Skull Session: Johnson's Tough Love, Basketbucks Bench Steps Up, and Kelly Speaks Out

By D.J. Byrnes on February 12, 2018 at 4:59 am
Chris Holtmann signals to the February 12th 2018 Skull Session.

We begin today with every Buckeye basket from the 82-64 win over Iowa:


Word of the Day: Ailurophile.

 SECOND TIME'S THE CHARM. Ohio State came up short in the initial pursuit of then-five-star defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson, who chose Auburn. Apparently it was  an error in judgment he realized within 48 hours of arriving in Alabama.

Most coaches would jump at an opportunity to re-recruit a talent like Jackson. But Larry Johnson Sr. is not most coaches. Once he heard Jackson was back on the market, he laid down some tough love.

From Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch:

“He went for the wrong reasons. He knew that,” Johnson said. “The second day he was there he told his (high school) coach to call me, to tell me he had made a mistake.”


“I told him, ‘You hurt me,’ ” Johnson said. ” ‘I put a lot of energy and time into you because I knew this was the best situation for you. And that day you walked to the platform, I was waiting to hear Buckeyes and you said Auburn, I was done.’ ”

Then Johnson reconsidered.

“I told him, ‘If we come down this road again, you’re going to have to show me it’s real. We’re not going to do any babysitting, calling you. We’ve done that already. ... The minute you take a trip somewhere else, I’m pulling the scholarship offer. We’re done.’ ”

You know Jackson is a talent because most mortals don't recover after shunning an oracle like Johnson, who should hit the motivational speech circuit as soon as he retires from coaching. (He may make more than he did as a defensive line coach.)

In the article, Jackson revealed a fracture in his right foot which OSU doctors found during an initial physical. He expects to be back for the second half of spring drills.

 BENCH STEPS OUT. The Buckeye bench scored 22 points against Iowa. After a slow start to Big Ten play, the outbreak continued a recent scoring trend. Is this the new normal?


That scoring output -- by this group's standards an explosion -- comes on the heels of them contributing 18 points in a win at No. 3 Purdue on Wednesday night. This is the first time Ohio State has had back-to-back double-digit scoring efforts from its reserves in nearly a month.

Is that group, which has done a good job defensively and on the glass this year, starting to turn a corner from a scoring standpoint?

"We're just there to fulfill a role," Potter said. "There are no egos on this team. We know the guys who are starting, Dre (Andre Wesson) has been stepping up big time since Kam (Williams) went out. Us guys on the bench, we're just there to keep things going and keep the energy up, whether that's scoring, playing defense, rebounding -- we're just there to help this team win."

I don't expect the bench to score 22 every game. It won't play like it did against Iowa and Purdue for the rest of the year. But if it does, it elevates Ohio State to a Final 4 team.

And yes, I can't believe that's a sentence I just typed either. Thank you, Chris Holtmann.

 KELLY SPEAKS. Emily Kelly, the wife of former NFL and Ohio State safety Rob Kelly, wrote a devastating New York Times column about the effect her husband's football career had on his mind.

Kelly's hometown paper, The Newark Advocate, followed up with the couple in a column that's not any easier to read. It also includes Kelly's words.


"We all know now that it’s not the concussions, it’s not always the big hits. It’s just the game in general is too violent," Rob Kelly said. "There’s no more protection that you can add that’s going to protect the players."

Kelly says there's zero chance his son will play football because there's no helmet that can prevent the injuries he suffered.

Kelly's wife, meanwhile, doesn't understand why Ohio State hasn't reached out.

Since the column was published Feb. 2, Rob Kelly said his family has heard from friends, former teammates and people from Newark Catholic who have offered support. But he said he has not heard from Ohio State or the National Football League.

"It’s a little upsetting,” Emily Kelly said about Ohio State specifically. "You’d think they would reach out. You’d think they would have (said) ‘What can we do? How can we help?"

Nobody has reached out because if they did, the university would then be liable to providing aid to all former players. That wouldn't come cheap, even for a university dripped in cash like Ohio State.

Still, it's a startling juxtaposition between that the family the university bills itself as. I understand why nobody has reached out; it still doesn't make it less shitty to read about.

 MEANWHILE. Looks like Michigan's moribund offense could get a blood transfusion from a former head coach that orchestrated an entire 17 points against Texas A&M.

From Sports Illustrated:

Jim McElwain has emerged as a strong candidate to join Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan working with receivers, multiple sources told SI. It’s the position Dan Enos held briefly before taking a job at Alabama. One of the candidates for the job, Toledo offensive coordinator Brian Wright pulled out of consideration, according to a source.

McElwain is going to be so disappointed when he learns no sharks live in Lake Michigan.

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