Skull Session: Bucky a Weird Rival for Bucks, Baker Gives Himself a “D” and a Potential Haskins Start

By D.J. Byrnes on November 30, 2017 at 4:59 am
J.T. Barrett runs for the first down against the November 30th 2017 Skull Session

Congratulations to the Columbus Crew on its season despite falling to Toronto last night in the Eastern Conference Finals. 

MLS should be ashamed with moving the club to Austin, but that would require not being a Ponzi scheme. I'll never watch another game of that garbage league unless we #SaveTheCrew.


Word of the Day: Agita.

 WEIRDCONSIN. After Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer plunged Michigan into nearly two decades of darkness, the Wolverines haven't been able to muster the championships usually becoming of Ohio State's rival.

Enter Wisconsin, who, while not Ohio State's traditional rival, has the championships for which Michigan fans would sell Jim Harbaugh to Tennessee.


Since the start of divisional play in 2011, the Buckeyes and Badgers have the most division titles with six and four, respectively, but we can go back farther than that. 

Since 1993, Ohio State has won or shared 11 Big Ten championships. The only team with more than half as many titles as the Buckeyes? Yep, it’s Wisconsin. 

The Badgers have six conference championships in that span, including shared titles with OSU in ’93, ‘98 and 2010. 

That’s just one reason this has become Ohio State’s weirdest series and most unlikely rival (small ‘r’ variety). 

Sure, they're boring. They have run the same offense for 100 years. 

And though they've spoiled Ohio State's season a couple times (those that remember the 1980s might say it was more than a couple), I just can't find any hate in the charred apricot that is my heart for the Badgers since Bert Bielema moved to the Ozarks to extort a public university for millions of dollars in buyout money.

That will probably change Saturday night when they roll into Indianapolis with intentions of taking the local team's dreams. At least for four hours.

 BAKER BARELY PASSING. Jerome Baker was a breakout star for the Silver Bullets in 2016. Entering 2017, he seemed a surefire first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

After the exit of Luke Fickell to Cincinnati, Baker hasn't played up to his standards this year. And that's just not some dipshit blogger talking shit, either. Those are his words.


“I’m pretty hard on myself. So if I had to grade myself, I’d say a D,” Baker said.

Urban Meyer said on Monday that Baker graded out as a champion. Baker added that linebackers coach Bill Davis, who demands that his players grade themselves after each game, gave him a 90 percent for the game.

That grade surprised Baker.

“I was like, ‘How did I get 90 percent?’ I can remember five plays I messed up on,” Baker said. “I’m very, very hard on myself.

That 90% grade surprised me, too. If Baker is playing at that kind of level according to the coaches, that's good news because there's a 100% chance Wisconsin will throw some beefy Badger adult sons his way Saturday night to see if Baker can get off their blocks.

 DWAYNE TRAIN READY. J.T. Barrett returned to practice earlier this week, but Urban Meyer upped Dwayne Haskins' reps. We all know Barrett will start Saturday as long as he can stand. Yet the staff is preparing for the possibility of Haskins seeing time.

Haskins can make every NFL throw look easy. Playing QB under Meyer, though, means commanding the read-option, which was the only kink in Haskins' game in Ann Arbor.


If Haskins starts, the crux of this game will be whether or not he can get up to speed in the read-option quickly. He ultimately did enough with his arm and his legs to help carry the Buckeyes to victory last weekend, but on four or five occasions, he made the wrong read at the mesh point and either got the RB blown up in the backfield or was brought down for no gain himself. Against a Badger defense that's been even better than Michigan's has, that can't happen if the Buckeyes want to win this game.

We can be reasonably optimistic about what Haskins can do in the passing game, though. He went 6-of-7 last week, showing off what we've all been hearing for a long time: he's a tremendous arm talent. Size-wise, he's just about the mid-point of J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones; he might also be the mid-point of their running and passing talents.

There are very few weaknesses on Wisconsin's defense, and no real silver lining to point to—they're equally ungenerous to the pass and the run, and flat out don't get scored on. The "ain't played nobody Pawwwwl" critique only holds if you're able to square the circle of Ohio State struggling against Michigan and losing to Iowa, both of whom Wisconsin dispatched in convincing fashion.

Seeing Haskins run the read-option takes me back to when Cardale Jones started in 2015 and Meyer refused to change the offense in anyway to suit his talents.

I don't doubt Haskins will one day be on Barrett's read-option level. He's a "cerebral guy" as football analysts love to say to prove they know the word "cerebral."

But if he's not on that level, then it will be coaching negligence to put him in that situation, repeatedly, against what is statistically the best defense in the country.

 FRAUDSTER ABOUT TO LOSE SAFETY NET. One of Barrett's most heroic deeds at Ohio State when he supplanted a federal prisoner from the top of the quarterback record books.

Things haven't gotten better for Speaking of Art Schlichter, either. He'll probably need a new retirement plan if he ever gets out of prison.


Federal prosecutors want to seize the retirement funds of former Ohio State University and NFL quarterback Art Schlichter, who is in prison for cheating investors in a sports-ticket scam.

Schlichter, 57, still owes more than $2.2 million from judgments in federal courts in the southern districts of Indiana in 2001 and in Ohio in 2012.

As of Nov. 8, the amount of the debt that remained in the first case was $75,910 and in the second was $2.19 million, according to a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus last week.

Hope they take every penny from him. Fraudsters are the lowest of the low.

 MEDICAL EMPIRE EXPANDING. Some of you might not know, as I didn't until about 20 minutes ago, that Ohio State is more than an amateur football team. It's actually a university with a thriving medical empire. (Wild, right?)

Turns out, they're not done building yet.

From Kevin Stankiewicz of The Lantern:

Ohio State announced Wednesday it is seeking design requests to build a new hospital tower that would be the largest single facilities project in university history.

The hospital tower would add up to 840 private-room beds to the Wexner Medical Center and allow for the phasing out, or repurposing, of 440 beds in the aging Rhodes and Doan halls, which university officials said is necessary for the center to continue its national prominence.


The two new medical facilities add to the three health-science related projects for which the university is already seeking proposals. In total, Drake said the five projects will cost at least $2 billion. Drake said financing will come through “normal means,” including bonds, philanthropy, and “operating efficiently and effectively.”

My new life goal is to croak in that hospital like a true diehard. Also, Dr. Drake, can I hold $20 until then? You know my estate will be good for it (possibly, maybe).

 MEANWHILE... Imagine being such a clown that you think posting this conversation proves Lane Kiffin is the bad guy:

The Flagship! He's on the flagship! Tennessee continues to churn out geniuses.

Speaking of heavy hitters, I was under the impression Kevin Sumlin would be the next coach at Arizona State. But for some reason, the Sun Devils are hiring, uh, Herm Edwards!?


Arizona State is poised to hire former NFL coach Herm Edwards as its new football coach provided school President Michael Crow agrees with the selection.

Crow is returning from a trip to Asia and will meet with Edwards and ASU Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson over the weekend. If all goes well, an announcement could be made early next week.

It's been less than a week since ASU's decision not to retain Todd Graham, but Edwards' acceleration from an Anderson adviser to presumptive top candidate speaks to the close relationship between the two long-time friends. When Anderson was an agent, before working as an NFL executive, he represented Edwards.

Always cool to see executives hire "long-time friends" that are objectively awful hires. Ray Anderson should be fired if he tries to make this move, because it's going to end up costing Arizona State millions of dollars.

 THOSE WMDs. The unsolved 1960 murder of Irene Garza... Court sentences war criminal, who promptly drinks poison... Tools of espionage going mainstream... Power causes brain damage... Hells Angels associates accused of racketeering, murder, and intimidation... The Pilot Flying J trial is threatening to bring down Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

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