Skull Session: Iowa Presents Different Challenge, Drew Tate Talks Trash, and Jim Harbaugh Wants 16-Team Playoff

By D.J. Byrnes on November 2, 2017 at 4:59 am
Skull Session

How is it the first baseball game I watch in entirety all year is the one in which my childhood team loses a championship after going down 5-0 in the first two innings?

Oh well. The Dodgers will eventually win one before I die. That's all I ask. And tilt of the cap to Houston, a premiere American city. If you've never visited, you should fix that before shuffling off our mortal coil.

(To the Shakespeare nerds ganking me to say I didn't use that phrase right, please know there are six pounds of C-4 duct taped to my chest and enough room in Hell for both of us.)

Also caught a stray bullet from JTBIV last night:

At least it's Thursday. But remember to avoid the office alcoholic's overtures to Applebees happy hour. You don't have the heart for that rodeo.


Word of the Day: Petrichor.

 IOWA, THEN. Woke up today in a Lowe's parking lot only wearing socks. That's what happens when your favorite college football team erases an 18-point deficit against the obnoxious No. 2 team in the country. 

My sources report a trip to Iowa's on the docket this week. That's wild.

You can set your watch by Iowa's play. Even their fans wouldn't call their offense cutting edge. And it's always predicated on a viable run threat—at least when the the surly football gods aren't injuring their running backs.

Iowa's 2017 running back is Akrum Wadley, a former two-star(!) recruit from New Jersey. He's not a draft darling like Saquon Barkley. He's still a respectable threat.

From Tom Orr of

While Penn State has drawn a lot of praise for its innovative and wide-open scheme under coordinator Joe Moorhead, Iowa’s attack gets described as “tough” a lot more often than “innovative.” It will be a big change of pace for a defense full of players who will mostly be seeing the Hawkeyes for the first time.


Iowa’s big slugger this year is senior RB Akrum Wadley. He is averaging just 4.0 yards per carry, but while he doesn’t have the big-play explosiveness of Barkley, OSU defensive coordinator Greg Schiano says he does have some top-level skills.

“Elite change of direction. Elite. Very good pass receiver,” said Schiano. “They’re a zone scheme, so he’s hunting and pecking for daylight, stretching the defense. And then when he sees it, he sticks a foot in the ground. It’s very hard to react as fast as he can react. He has a rare change of direction, so it’s a challenge.”

Here is what Akrum looked like against Iowa State:

No disrespect, but it's not like any running back in the country is going to bully Ohio State's defensive line over four quarters. And that's partly because nobody has an offensive line capable of weathering that storm for four quarters.

And if Iowa can't run the ball, it's not like it's going to switch to the Air Raid when trailing by 24 at half.

But remember: It would cost you more money to buyout Kirk Ferentz than Urban Meyer this offseason. 

 IT COULD HAPPEN THO. When I hear "Trip to Kinnick" I think three things:

  1. A prayer of eternal prosperity for Vodka Sam.
  2. Anthony Gonzalez catch and run in 2006
  3. Sitting stupefied in my mother's kitchen as Drew Tate beat El Chaleco within an inch of his life in 2004. Tate obviously enjoys the memory more than me:

I too was wondering what bars I was going to after the game, and I was only 17. If you don't remember that game, I don't fault your deteriorating brain:

So yeah. I am 99.999% sure the Bucks make light work of the 'Eyes. But that .001% can be squirrelly. (Truth be told, if Ohio State is destined to lose in November; I'd choose Iowa. It could recover from that.)

 MAYBE MICHIGAN WOULD MAKE IT THEN. The biggest playoff win in Michigan history is Clemson's 31-0 dusting of Ohio State in the bad 2016 Fiesta Bowl.

So it makes sense its $7 million-a-year coach pines for the playoff field to expand to 16.


“I would change it to 16 teams,” Harbaugh told “Jamie and Stoney.” “FCS, they’ve got a great system. It’s been in place for many years. My dad won the national championship at Western Kentucky when they were I-AA in 2002. I think that’s the best system.

“If you look at every other sport, they have a playoff at every level and every other college sport does as well. It’s not a four-team. Basketball goes from 64 to the Final Four. I think that’s the way it should be done to have a national champion like they do in gymnastics, like they do in basketball, men’s and women’s, lacrosse, every other sport you can think of. And you already have the format with the FCS.”

Harbaugh, however, is right. The Artist Formerly Known as D1-AA had a 16-team playoff when I attended Montana a decade ago. (It now plays 24-team tournaments.)

Some guy named Don Brown brought UMASS to Washington-Grrrrrrrizzly Stadium and ran over the beloved local team in a Friday night Final Four matchup. 

It was miserably cold. A strange woman of questionable sobriety threw up on my boots in the third quarter. My team lost. And yet, it was one of the most memorable sporting experiences of my life.

16 teams will eventually happen in D1-A. There's too much money at stake. It won't happen next year. It may not happen for a decade. But it will happen. And people that think they would be against it would complain for approximately one offseason before watching the shit out of it.

We live in a country where a cabal of degenerates wager on midweek #MACtion.

Even if they have to cut out the regular season cupcakes—apologies to Tulane—playoff expansion will be the only thing that can satiate networks handing out record cash for the rights to broadcast these games.

 TOUCHÉ, CAPTAIN. Chris Worley moved to the middle this year, and after spraining a foot against Army, it looked like Tuf Borland might supplant him a la Jerome Baker replacing Dante Booker in 2017. 

But Worley started against Penn State and played his best game of the year. Those plays didn't just come at MLB, either.


The Buckeyes made some in-game personnel changes to the kickoff coverage team (more on that below). One of those changes was putting linebacker Malik Harrison, a special teams standout last year, back on the kick team. But Harrison was also playing middle linebacker in the nickel package in place of Worley last week.

Ohio State started that final defensive drive in nickel. Harrison, thrown out of sorts a bit because of his new kickoff duties, didn’t realize they were starting in nickel and forgot to run on the field. Worley, always eager to be on the field, counted the numbers, saw 10 defenders and ran out to play where Harrison should have been. Heady move by a senior captain.

I understand Meyer's rotational philosophy entirely. It keeps your best players fresh. But at the end of the day, it still depends on logistics of a company comprised of 18-22 year-olds.

I can't even shuffle three friends to the next bar in a timely manner.

 FSU ON LIFE SUPPORT. Florida State lost its starting quarterback against Alabama and their season went into a ravine. (Makes you appreciate the 2014 run that much more, tbh).

They're so desperate they're rescheduling a banger with Louisiana-Monroe to preserve a bowl streak.


FSU has made it to the postseason every year since 1976, but that streak is in serious jeopardy with the Seminoles off to a miserable 2-5 start. And because the Seminoles’ Week 2 game against Louisiana-Monroe was canceled because of Hurricane Irma, the team has only four games (Syracuse, Clemson, Delaware State and Florida) left on the schedule.

That means the Seminoles would have to win out to reach the six-win mark that clinches bowl eligibility.

However, FSU AD Stan Wilcox said Wednesday that the game against UL-Monroe could find its way back onto the schedule. It’s not set in stone, but, per the Orlando Sentinel, an announcement — whether or not the game will be played — is in the works for next week.


I'm glad I don't cheer for Florida State. Meanwhile, undefeated Miami lost a blue-chip quarterback commit to Rutgers (no typo):

When this season is over, we're going to look back on undefeated Miami like we do that one week the championship ran through the Egg Bowl. Florida State and Florida being on tilt should bode well for local recruiting.

 FAYETTEVILLE PD > OKLAHOMA BOYS. Barry Switzer has achieved the true American dream: Retired with money and the ability to say whatever you want during interviews.

Imagine El Chaleco talking like this about Pryor (which has never happened nor will ever happen). The FBI wouldn't like that.

 BISHOP KLATT AT THE PODIUM. Many props to Joel Klatt, FOX's knowledgeable analyst that can articulate why the team that primarily plays on the network that signs his paychecks is underrated and also why Alabama sucks, actually.

As the warrior-poet Michael Thomas once said: #Shhhhhhhhh.

 THOSE WMDs. Osama bin Laden's computer files... The world's most famous Frozen fan denies his Frozen Tumblr is secretly a fetish blog... Losing $30,000 in Bitcoin... Middletown coach resigns, citing death threats... Japanese company gives non-smokers 6 extra days off.

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