Skull Session: Urban Meyer Stressed About Replacing Billy Price, Big Ten Tournament Ratings Up, and Alex Grinch's Fit at Ohio State

By D.J. Byrnes on March 7, 2018 at 4:59 am
Chase Young flexes on the March 7 2018 Skull Session

Elated to hear Demario McCall, the greatest Ohio State football player to ever lace 'em up, will hopefully start the season as kickoff and punt returner. After returning 12 kicks for touchdowns in the first three games, that should mean more opportunity elsewhere on the field.

If that GOAT wants it, that is.


Word of the Day: Abjure.

 CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. Two years ago when Ohio State lacked a center, it simply moved Pat Elflein to center. He won the Rimington. Last year when Ohio State lacked a center, it moved Billy Price to center. He too won the Rimington.

The Buckeyes won't have that luxury this year. Though Price tabbed the job as Brady Taylor's to lose, the lack of Price's heir apparent stresses Meyer.

From Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch:

“I think I’m more stressed about center,” said the OSU coach headed into his seventh season. “I think when you have quality players going at it, there’s no stress at all.


The Buckeyes are trying to replace Rimington Trophy winner Billy Price, who is headed to the NFL. Brady Taylor gained the first nod Tuesday, but Matt Burrell, freshman Matthew Jones and Josh Myers are going to get some chances.

Meyer threw another name in the pot, Joshua Alabi, whom he said he spoke with during practice about possibly taking a shot.

Tossing Alabi into the mix shows that nobody has seized the role through winter workouts, which doesn't bode well for Taylor's prospects. The idea of starting a true freshman at center probably doesn't appeal to Meyer, so this may actually be a battle between Myers and Burrell. 

The good news for Meyer is he has spring drills, summer, fall camp, and two warm-up games against Oregon State and Rutgers to start the season. If nobody has emerged by then, it may be time to worry.

 DELANY WAS RIGHT. Well, well, well. After taking a shellacking from media after moving the Big Ten Tournament to Madison Square Garden, the stunt actually boosted ratings.


The average audience for the sessions, two on Thursday and two on Friday,  bested competing programming on every other national cable sports network** in Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.


Additionally, the 2018 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament not only produced BTN’s largest aggregate tournament viewership ever, up 99% over the 2017 tournament and 142% over the 2016 tournament, but also the top basketball viewing audience over a three-day period in network history.

Delany has said the condensed conference schedule was a health risk to players and will not be repeated. And the ratings were aided by being the only conference tournament of note on television that weekend.

Still not a bad feather in the cap for the next time the conference sits down at the negotiation table.

 BIG GRINCHIN'. Urban Meyer said yesterday Jordan Fuller, who you might not know as the nephew of 1990s comedy icon Sinbad, has evolved into a "fantastic player," which is terrible news for opposing offenses.

The safety position opposite of Fuller is wide open. Enter new safeties coach Alex Grinch, who will be looking for a player that most fits his style.


"It’s a style of play. It’s not a call,” Grinch said. “It’s a brand of football back at my last place that we tried to attach to ourselves. It was playing an aggressive style. We used the term ‘downhill.’ Try to get as many guys in the backfield, whether it’s a blitz or not, as you possibly can. When you turn on the film there, that style of play is evident. There’s more commonalities than differences. The huddle call comes in differently and all of those things, and the personnel is different, but there’s a brand.”

Now that Grinch is at Ohio State, the personnel will really be different. He will have at his disposal the types of players that he wasn’t able to land at Washington State, and his desire for aggression will be met with knowing nods from the rest of the coaching staff.

Love to hear the local coach wants an aggressive defense. Though, I am still waiting for the first coach to keep it real and say, "We're going to be less aggressive this year. We're going to drop back and play it safe so our mediocre corners don't get roasted every play."

Jokes aside, Grinch appears to be the real deal. I wish I could throw a cheeky $20 on him being the next Ohio State head coach.

 BURROW WILL BE IN DEMAND. Urban Meyer craves competition. It's in his DNA, which is why I suspect the quarterback battle will be "neck and neck" all the way through fall camp. Why tip his hand to opposing coaches?

I, however, am not entertaining any other starter than the Dwayne Train. And that's no offense to Joe Burrow. He is a fine quarterback who will be in demand if he leaves the Buckeyes.


Testing the market

1. Joe Burrow (Ohio State): During the 2017 Ohio State spring game, Burrow stole the show. He threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns on 14-of-22 passing in that game and at times looked like the most effective option under center for the Buckeyes even over JT Barrett. An injury knocked him out of the backup job for the regular season, and Dwayne Haskins took full advantage, flashing exciting ability every time he found the field. If Haskins takes the lead for the starting job in the spring as many expect, Burrows will quickly become the most coveted graduate transfer at any position. A four-star prospect out of Ohio and the son of a college coach, Burrow would provide a quick fix for someone if he opts to transfer but don't count him out of this starting race just yet.  

You know who could also use a serviceable quarterback eligible to play immediately? A small liberal arts college in Michigan with a woebegone football team. Thankfully that would only happen over Meyer's dead body.

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