Hello, I'm your substitute Skull Session writer for the day while DJ takes a well-deserved vacation. I'll thank you to show yourselves to your seats. You in the back? Yeah, you. I deserve the same respect you show DJ.
It's a big weekend for sports. We got our Elite Eight after last night. Today gives us the first two berths into the Final Four. It also gives us Ohio State hockey's first game in the NCAA hockey tournament. We have you covered there.
- FORUM: Illinois lands a five-star athlete named *gulp* Isaiah Williams.
- FORUM: Could any Tressel team beat a Meyer Ohio State team?
- ALL CAPS HOKE is everything I dreamed it would be and more.
- TBDBITL is coming to the Indians home opener on April 6.
- Kyle Snyder named a Sullivan Award finalist.
- Chris Worley's confidence boost.
- Tate Martell came to compete.
Word of the Day: deracinate.
PUNTING ON THE QUARTERBACK DERBY? It's fair to assume Dwayne Haskins is the prospective starter in 2018. Haskins is certainly preparing like he is despite a stiff challenge we can expect from Joe Burrow and Tate Martell this spring and summer.
Most fans assume it won't matter in the end, but here's a fun thought experiment: what if it does and what if Oregon State is what decides the starting QB for the season?
From Austin Ward at Land of 10, who answered this hypothetical:
As much as Urban Meyer enjoys heated competition, this isn’t a normal situation at Ohio State this spring. By the time the Buckeyes wrap up practice next month, they’re going to need to have a plan and a pecking order in place at the most important position on the field. No matter what, I don’t think the Buckeyes will be in position to use an actual game as a tiebreaker this year.
There obviously wouldn’t be a rush if Joe Burrow didn’t have the ability to graduate and be immediately eligible elsewhere as a transfer. And Meyer’s desire to do right by a guy who has done everything the program has asked of him is both admirable and a complication. The Buckeyes are going to need to determine fairly quickly whether they believe Burrow could be their guy this season or if they’re sticking with Dwayne Haskins after he proved himself last season, and that adds urgency to these workouts that might generally have less pressure than those in training camp in August. The good news for Ohio State is that Meyer has been through all of this plenty of times before, and he should be able to get a good enough feel for his depth chart in the coming weeks to set the right course for the season.
In other words, it's unlikely we won't know the starting quarterback by the season-opener. It's further unlikely there will be this "shades of 1999" QB-swapping against the likes of Oregon State, Rutgers, and TCU in the first three weeks of the season.
LIFE AFTER A BITTERSWEET TRANSFER. Transfers have become a bit more common since Urban Meyer took over the program. As such, there aren't many "what ifs?" among Ohio State transfers since 2012. New faces come to the program and the wins still keep mounting.
Trevon Grimes might be one of those "what ifs?" He was a five-star class of 2017 signee for Ohio State who left the program after a month to be with his ailing mother, ultimately transferring to the University of Florida. He spoke with the media for the first time since that happened and he seems to be content with the decision.
“I just had some family issues that I had to deal with from back home with my mom,” Grimes said. “I wanted to get somewhere closer to home. At the end of the day, I knew that it had to be in Florida.
“I looked at Miami, I looked at Florida, I looked at Florida State, but I felt that Florida would give me the best opportunity. With the new coaching staff coming in, I would start fresh just like all the other players. I’m excited to be here.”
He has applied for a hardship waiver and hopes the NCAA will not force him to sit out the 2018 season. Grimes said the process is ongoing and he’s trying not to think about it while he waits.
We wish Grimes all the best in Gainesville. May his career be productive and, for convenience, may it not involve Florida playing Ohio State. The #takes from that hypothetical clash are way bigger than Grimes but he'd probably get sucked into that vortex.
CHRIS MACK TO LOUISVILLE? Here's a hot take: I'm not convinced Louisville is an attractive job right now notwithstanding its hoops pedigree. I'd probably stay away from it for several years.
Pay-for-play scandals are one thing, and a decidedly anachronistic scandal at that. However, Louisville's problems run a bit deeper since the real accusation underneath the hood is that the University of Louisville was laundering money and committing wire fraud through a public institution of higher education.
Oh, and there's the earlier sex scandal where officials for the hoops program supposedly hired madams to offer dances and sexual favors to recruits on their visits.
I wouldn't find Louisville an attractive job, but I'm not Chris Mack. The Xavier coach is talking with Louisville and the talks appear to be going well.
Good source tells me that Chris Mack to Louisville is close to complete....All over but the shouting were the exact words— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) March 23, 2018
Good mountain description for what I think is a solid get for UL
This much only affects Ohio State at the margins. Ohio is a deceptively loaded state for college hoops and Mack's departure should help Ohio State's position in its own territory for some eyeballs and recruits.
However, if Mack leaves Xavier for Louisville, you might hear more rumblings about Thad Matta making a triumphant return to Cincinnati.
Matta, who coached at Xavier from 2001 to 2004 and even led the Musketeers to the Elite Eight in 2004, seems to be communicating he wants to return to coaching. Interviewing with and turning down an offer from Georgia says as much.
Maybe Matta turned down Georgia because he's waiting for the right opening. Xavier might be that opening.
COMEBACK? IT'S BEEN HERE FOR YEARS. DJ is on vacation so it falls on me to talk up the City of Kings.
It's easy to cast Marion in with other cities in Ohio for having, to be diplomatic, 20th-century economic endowments for a 21st-century reality. Industry was its calling card but the American economy moved from heavy industry to light industry and service sectors. This created new economic centers, largely in the South and West, and created the "Rust Belt" as we know it now.
It's easy to dismiss these cities in the Rust Belt and paint them all in broad strokes as equally lifeless. But don't tell that to Marion. Marion didn't hear no bell.
Once a city on the brink, some say Marion is on the brink of a comeback, with new restaurants under construction downtown and new investment in business in the city, which made headlines in recent years for crime, heroin tragedies, and bad economic news.
Chris Rennick and Rob Turner have big plans for a restaurant in the heart of downtown.
"We do shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, gumbos," said Rennick. He's from Philadelphia; Turner is from Memphis. They call their style of food a Philly-Memphis mash-up. Each has lived in Marion for more than ten years and say they are excited to open a restaurant here.
"Marion's coming up," said Rennick. "It's on the up-and-up. Marion's a great town."
Real talk: economic revitalization is going to look more like that than a return to past. It's why Pittsburgh would rather talk up its banking and medical sectors and why, here, Marionaires are championing their small businesses and storefronts.
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