Skull Session: End of Buckeye Invincibility, Send Shazier a Card, and Gibson Resurfaces

By D.J. Byrnes on December 8, 2017 at 4:59 am
Dontre Wilson wants YOU to read the December 8th 2017 Skull Session
Dontre Wilson, Y'All

I dedicate this Skull Session to the Farmer's Daughter in Urbana, Ohio. I'm eating there for lunch, and I'm already salivating.


Word of the Day: Vouchsafe.

 ALL GOOD THINGS. All things considered, the Urban Meyer era has met expectations since 2011. The local team won the first playoff, two Big Ten titles, and produced elite draft picks at every position except quarterback.

It's a golden era of Buckeye football, yet all good things come to an end. And getting stripped naked by a barely bowl-eligible Iowa exposed chinks in the armor that had lingered since that magical 2014 run.

Is it all downhill from here? It's a fair question.

From Are we nearing the end of Ohio State football invincibility?

Hiring assistant coaches is very hard, especially when you have to do it every year, because your coaches are in demand from the NFL or other programs. You’re not going to nail every single one, even if you’re a hall of fame coach. It’s clear that not every single one of those assistant hires has worked out exactly like Ohio State wanted, and for mortal programs, those misses have consequences. The same is true for recruiting, even if you fill the depth chart with plenty of high four-stars.

We’ve now seen two years of data where Ohio State’s offense has bogged down in many of their big games against high quality opponents. Part of that is a product of exceptionally, perhaps unrealistic, expectations, but this program has not shied away from those.

And, and I recognize that maybe this is silly, one of Ohio State’s biggest advantages, their recruiting turf, is eroding. The 2018 recruiting class has just three players from Ohio in it, and it’s entirely possible that’s all they get. Having more than five would be a pretty big surprise. And that includes Tyreke Smith, a high four-star defensive end that Ohio State not only wants, but needs, and Jackson Carman, a five-star offensive tackle who has made it very clear he is interested in other programs. And that’s not including the slew of other four-star kids who are probably good enough to play at Ohio State, but are off to Michigan State, or Kentucky, or Penn State, or other programs.

I have blogged every minute of the Urban Meyer era. I only felt invincible during those three postseason games in 2014. 

As surprising as the Iowa loss was, the slow start wasn't surprising. The inability to cover tight ends (especially in play-action scenarios) wasn't surprising. The mediocre wide receiver play and inexplicable penalties weren't surprising.

Maybe that result, in retrospect, shouldn't have been that surprising.

But even without a change in current trajectory, the Buckeyes have two more season of legit national championship hopes—even if the rumors of Larry Johnson's retirement are having an obvious effect on 2018 defensive end recruiting.

Anything after that is house money.

 BARRETT BACKS BECK. When Ohio State's offense floundered under Tim Beck and Ed Warinner, Buckeye fans pined for the days of Tom Herman, which made it awkward when Herman hired Beck at Texas after two tumultuous seasons in Columbus.

J.T. Barrett still backs Herman and Beck to get the job done after going 6-6 in their first year.

From (via 11W member Buckzilla1):

“I think everything’s going to work out for the University of Texas with my man coach Herman down there,” Barrett said in an interview with the American-Statesman. “Just understand the love and care he has for his players. He was one of the main reasons why I went to Ohio Sate.

“That just speaks volumes on how he approaches the game of football and how he takes care of his guys as well.”


“I feel like you get a bad wrap,” Barrett said. “When you lose games, who’s the first people they blame? The head coach, the quarterback and the offensive coordinator. With that being said, yeah, they gave coach Beck a hard time.”

I don't know. I'm no guru, but Barrett's play, for all his flaws, improved under the tutelage of Ryan Day. So apologies to Texas fans, but Year 2 of the Beck Experience doesn't get any better.

 SEND SHAZIER GET-WELL WISHES. Ryan Shazier suffered a scary spine injury on Monday Night Football, and the updates since then haven't been promising. He underwent spine stabilization surgery yesterday.

Screw football. I'm praying he can lead a normal life. He's one of the most gracious humans in professional football.

If you want to send him your wishes, prayers, etc... Here is the appropriate address: 

A lot to be said about a hand-written letter in this day and age. It goes a long way.

 STOP LYING DABO. The Coaches Poll is such a joke a pyramid scheme sponsors it. A large majority of coaches delegate it to their SIDs. 

This week, "Dabo Swinney" voted Ohio State No. 4 and Alabama No. 5. According to him, he was up in the middle of the night sweating a worthless vote in a worthless poll.


“Literally it was 3:00 in the morning. Man, I got to do this poll. Looking at it, you know, they won 11 games. Alabama won 11 games. They won the Big Ten championship,” said Swinney. “Obviously the committee has a lot of things to look at, a lot of data. They’re going to pick the four best teams however they see it. At that moment, that’s the way I voted. They’re all great teams, man.”

To which Saban followed up, complete with a giant grin: “He was just respecting his alma mater, that’s all.”

“I’m trying to get rid of him, but I can’t shake him,” Swinney retorted.

Just how I imagined the season ending last week: Saban and Swinney, at the CFP press conferences, trading yuck-yucks at the local team's expense.

Even if he didn't vote, he was cool with the ranking, and we all know why that is. He saw the Buckeyes as the more favorable matchup.

Let the 2018 team make of that what they will.

 VOLS GET THEIR MAN. After Tennessee fans cannibalized their first-year athletic director after sabotaging his coaching search with fake outrage of systemic coverup of child rape, the inmates installed Volunteer legend Phillip Fulmer as the new warden of the psych ward.

Fulmer went to work quickly, hoping to ride Georgia's path to success by hiring an underling of Nick Saban.

Tide defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is expected to stay on Alabama's staff through the playoff. His assistants, though, won't be pulling double duty. Pruitt reportedly lured Clay Helton's brother as his offensive coordinator.


Sources tell Volquest that Southern Cal's Tyson Helton is expected to take the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach role for the Vols. Helton, 38, served as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Southern Cal since 2016, tutoring Sam Darold.

Helton spent two seasons at Western Kentucky before going to USC, where the Hilltoppers broke more than two dozen school records. 

Usually I'd say something like, "That's a shame, I was hoping to see Ohio State beat USC at full strength" or some other tripe. Not with a 16,000-day drought on our hands, though. I look forward to my preferred team having that much more of an edge in Arlington.

 EL CHALECO RE-UPS. Jim "El Chaleco" remains untouched by the CIA, FBI, and NSA. His critics accused him of being a bloodthirsty despot during his time in Columbus, yet he has spent his "retirement" in the Ohio hinterlands educating disenfranchised youth.

Yesterday, he re-upped for another year as the President of Youngstown State University.


Youngstown State University's board of trustees and president Jim Tressel have agreed to extend Tressel's contract through June 30, 2019, according to a news release.

Tressel signed a three-year contract when he was named president in 2014, and last year signed an agreement that extended the contract through June 30, 2018. The release stated that last year's agreement was able to be extended for three, one-year terms.

This extension does not include a pay increase, the release noted, and his annual salary will remain at $300,000.

Damn right it doesn't include a pay increase. Tressel would rather die than take one more penny than he needs to subsist. It's why town folk revere him.

 LOOOOOOOOOL. Ohio State suspended redshirt freshman Torrance Gibson and then refused to reinstate him. He left for Cincinnati, where he was unable to qualify after a semester at Cincinnati State. He then transferred to JUCO Mississippi Gulf Coast, where he started a quarterback before getting kicked off. He later returned to the team as a wide receiver.

Yesterday, for whatever reason, Gibson wanted people to know he was in Columbus:

He could be visiting a friend for the holidays. He could also be trying to earn reinstatement at Ohio State.

Meyer has clearly been enamored of his talent—going as far as to publicly criticize the university for the suspension in the first play. And if K.J. Hill enters the 2018 draft, "Zone-6" would certainly lack for athleticism. 

Nothing imminent now, but something worth keeping an eye on over the holiday season.

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