Skull Session: Young Makes a Mark, Holtmann Offering Ohioans Early, and SEC Blocked Saban Hiring Freeze

By D.J. Byrnes on April 17, 2018 at 4:59 am
Thayer Munford blocks the April 17 2018 Skull Session


Programming notes: Game 3 of Blue Jackets–Capitals tonight in Columbus, with the Jackets leading the series 2-0.

The puck drops at 7:30 on FSO. Follow our sister site, 1st Ohio Battery, on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates and check the site for pre and postgame coverage.

Also, J.T. Barrett will be on Russell Wilson's QBQ2B Series on ESPN at 7:30 as well.

Word of the Day: Agitprop.

 CHASE BOSA: LITTLEST BEAR. Enemies of Ohio State must be sick in Year 7 of Urban Meyer. After recruiting Joey Bosa, Meyer replaced him with his little brother. To replace Nick, Meyer tapped five-star Maryland defensive end Chase Young.

To make matters worse, unlike the Bosa brothers, Nick and Chase play on the same team. Young showcased what makes him dangerous throughout the spring game.

From Colin Hass-Hill of The Lantern:

Despite being credited with just one sack, Young said he would have had six or seven sacks if he could tackle quarterbacks. No one should doubt his unofficial count. Seemingly every possession Young played, he got his hands on a quarterback or disrupted a pass.


The physical specimen spent his first season backing up four future NFL players — junior Nick Bosa and now-departed Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes. Despite not playing starter-level snaps due to the veteran talent at his position, Young, a former five-star prospect, flashed enough for Holmes to call him a future No. 1 overall draft pick one week into last season.

“Chase is going to be a really good player — he’s a good player now,” defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said after the Spring Game. “He’s got the potential to be something special. With [defensive line coach Larry Johnson] working with him, I fully expect that to happen.”

The defensive line must still prove to be better than last year's unit. And I share the confidence in them that Schiano has with their coach. This year's line should have more talent and depth.

The Florida Gators' terrorizing Troy Smith is the one thing that has always stuck with me from the 2007 BCS shellacking. It's a terrible feeling watching your Incredible Hulk bullied back into Bruce Banner right before your eyes, and I hope every opposing fan experiences my pain this fall.

 HOLTMANN NOT SLOW ROLLING POTENTIAL STARS. Recruiting is a fickle mistress, especially in college basketball where scholarships aren't as numerous. Thad Matta took the cautious route with offering in-state stars. Better to wait and be sure rather than torpedo your program is a program cornerstone fails to materialize.

Chris Holtmann has taken the opposite approach. And it recently paid off when five-star Cleveland Garfield Heights power forward Alonzo Gaffney committed.


“What I love about this coaching staff is they’re not waiting to pull the trigger,” [Garfield Heights coach Sonny] Johnson said. “They’re seeing young talent and they’re getting on them early. That’s the key. These guys have to feel Ohio State. Mostly every kid (here) grows up thinking about Ohio State. Why not show these kids that love early, and then when it comes down to it you’ll be able to choose which one you want at the right time?”

Gaffney isn’t the only player Holtmann and his staff showed some early love. The Buckeyes have already offered a scholarship to the coach’s nephew, Meechie Johnson, a Garfield Heights point guard in the class of 2021 who just finished his freshman season.

That offer was handed out in November, and Holtmann has said he’s not necessarily concerned about class or age when it comes time to offer a scholarship.

Talent evaluation is the heart of the business, and it's evident Matta's skills deteriorated in that final stretch.

Thankfully Gene Smith made the switch despite the inopportune timeframe. The Buckeyes probably don't land Alonzo Gaffney if he had let Matta ride for another year, like he originally pledged to do.

 IT JUST MEANS MORE. Former Mississippi State fan Hugh Freeze made the mistake of arranging sex on his company phone, and a Mississippi State fan dropped a dime that led to his demise.

Stories like these are part of the resplendent fabric of college football. Nick Saban understands that, which is why he tried to hire the offensive-minded Freeze this past summer. 

He wasn't the only one, either. The SEC, however, had different ideas. 

From our nation's paper of record,

Alabama was one of at least five SEC schools that had contact with Freeze about on-field jobs this offseason. Saban wanted to hire Freeze as a co-offensive coordinator and position coach, sources told

However, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey encouraged Alabama not to hire a man as well known for the personal shortcomings that led to his Ole Miss resignation as he is for his success as a coach.

It's the primary reason why Saban, the highest-paid and most powerful coach in college football, couldn't add Freeze to his staff this offseason, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation who provided previously unreported details about Alabama's pursuit of the former Ole Miss head coach.

So not only did this Mississippi State troll torch Mississippi, his research kept Alabama, Missouri, and other conference foes from improving their teams this season while his team hired James Franklin's offensive brain.

Impressive work. I can do nothing but doff my cap.

 SPEAKING OF JOE MOORHEAD. I know I'm not alone in thinking Penn State's offense will morph back into a pumpkin now that Joe Moorhead coaches in StarkVegas.

James Franklin disagrees. He puts their onus of success on the shoulders of Sober Johnny Manziel.


Electric senior quarterback Trace McSorley is back and ready to lead a group that is talented, hungry and ready to break through that glass ceiling that is the CFP. McSorley threw for 3,570 yards and 28 touchdowns a year ago, rushing for 491 yards and 11 additional scores; he enters the 2018 campaign as one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy, according to bookmakers both onshore and off. 

"His return is dramatic," Franklin told CBS Sports. "There's so much confidence with him within our coaches, players, our organization, within this community and on this campus. I don't think there's any doubt about it, he's a huge impact for us. Offensively, we have a lot of guys returning even though we've lost some big-time playmakers. We feel good about the guys who are coming back. 

But it's fair to ask what McSorley will be as the focal point of the offense, rather than Barkley gobbling up most of the attention.

Can't wait to remember these quotes as Penn State paramedics scrape the carcass of McSorley out of the Beaver Stadium grass in late September.

 THOSE WMDs. A peek inside the Silicon Valley grift machine... What you need to know about the Infinity Stones before the new Avengers movie... The vending machine that spits out short stories... The murder that shook Iceland... Reviews: Putting yourself on a shelf.

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