Skull Session: Michael Thomas Signs with Jordan Brand, Thad Matta to Xavier is out There, Columbus is “Thriving”

By Jason Priestas on March 28, 2018 at 5:00 am
Michael Thomas signs with Jordan Brand

My name is Jason Priestas and I'm your guest host for Today's Skull Session. I don't have the opportunity to write as much as I once did, but whenever D.J. goes on vacation, I always jump at the chance to take on a Skully.

I may lack D.J.'s acerbic wit and intimate knowledge of criminal activity in small town Ohio, but I hope to slay you with depth and interesting topics. If nothing else, Byrnes-stans, our #content big boy will be back from New Orleans tomorrow, doing his thing. 

You're going to think of D.J.'s spirit all day now. You're welcome.

 THOMAS GOES JORDAN BRAND. Fresh off of setting an NFL record for the most receptions in a player's first two seasons in the league (196), Michael Thomas is cashing in and joining Nike's Jordan brand.

“I always felt like I had a special connection to MJ.,” Thomas said. “Yes, I too wanted to be like Mike. Whether it’s the weight room, film study or on the football field, I refuse to settle for second. This mentality has driven me to where I am today, and I hope that I can continue the brand’s legacy by inspiring the next generation to be like Mike.”

Thomas joins former Buckeye teammate Malik Hooker and a stable of nearly 50 other athletes on the Jordan brand roster.

 A WILD JOB OPENING APPEARS. Xavier's Chris Mack is off to Louisville, agreeing to a seven-year deal worth $4 million per season to replace Rick Pitino at the scandal-ridden basketball blue blood.

That's a great hire for Louisville. The Cleveland native (and Xavier alum) went 215–97 (.689) at X, winning three conference titles, making an Elite Eight and several Sweet Sixteens in his only head coaching gig to date. He'll do well at a big school that prioritizes basketball – once he weathers whatever the NCAA may hand out.

But that brings up an interesting question: Is there a chance Thad Matta gets back into coaching at Xavier?

Matta coached coached the Musketeers from 2001-04 and took Xavier to an Elite Eight and won the regular season or conference tournament in each of his three seasons in Cincinnati, but he ruffled some feathers when he left by not exactly being forthcoming about his interest in the Ohio State job he would later take.

It's uncertain if Matta even wants to coach again soon, or if he's just testing the waters like he did at Georgia and Pittsburgh recently, but he's an interesting candidate for the Xavier job.

 A HERO ON AND OFF THE FIELD. We caught up with Ohio State softball slugger Lilli Piper a few weeks ago. Already a fascinating student-athlete, her life has seen highs and lows in recent weeks when she helped save her mother's boyfriend, who had gone into cardiac arrest, with CPR at an amusement park, only to wake up the next morning to the news that her beloved grandfather had passed.

The junior did more than just take the field after learning of her grandfather's passing. She proceeded to go 6-for-6 at the plate that day, including a 4-for-4 performance with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored against Grand Canyon followed by a 2-for-2 showing later that afternoon against Cal State Fullerton that included another 2 runs scored.

When all was said and done, Piper would enjoy an incredible 11-for-11 performance at the plate over 4 tournament games.

"In the end I knew that he wanted me to be out there with how much he valued sports,” Piper told Hero Sports. ”Yeah, it was definitely a struggle to keep focused but my teammates were a huge, huge help and supporters throughout it all. I honestly wouldn't have been able to do it without them."

 OURS. NOT YOURS. Minnesota hired a men's ice hockey coach Wednesday, nabbing St. Cloud State's Bob Motzko.

Why is this news in your Skull Session? Well, Minnesota likes to hire Minnesota Men for hockey jobs and Ohio State's Steve Rohlik, who has his team headed to the program's second ever Frozen Four, grew up in Saint Paul, in the Gophers' backyard.

Although Rohlik played his college hockey at Wisconsin, there was concern Minnesota may make a run at him.

 TODAY IN UNNECESSARY PHOTOSHOPS. Elijah Holyfield is a) the son of former world champion boxer Evander, b) a running back at Georgia, and c) swoll as all hell.

Which makes the decision to enlarge his arms a curious one.

Better yet, a lot of news outlets fell for the photoshop'd image, including the SEC Network. In a since deleted tweet, the network said had this to say about the photo:

THIS JUST IN: Elijah Holyfield has never skipped arm day ... ever

In all fairness, his arms are so big in their current state, that it's kind of hard to tell that image was photoshop'd. Which, again, why did someone feel the need to make his arms look bigger?

 VIRGINIA TECH IS BUILDING A STUDIO. The Hokies are building a $10 million studio for the launch of the ACC Network in 2019.

The $10 million figure is higher than most originally believed it would be, including Virginia Tech director of athletics Whit Babcock.  According to Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times, Babcock estimated that the cost would be in the $5-7 million range.  In the end, the athletic department will be paying $3-5 million more than expected for the new studios, which are required for the launch of the new network.

I'm honestly surprised BTN hasn't moved on something like this with member schools, considering how flush the network is with cash.

 “THRIVING.” IT ABSOLUTELY IS. Experience Columbus is rolling out a new ad campaign at the end of April and it will focus on just one word to describe the city: thriving.

In market research conducted by advertising agency BVK in cities the campaign will target – as in, not here – people rated which "core values" they associate with Columbus.

They overwhelmingly chose thriving.

Work on the new campaign is underway, with help from Milwaukee-based BVK, which designed the one-word focus.

I lived in Chicago for a decade and recently moved back to Columbus. I was amazed at how much the city had grown since I left. It's vibrant, fun, and has completely shed its little brother complex.

You can't seem to walk a block in the Short North without bumping into a crane, and there are even bigger developments on the way – like the expansion of the downtown Hilton, which will give Columbus a long coveted 1,000-room downtown hotel to attract large national events.

Here's to Ohio's greatest city.

 IMPORTANT ELEVEN WARRIORS CHALLENGE UPDATE. Heading into Final Four weekend, TGJ5445 has a 20-point lead and Villanova winning it all in our Bracket Challenge. It's far from over, but if you're TGJ5445, you're in good shape to win a $100 gift card to Eleven Warriors Dry Goods.

 ETC. Kennedy Space Center has a plan for launch fires... Ohio State's recruiting team hops on the Fortnite craze... Remembering Katie Smith and Ohio State's 1993 Final Four run... ESPN's digital push... OSU announces Spring Commencement speaker... Mozilla user? Here's an extension that isolates what Facebook tracks... How not to get out of a ticket.

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