Skull Session: OSU and Bama Lead Playoff Contenders List, Cam Johnston Adjusts, and Nick Mangold to Keep Playing

By D.J. Byrnes on February 27, 2017 at 4:59 am
Eric Glover-Williams brought some dirt for the February 27th 2016 Skull Session.

The rumors are true, folks. Sneaky Pete earned the cherished "2 Marionaire Gunz Up" rating.

ICYMI: The women's basketball team went 15-1 in conference play and won the Big Ten on Sunday.

Word of the day: Requiem

 PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS. It's the magical offseason, where every player on the local team is set to make "the leap." It's also the time where every team can at least dream about winning the national title.

Despite what coaches tell their players, we know only a select fraternity of schools have a realistic shot at winning the title.


The data suggests that teams have to recruit at a certain baseline to contend for the national title. The blue chip ratio puts that at about 50% -- that is, at least 50% of a team’s roster has to be blue chip talent.

Every year, only 10-15 teams have a blue chip ratio over 50%. So despite 128 teams, the champion will likely come from a pretty short list every year. Last year only 13 teams met the criteria. The championship was between Alabama (77% ratio) and Clemson (52%), while Ohio State had a 70% ratio as well. Washington, the final playoff team, was 24th in blue chip ratio at 26%.

That 70% ratio helps explain how Urban Meyer reached the playoffs with the youngest team in the nation last year. While Bud Elliott's official blue-chip ratios of 2017 have yet to be published, here's one projection of this year's top six playoff contenders:

1 ALABAMA 1 1 1 34
2 OHIO STATE 2 3 3 26
3 FLORIDA STATE 3 2 7 25.7
10 MICHIGAN 4 13 17 19.8
4 LSU 5 8 2 23.3
20 GEORGIA 6 41 8 13.4

(If you're confused about what these numbers mean, click the link.)

I refuse to buy the hype on LSU and Georgia. LSU still plays in Alabama's division. Georgia may win the East. It ain't getting through Bama.

Florida State would make for a quality playoff opponent. FSU trails only Clemson and Notre Dame on my Out-of-Conference Dumpability Index.

We'll see about Michigan. Jim Harbaugh finished third in his division and lost his bowl game with the best and most experienced Wolverine team since 2006. Pundits can ride that train if they want. I won't be on it.

What's perhaps most interesting is Clemson registers No. 13 on the list. Clemson could be the most slept-on defending national champion in years. That might enrage Clemson fans. Given my experiences with the 2015 OSU team, however, getting slept on is preferable to everyone anointing your team for a repeat in the preseason.

 NO FUN LEAGUE. Cam Johnston's rollout punts were something we all came to know and love the last four years. The NFL, never known for its unorthodoxy, favors the traditional straight on punt.

Johnston worked on the adjustment while preparing for this week's NFL combine. The Australian is aiming for a camp invite at this point.


"It's more about getting a spot as a free agent and getting into camp to compete," Johnston said.

He spent 11 days in San Diego with former Chargers punter and fellow Australian Darren Bennett honing his game. He was mostly a rugby style kicker for Ohio State. Effective as that was, he knows the NFL is looking for a conventional punter.

"I've worked on it a lot," he said. "That's what I did in Australia to get to Ohio State. It's more of a consistency thing, and I'm getting really comfortable with it."

Can't wait for the Cleveland Browns to stun the world by selecting Johnston with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.

 MANGOLD STILL WANTS TO BLOCK. The New York Jets released Ohio State legend Nick Mangold on Saturday.

While suffering an injury-plagued season, the 33-year-old won't hang up his cleats just yet:

The New England Patriots will sign him to a $5 contract and Mangold will probably lead them to a repeat.

 A RISING OHIO TIGHT END. Ashland tight end Adam Shaheen, a zero-star recruit from Big Walnut High School, is one of the draft's quickest risers. 

The 6-7, 277-pounder used to play basketball, and the big fella can move:

Here's a more detailed look at his skill set, from

Adam Shaheen is making quite a bit of noise within draft circles, first of all it's not often you'll see a D2 player declare early for the draft. However most D2 players aren't anywhere close to being as talented as Shaheen. Through the process he'll need to answer the question regarding the level of competition, he faced a lot of guys who will never sniff the NFL, and that needs to be taken into consideration. He was also playing with a lot of guys who will never sniff the NFL.

I've seen a good amount of tape on Shaheen and he's interesting. He's big, he's fast and he's strong. He runs away from defenders as well as running through them on occasions. His technique isn't great, but it hasn't needed to be. He's got a big frame and he knows how to use it, his catching ability reminds me a little of Travis Kelce, his size and mobility a little of Martellus Bennett. Now I'm not saying he's as good as either, I'm just saying that he has the raw traits.

I look forward to Shaheen ending up as a Pro Bowler and further fodder for the "recruiting rankings don't matter!" crowd. With the way the game opened up, Shaheen seems like a prototypical tight end to me.

 MIKE! Mike Gundy's mullet, which he affectionally calls the Arkansas Waterfall. might affect his thinking.


More recently, Freeze was jolted by additional allegations. Ole Miss has been accused of committing acts of academic fraud, arranging for cash payments to be made to a recruit, lying to the NCAA and a lack of institutional control.


“We’ll never know what we could have done in the Sugar Bowl if it was a level playing field,” Gundy said. “That is the truth. I’m not sure we would have won the Sugar Bowl, but we’ll never know.”

Apparently, Gundy added, “we didn’t all play by the same rules. If everybody is playing by the rules and you get your butt kicked, that’s OK. I can live with that. But when it’s an uneven playing field, that’s not fair.”

We'll see what the final judgment is. I don't think $37,310 to players (.007% of Hugh Freeze's salary) acted as a performance-enhancing drug for a team that won that game by 28 points.

Still, I understand the rationalization of cognitive dissonance created by getting your ass kicked. I'll always contend the 2016 Fiesta Bowl would've been different if Tyler Durbin made his first two field goal attempts.

Ohio State may not have won but now we'll never know...

 THOSE WMDs. At an Atlanta federal prison camp, drugs, booze, and Mexican takeout... The RV bandit who stole $1 million one wallet at a time... The bucolic life of a Cambodian grandmother accused of war crimes... The strange saga of a Cairo novelist imprisoned for obscenity... On the fleeting magic of volleyball... La Paz adapts to a world without water.

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