Skull Session: Big Ten and SEC Finances Making Power 2, Ryan Day's To-Do List, and Darron Lee Talks Assault

By D.J. Byrnes on February 8, 2017 at 4:59 am
K.J. Hill busts open the February 8th 2017 Skull Session

We begin today not with a word, but with a video of American might. Here's the USS Gerald Ford launching trucks to test its jet catapult:

Abe "Touchdown" Lincoln never saw anything like that, but it's no wonder he knew the combined armies of our enemies couldn't earn a sip of the Ohio River (left unmentioned: that would be the biggest troll prize in military history).

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The Ohio State men's basketball team hosts Rutgers in a clash of Big Ten powers at 7 p.m. ET on BTN.

 WHAT'S A RUTGERS WORTH? Follow me, if you will, back to the summer of 2004. It was a simpler time—even before the NCAA, an organization with no subpoena powers, could get away with muscling a blue blood into committing harakiri over ineligible players, tattoos, and a couple of lies.

It was before No. 5 Michigan lost to an FCS school at home. It was before BTN was even a thing, back when ESPN thought it would forever have a monopoly on college football broadcasting and tried to lowball Jim Delany like the midwest don didn't understand the street price for a brick.

It led to the most iconic quote ever delivered by a Big Ten official.


An amiable session in which the Big Ten and ESPN cleaned up "housekeeping matters" — schedules and announcers — took a nasty turn at the one-hour mark. That's when talk turned to a contract extension, a negotiating session that went nowhere. Fast.

"The shortest one I ever had," Delany told the Tribune. "He lowballed us and said: 'Take it or leave it. If you don't take our offer, you are rolling the dice.' I said: 'Consider them rolled.'"

You're damn right considered them rolled. Now fast forward to January 2017. The Big Ten, along with the SEC, are breaking away from the ACC, Pac-12, and the "Big" 12.

As mentioned in the Feb. 3rd Skull Session, the SEC just cashed out $40.4 million ($565 million in total, excluding bowl revenue) to its 14 institutions.

The Big 10 is expected to surpass that. 


The Big Ten is likely to be richer than the SEC in the near future thanks to the success of the Big Ten Network and massive TV deals from ESPN and FOX. Current projections have the Big Ten deal being worth $45 million per year per school, but the better-than-impressive numbers could send the conference distribution-only revenues north of $50 million per school. The University of Illinois was making just $50.7 million per year in total revenue a decade ago. Now it could get more than that just from the Big Ten, not counting its own marketing deals, ticket sales, merchandise sales, etc.

This is all great news for teams from the SEC and Big Ten, which, as non-profits that are incentivized both economically and legally to pretend they are broke, are spending like crazy. The University of Iowa, for instance, is funding a $90 million stadium renovation entirely with television revenue.

This is why it's hilarious when people counter any reform proposal with, "It would create a gap of haves-and-have-nots." That system already exists.

And how much is Iowa enjoying life right now? Nobody rewards me when I make terrible financial decisions like signing Kirk Ferentz to an extension.

Props to Jim Delany for riding the television spending tidal wave like a Los Angeles weed dealer with a surfing hobby. The B1G is in prime position to loot the jewels from the Big 12's vault whenever that ponzi scheme collapses.

 IN DAY WE TRUST. Kevin Wilson will be the most scrutinized assistant in Columbus next year. The good news for him is fans will praise him if it goes smooth and blame Ryan Day if it goes bad because so much of that will hinge on the success of J.T. Barrett.

Some folks say Barrett regressed. Others say he was actually better in 2016, just compromised by a lesser supporting cast. Such is the "quarterback position," which is what people call it when they want to sound fancy.

Here's his to-do list from Tony Gerdeman of

  1. Figure out what's broken on J.T. Barrett
  2. Build Barrett back up
  3. Figure out best way to split reps between Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow
  4. Keep Tate Martell involved
  5. "Keep recruiting" Emory Jones

Barrett will look better in 2017 unless his offensive line falls apart and no receiver develops. I don't see that happening after Urban Meyer suffered a 31-0 defeat in a semifinal.

The Haskins-Burrow battle will be intriguing, and may ultimately become how he's judged. Thankfully, QBgeddon V.20 is a year away.

The other big moment for him will be retaining five-star Emory Jones, who will be the truth. (For the haters in the back: Remember Tim Beck played a key role in landing the Georgian.)

 NEVER LEAVE YOUR HOUSE. Monday's Skull Session mentioned Darron Lee tweeting about an assault he suffered at "an Ohio bar."

Lee, sporting a bruise on his face apparently suffered during the attack, took to Periscope to clear the air about what happened... kind of.


"Midway from the exit of the bar, I get hit and tackled simultaneously," Lee said in the broadcast. "Have no idea who it was. I wasn't in an argument with anybody. I hadn't said a word to anybody. Just leaving the bar to go home, and I get punched and tackled. 

"I have no idea by whom. To this very moment I have no idea by whom. Don't care." 

Lee, who wasn't seriously injured, said he didn't fight back, and was taken completely by surprise. As he was getting assaulted, he continually said "I didn't hit you, I didn't hit you," but the assailant didn't stop. 

This is why I never leave my house. Even if I were popular or rich enough to be targeted in a random attack, I would not leave my house. 

I would also care if some bro sucker-punched me while waiting for an Uber. I press charges, and bankrupting an insurance company in exchange for a broken jaw is how Marionaires dream of hitting the lottery.

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