Skull Session: Basketbucks Hit the Road, Potential NFL Interest in Billy Davis, and Sam Hubbard Prepares

By D.J. Byrnes on January 17, 2018 at 4:59 am
Chris Holtmann winces at the January 17th 2017 Skull Session

All I wanted yesterday was validation for cooking ribs in under an hour via the immaculate Instant Pot. Instead, barbecue luddites pit roasted me as if I tried to serve microwaved Hungryman ribs at a funeral.

It's a cold world, kids, never forget that. Don't knock ribs from the pot until you try 'em, though. 


Word of the Day: Intractable.

 HERE COMES THE BOOM. The Associated Press ranks Ohio State as the No. 22 basketball team in the country, which feels like a Top 5 ranking after a half decade of darkness.

After staking themselves to a 6-0 Big Ten record, the Buckeyes enter a tough stretch of road games starting tonight in Rosemont (not to be conflated with Chicago) against Northwestern at 9 p.m. ET on BTN. 


This span begins Wednesday night at Northwestern. The Wildcats cannot be happy with the first half of the year, sitting on an 11-8 record, but last season turned a 1-2 start in the Big Ten into a 24-12 record that included the team's first NCAA Tournament appearance.


"Northwestern I think is as hard to play as anybody in the country because of how well they execute," he said. "Chris (Collins) does a phenomenal job of putting the defenses in difficult positions. They've obviously got really good players and talented kids and they make you be really, really highly detailed and play at an optimal level. I'm sure that will be the case tomorrow night."

The Scarlet and Gray will return to Columbus following the game in Rosemont, Illinois and have just two days to prepare for Minnesota at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

I'm still can't conceive Chris Collins' nervous system can cope with coaching. Dude always looks on the verge of a mental breakdown (not that I'd know the signs of that).

2-0 or 0-2, nothing would be surprising. All I know is nobody will want to play the Bucks in the Tournament if they keep running wild over Vegas spreads. ( currently lists Ohio State as 3½-point favorites tonight.)

For more on Ohio State at Northwestern, our James Grega has you covered.

 PAT SHURMUR BACK. Imagine watching your house burn down while firefighters stood idly on the sidewalk and fanned themselves with clipboards.

That's how it felt watching Pat Shurmur's staff coach the Cleveland Browns. He never blinked in two years. It was one of the most haunting things I've ever seen.

But Shurmur, now offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, reportedly has a deal in place to replace Bob McAdoo's slicked hair as head coach of the New York Giants.

Shurmur and Ohio State linebackers coach Billy Davis have a history together. Perhaps a reunion is in the cards?


It also was subtly suggested that Spagnuolo's defensive schemes might be too complicated, though that same description was considered a good thing when he rejoined the organization in 2015. And there is no arguing the results from earlier in his Giants career.

Spagnuolo coached a unit of Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Corey Webster and others who led the Giants to a Super Bowl XLII victory against the then-undefeated Patriots.

If Shurmur goes in a different direction, Ohio State linebackers coach Bill Davis, Eagles linebackers coach Ken Flajole, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Chiefs linebackers coach Gary Gibbs could all make sense for the position.

The Billy Davis Experience seems like the perfect defensive coordinator for Shurmur. I mean that exactly how it sounds, too.

And yeah, it's going to be hilarious next year when Schiano and Billy Davis are playing chess on the east coast. I got $5 on Schiano.

 HUBBARD GRINDING. Sam Hubbard is looking to become the latest Cincinnatian to make the NFL. After dismantling USC's defensive line and evading assault charges, Hubbard struck west to the EXOS Training Center in Carlsbad, Ca.

Hubbard has his eyes set on a first-round draft selection (which will inevitably be the Patriots or Saints).


"I'm working my butt off to prove my stock any way I can by having a good performance at Pro Day and the Combine," Hubbard said. "Obviously the goal is to get into that first round."

The defensive lineman is now 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, nearly 40 pounds [heavier] than when he arrived at Ohio State from Moeller. His Buckeye career began as an outside linebacker/tight end. Once his pass-rushing skill was noticed at linebacker, he was invited to the defensive line room and encouraged to eat full meals as a redshirt freshman.

That's a long way from his stint with Moeller on back-to-back state championship teams in 2012 and 2013. Back then, Hubbard was an exceedingly tall safety tormenting receivers in the secondary. He credits his defensive backfield skills for giving him the foot-speed to shrug off offensive linemen and chase down quarterbacks.

At 6-6, 265, Hubbard can rest comfortably knowing that if his NFL career flounders, he can always fall back on bouncing at bars and night clubs around Columbus for the rest of his life. 

Until then, he's hitting the links in Nikes like a boss:


Almost hit the hot air balloon #fore

A post shared by Sam Hubbard (@sam_hubbard_) on


 NAME TO WATCH. Quarterback development in the SEC is such a fine-tuned machine a former walk-on at Wagner is drawing interest as a graduate transfer.

Meet Alex Thomson, who, jokes aside, could be a beast.

From Pete Thamel of

“He can play at any level,” Simms said. “There’s no question. If things fall right [with his college situation], I definitely think he’s a pro prospect. I don’t even have to hesitate to say that.”

Thomson is a pro-style quarterback with an arm that Simms calls “powerful.” He broke out in 2016 with 16 touchdowns, 2,436 yards and just five interceptions. He only played in the first two games of this season because of a shoulder injury. His former offensive coordinator at Wagner, Rich Scangarello, is the current quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers. He’s just as resolute in his view of Thomson’s talent and future.

“I think he’s an NFL quarterback,” Scangarello said. “I have no doubt about it. He’s athletic, smart and tough, and he’s just scratching the surface as a player. He’s as good as the back-up quarterbacks in the NFL right now. I really believe that. He’s legit.”

Consider me an Thomson fan... unless he transfers to the SEC or Michigan (or a team that eventually beats Ohio State). In which case all bets are off.


Meteor!? Riiiiiiiiiiiight. Lest we forget that time an Ohio State installation received a highly suspicious signal from space.


On Aug. 15, 1977, Big Ear, a large Delaware County installation that detected the natural radio waves coming from space, recorded an extremely strong signal that, for several reasons, suggested that it could have been produced by an intelligent life form.

A computer expressed the signal in alphanumeric code (6EQUJ5). Ehman, a volunteer who reviewed printouts of what the computer recorded, spotted the powerful signal, circled it and wrote “Wow!” in the margin.

John Kraus, the Ohio State professor who led the construction of Big Ear, dubbed it the “Wow! signal” and wrote about it in scientific publications.

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those that believe in aliens and those that are wrong.

Don't ask me how I know this, but it's true.

 THOSE WMDs. Letter to the Golden State Killer... The sales crisis afflicting fiction... Larry Nassar's downfall started with an email to IndyStar... In booming economies, food banks are busier than ever... Humans, not rats, may have been responsible for spreading black death.

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