Friday Skull Session

By D.J. Byrnes on November 6, 2015 at 4:59 am

Art Modell did Cleveland a favor.


 THOMAS ON TRACK. Along with breaking the stories that Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, and Raekwon McMillan would be good this year... I broke the story that Mike Thomas would be a star for Ohio State. 

Does this make me an NFL scout? Because it should. 


This year, Thomas has caught 35 passes for 536 yards and six touchdowns, and is cranking into form along with the rest of the offense. He enjoyed his first career 100-yard receiving game on Oct. 10 against Maryland, then turned in another two weeks later at Rutgers. 

“I feel like I'm still developing,” Thomas said. “We kind of started off slow as a whole, so I feel like I'm picking up.”

If Thomas lacks top-end speed, scouts note his size, hands, disciplined route-running, blocking, and innate body control. Like the NFL draft gurus, Johnson sees Thomas as a first-round pick — either next year or in 2017 — and swears, “That's not bias. That's just factual.”

“He’s becoming what I’d deem a man amongst boys in both the pass game and the blocking game,” Johnson said. “You can tell a big difference in players that can actually play the game versus scheme/​system players.”

I'm not one to critique Urban Meyer, but if I were, one critique of mine would be the fact Michael Thomas isn't targeted 10 times a game. Breakaway speed is about the only thing his game lacks, but it's not like that makes him easy to tackle.

I'm aware the defense dictates who gets the ball for Ohio State, but I feel Thomas should have more than 536 yards at this point.

Still, I remain eternally grateful to west coast schools for passing on him.

 MARSHALL TALKS RETURN ADVENTURES. One of the perks of fandom is the ability to criticize people risking life-and-limb from the safety of your own couch. I can't even toss a bean sack onto a hunk of plywood from 15' away, but will that stop me from cussing at whatever poor sap is currently at the helm of the Cleveland Brown offense? No.

I speak of that because returning punts always mesmerizes me. Tracking the ball through the lights while doing fair catch calculus in your head as concrete men run down the field targeting you seems horrifying. I would not sign up for that.

Jalin Marshall signed up for it, and he's not apologizing for anything.


"I probably scare a lot of people," he said, chuckling. 

Marshall does scare people. Marshall has come within inches of accidently touching an unreturnable ball on a punt return this season, balls he had no business being around. But Marshall has an explanation for his sometimes over-aggressiveness.

He wants to score. 

"I would probably rather return a punt than catch a touchdown, you know, it's kind of difficult or different," Marshall said. "You're out there on special teams unit and you take it back to the house, not many people can do that. A lot of people can play receiver, but not many can play punt return."

Urban Meyer will never fault a player for playing hard and trying to make plays. Take those two factors into account, and it's easy to see why Marshall got the nod.

 YOU'LL GIVE THEM MORE MONEY AND YOU'LL LIKE IT. Some fans bristled at the idea of paying $195 face value for a ticket to next year's Michigan game, but Gene Smith would like to remind them that it could be worse.


"If we were to stop right now and really look at these numbers, $195 for the Michigan game is significantly underpriced," Smith said Thursday at an OSU board of trustees finance committee meeting. "We could right now make a decision and charge that at $250. But we've got to be prepared – is our culture ready for that?"

Tickets for the Buckeyes' home game Nov. 21 against undefeated Michigan State, which were priced at $150, also could have easily gone for $250, Smith said.

As long as Ohio State keeps winning at its current (and historic) rate, it could raise the prices to "soul of first born" and "reverse mortgage." Would people be willing to pay $195 for a pristine view of a befuddled John Cooper as his team trailed Michigan by 10 points with two minutes to go? I'm not so sure. 

 MITCHELL FAMILY WE HARDLY KNEW YE? Ohio State freshman Basketbuck forward Mickey Mitchell is not yet cleared to play for Ohio State, and according to one report it's unlikely he ever will.


A source close to the situation told Texas Top 100 the NCAA has questions on Mitchell’s move from Orlando to Dallas in 2010. The source mentioned the Texas Titans’ involvement with Mitchell’s move as the NCAA’s concern, and that it was unlikely Mitchell will play this season for Ohio State.

Thad Matta will address the situation later today, and our Tim Shoemaker will be on hand. In the meantime, I'd like to offer my bagman services to any shady-ass Texas billionaire/AAU team in need of such an employee because getting pinched five years after the fact is embarrassing for all parties.

 MEET THE NEW MANAGEMENT, SAME AS THE OLD MANAGEMENT? Ohio State will face an interim coach on Saturday, but Minnesota's Tracy Claeys might not be long for the temp-employment world.


A source told FOX Sports Wednesday that there are a lot of key supporters in Claeys' corner pushing for him to retain the job beyond just the rest of this season. 

Claeys' mentor Jerry Kill was beloved by Gopher brass and the fact that Claeys is seen as an extension of the 54-year-old coach, who had to retire last week due to health concerns, is very compelling for power brokers at Minnesota, according to the source. Kill has also been vocal in stumping for the 46-year-old Claeys, his former defensive coordinator, to get the job permanently, which would also help ensure that a coaching staff that has been together for more than a dozen years would remain intact.

Would be cool to see #Jerrysota live on in spirit, though if the ending to the Michigan–Minnesota game was half as bad as I heard then I withhold any comment on the longterm ramifications of this deal.

Though, who would Minnesota get that's better at this point? 

 PROGRAMMING NOTE ABOUT A LEGENDARY BUCKEYE. I used to do "cool" things on Friday night, but I'm a retired family man now. If you're a retired family man like me then you might be interested in this:

Paul Brown: A Football Life premiers tonight at 9:00 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

From, here's what the documentary will cover:

  • His time leading the Browns to AAFC championships and later to NFL championships.
  • Power struggle with Browns owner Art Modell.
  • His founding of the Cincinnati Bengals.
  • His lasting impact on the game, the people who coached it, and how the game is operated today.

It will feature input from everyone like Nick Saban to Condoleezza Rice to Bill Belichick to Jerry Springer. It shouldn't disappoint: 

If you are doing the "cool" and "hip" things tonight — like drinking "IPA" beer in a crowded/loud bar with your friends — then perhaps set your DVR. There's no good programming available on Saturday mornings for somebody nursing a hangover from the couch.

 JOIN THE 11W MOVEMBER TEAM. Speaking of cool and hip things, here's a chance to help fight "prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity."

Join the 11W Movember team, or donate to help research cancer into nonexistence.

It's easy, and even if you don't feel like growing facial hair then you can still donate to the cause.

 THOSE WMDs. The best and worst of WCW Nitro 9/30/96... The world's greatest cat painting sells for $826,000 at auction... 2015 National Geographic photo contest, Part II... The life and times of Buddy Guy... Six photographers asked to shoot portraits of one man, with a twist... Colombian farmer finds $600,000,000 of Pablo Escobar's buried money.

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