the "Camellia Bowl in Montgomery." Janet was thrilled, because the name communicated to her that we were going to a bowl game in Montgomery, and the flower association made it memorable!"
Agreed. I understand why talking heads at ESPN call it the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, I just don't understand why everybody else does.
It's the same with Cleveland Browns Stadium; Jimmy Haslem can sell the rights to whomever he wishes, but to me that factory of horrors will never be known as anything but Cleveland Browns Stadium.
I'm glad we settled that.
Moving on, I typed yesterday about thirsty-ass Michigan Football openly hitting on Jim Harbaugh, but not even I would've guessed how surreal it all was:
The Michigan football twitter account didn't even wish Devin Gardner a happy birthday last week.— Max Cohen (@MaxACohen) December 23, 2014
Jim Harbaugh's birthday: A day for memorable Michigan football tweets. pic.twitter.com/FMjY3IEubA— Ramzy Nasrallah (@ramzy) December 23, 2014
Woof. Somebody asked me why I think Harbaugh-to-UM is happening (which, for the record, would be a boon for The Rivalry), and it's because of stories and tweets like this:
Okay, here it is: Short of last-minute change of heart - still possible, w/NFL offers coming- I'm calling JH to UM 85%. Too much inside info— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) December 23, 2014
Granted, every report on Harbaugh seems to come with some CYA disclaimer, but Harbaugh already coaches Michigan in the barren wastelands of my mind.
If Harbaugh is merely leaking all of this supposed Michigan interest to extort pennies from one of those aforementioned NFL goofballs and his dead dad's barnacle-encrusted warchest, then Harbaugh — who is so ruthless he once methodically hunted a 10 year-old to win a laser tag game — would be playing it to the hilt.
Ohio State was as desperate for Urban Meyer as Michigan is for Harbaugh, but Ohio State was never openly hitting on him via social media or pushing its chips into the middle of the table in such a public fashion.
I don't know where Michigan would go if Harbaugh spurned them for a Godfather Offer Across the Bay — which could ultimately be hamstrung by the Niners — but I do know there isn't enough memory on my laptop for the amount of screencaps I would take of Michigan commenters' tears in order to mock them in a post.
TUSCALOOSA GOT OWNED REAL GOOD. We received this on the Eleven Warriors batline:
The sender explains:
Hope all is well this holiday season, my name is Grant Oehler and I'm a sophomore student at The Ohio State University. I'm an active member on the OSU Club Golf team and recently we took a trip to Mississippi for the Fall National Championship. On our way, we passed through Tuscaloosa and stopped to take some pictures by the football stadium. This was before we had even played in the B1G Championship game, so obviously we had no idea we would be playing Alabama, but we still managed to get a pretty cool photo behind enemy lines. [...] Thank you and Go Bucks!
Alabama actually has to forfeit the game now, so thanks to Grant Oehler and the club golf team for that one. That was big.
OHIO'S CAPITAL IS BOOM CITY. I've met a lot of people from the suburbs of Columbus who seemed a little to eager/happy to get away from Columbus. It looks, as I suspected, like the joke is on them.
This year, the downtown population surged 75%, to 7,000 from 4,000 in 2004. Overall, the city’s population is 822,553, according to U.S. Census figures for 2013, up from 787,033 in 2010. Efforts to expand that figure include a redevelopment plan along the downtown banks of the Scioto River for riverfront parks, restaurants and entertainment.
In early 2015, the Columbus Museum of Art plans to open a new wing as part of a $37.6 million renovation. At the same time, the Joseph, a Starwood Le Méridien hotel aimed at business travelers will open in the Short North on High Street, the city’s main thoroughfare. New luxury residential projects also are going up in Weinland Park, a neighborhood near the University district.
Buyers are seeking homes in the city’s most walkable neighborhoods, such as Italian Village and Victorian Village (two areas that make up the dense Short North arts district) and the long-prosperous German Village, which still has brick-paved roads. With strict rules maintaining charming historic districts, the city has one of the largest inventories of historic homes in the country.
Financial advice from a man with no financials: Get into the Columbus market now. The prices are only going to go up, because Columbus is booming. Why wait on that move back to the promised land you've always kept on the backburner of your mind? This winter has been a cakewalk.
The city — and more importantly, the state — needs your hammer. Ohio shall bring the future to its knees.
THOSE WMDs. Jameis Winston's accuser speaks for the first time... Marshawn Lynch is one of the best humans alive... Baptism by Fire: A Rookie New York City Firefighter Confronts His First Test... Jim Harbaugh once smeared a player's blood on his face like warpaint... Coming to Terms with My Father's Racism... Hero hospitalized after drinking a quart of eggnog in 12 seconds for a work party contest... She really did come out like an old school video game villain... Reminder: Cheaters do win quite a bit... I can see why Kim Jong-Un would be furious... Boeheim: Still the worst... I assume this kid is dead now... Taylor Swift here to warn you about C Y B E R W A R.