Skull Session: Ohio State Lags in Assistant Pay, Inside J.T. Barrett's Rehab, and Jim Harbaugh Will Try Now

By D.J. Byrnes on December 7, 2017 at 4:59 am
Dwayne Haskins Jr. stretches for the December 7th 2017 Skull Session.

Last time I'll ask: Please follow my new Twitter account. If it says I blocked you, sorry, the glitch god has condemned your soul and there's nothing I can do.


Word of the Day: Skinflint.

 JUST DON'T PAY THE PLAYERS. I'm old enough to remember when people used to break into cars to steal CDs. I'm also old enough to remember when paying an assistant college football coach more than a million dollars a year seemed ludicrous.

But much like the most deviant criminal unwilling to risk freedom for CDs in 2017, the price on an assistant coach has gone up.

USA TODAY released its annual database Wednesday afternoon. Here are the top 11, a number I chose to show how many grifters Michigan employs (Don Brown not included, obviously): 

1 LSU SEC DAVE ARANDA $1,800,000 $150,000
2 CLEMSON ACC BRENT VENABLES $1,700,000 $295,000
3 TEXAS A&M SEC JOHN CHAVIS $1,608,000 $180,000
4 LSU SEC MATT CANADA $1,505,000 $150,000
5 MICHIGAN BIG TEN DON BROWN $1,300,000 $286,000
6 ALABAMA SEC JEREMY PRUITT $1,300,000 $166,667
7 AUBURN SEC KEVIN STEELE $1,200,000 $102,500
8 ALABAMA SEC BRIAN DABOLL $1,200,000 $264,000
9 TENNESSEE SEC BOB SHOOP $1,155,000 $120,000
10 MICHIGAN BIG TEN PEP HAMILTON $1,150,000 $333,333
11 MICHIGAN BIG TEN TIM DREVNO $1,150,000 $166,667

As a Browns fan, I would have paid Brian Daboll $1.2 million to stay 30 feet away from my offense. Leaving Cleveland is turning out to be as lucrative for him as it was for his boss.

Michigan may want to renegotiate its offensive coaching contracts. $2.3 million for that output seems like larceny at the least.

Ohio State does not pay an assistant over a million dollars. Its highest paid assistant (Greg Schiano) comes in at No. 43 on the list.

105 KERRY COOMBS CORNERBACKS $500,000 $191,250
105 BILL DAVIS LINEBACKERS $500,000 $191,250
150 TONY ALFORD RUNNING BACKS $450,000 $172,125
174 GREG STUDRAWA OFFENSIVE LINE $410,000 $156,825
189 RYAN DAY QUARTEBACKS $400,000 $153,000
326 ZACH SMITH WIDE RECEIVERS $300,000 $114,750

The Buckeyes spend a total of $4,485,000 on assistants, which is good for No. 13 in the country.

Here are the 12 teams in front of it:

1 ALABAMA SEC $5,995,000
2 LSU SEC $5,915,000
3 CLEMSON ACC $5,725,000
4 MICHIGAN BIG TEN $5,645,000
5 FLORIDA SEC $4,997,825
6 AUBURN SEC $4,875,000
7 TEXAS A&M SEC $4,818,000
8 FLORIDA STATE ACC $4,691,000
9 WASHINGTON PAC12 $4,678,040
10 TENNESSEE SEC $4,655,400
11 TEXAS BIG12 $4,600,000
12 GEORGIA SEC $4,565,200

And in the three spots after: Oklahoma ($4,310,000); Mississippi ($4,075,000), and Kentucky ($4,025,000).

You can look at this two ways:

  1. Skinflint assistant coaching pay
  2. Shrewd negotiation by Gene Smith.

Seeing as it's not my money, it's hard to argue (overall) with the staff Meyer assembled, even if assistant pay lags at Ohio State (and the Big Ten in general).

As always, we can blame inflation on Nick Saban.

From The New York Times in Feb. 2016:

Gilbert M. Gaul, author of Billion-Dollar Ball: A Journey Through the Big-Money Culture of College Football, links inflation in college football assistant coaches’ salaries to Nick Saban’s arrival as head coach at the University of Alabama in 2007, after coaching the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins. Alabama last month won Saban his fourth national championship as head coach of the Crimson Tide.

“He told Alabama, ‘If you want me to come, you have to invest,’” said Mr. Gaul, who added that Alabama’s football budget grew from $16 million in 2006 to its current $45 million.

“A part of that was that he wanted to pay assistant coaches so they would come to Alabama,” Mr. Gaul said. “He was used to a pro system, with intense, specialized assistant coaches.”

At least Saban won championships. I have no idea what these other SEC schools are splurging on.

 THE QUEST TO PLAY INJURED. When J.T. Barrett exited The Game, it didn't take long for fans to draw comparisons to 2014, when Barrett also left The Game and then stood aside for Cardale Jones as ascended to the throne.

That didn't happen in 2017, though. Barrett went beast mode in rehab in order to face the No. 1 defense in the country.


Barrett spent Sunday night sleeping at the house of Ohio State athletic trainer Adam Stewart. The sleepover gave Stewart the chance to continue cold treatments overnight during the crucial first 24 hours after surgery, when swelling was most likely to start him down the path of a setback.

On Monday, Barrett ditched his crutches and his limp was gone. When he asked his parents for the keys to his white pickup truck, they figured J.T. was healthy enough for them to return to their jobs in Texas. They left the next morning.

By Tuesday, Barrett had his own designated corner of the training room. Stewart set him up with a place to watch film and study the game plan. He could do both while completing small exercises to keep his quad muscles strong. When Barrett needed to join the other quarterbacks in their meeting room, Stewart came along to monitor the ice and other treatments that were keeping the blood from gathering around the joint.

I'll go to the sewage-caked gutter that will serve as my grave wondering if Meyer made the correct decision to start a hobbled Barrett six days removed from knee surgery. Ohio State was a lot better than six points against Wisconsin on that night.

But hey, 59-0 might not have been enough to erase a 31-point loss to Iowa. (Damn you, Kirk Ferentz. Your only job now is to coach until 2020, even if your friends have to Weekend at Bernie's you on the sidelines of the Shoe.)

 HARBAUGH! I figured Michigan paid Jim Harbaugh and his assistants all that money to win all their games. If so, there are Nigerian Prince scams with better return on investment.

But it apparently dawned on Harbaugh that his team isn't good enough to win all its games, and he's promised to try now.

From Kyle Rowland of The Toledo Blade:

“We’re not good enough,” Harbaugh said on the Outback Bowl conference call. “Not good enough to win all our games. We need to be better. We need to be good enough. That starts now. It starts today. It really started last week.”

It was a blunt, accurate state of the program. The 2017 season went in reverse. One year after nearly wedging its way into the College Football Playoff, Michigan finished 8-4 with a woeful 5-4 conference record.

All the particulars have been repeated endlessly. Michigan didn’t beat a team with a winning record, Harbaugh is 1-2 against Michigan State and 0-3 against Ohio State, and the quarterback situation is touch-and-go, which wasn’t expected in Year 3 thanks to Harbaugh’s past quarterback wizardry.

This is why Harbaugh went down to Mississippi trying to mine talent off a 6-6 team that finished second-to-last in the SEC (shoutout to Bert in last!).

It's also hilarious to watch Harbaugh rely on transfer quarterbacks when he's an alleged guru. He must've gone to the same QB school as Guru Hue Jackson.

 LONG LIVE THE EAGLESON BILL. When the Big Ten expanded, it looked for state universities engaged in elite research. Only one school in the Buckeye State fit the tab.

For that, Buckeye fans can thank William Oxley Thompson and the Eagleson BIll—a compromise that started with a grander vision.

From Nicholas Piotrowicz of The Toledo Blade:

State legislator Edwin Lybarger of Coshocton, with Thompson’s support, proposed a measure in 1906 that would have allowed for the full development of OSU while leaving the other colleges, namely Miami University and Ohio University, behind.

Miami and Ohio, both of which are substantially older than Ohio State, were furious at the bill. Walter Havighurst’s The Miami Years 1809-1969 noted that protests broke out in both Oxford and Athens, and supporters of the schools mobilized. In Athens, a meeting at the city courtroom led to a fund for concerned citizens to travel to Columbus to lobby against the bill.

The Athens Messenger called the bill a “plot,” and Havighurst’s book opined that the Lybarger Bill would have "reduced the two century-old colleges to teacher-training schools."

Reducing Miami and Ohio to teacher-training schools would've been hilarious. (That sound you hear is Miami and Ohio grads stampeding to the comments of an Ohio State football blog to argue why their alma maters shouldn't have been blotted from the state's history.)

 LATER, DUCKS. After months of lying about his interest in the job, Willie Taggart pulled the ripcord Wednesday and officially accepted the Florida State job.

His players, who would have to sit out a year before changing scenery, didn't take it well.


Let's all take a moment to say, "Thanks, Urban."

It's nice not having to worry about your team's coach leaving in the dead of night to take over the propaganda arm of a Florida backwater crime family.

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