Skull Session: Why Joe Burreaux Chose Death Valley, How Thad Matta Teams Avoided Turnovers, and Charles Woodson Yells at Clouds

By D.J. Byrnes on May 21, 2018 at 4:59 am
Isaiah Prince blocks the May 21 2018 Skull Session

Landscaping: A lot harder than the final product looks.


Word of the Day: Bibliopole.

 BEST BURRITO IN BATON ROUGE. Hell, it really happened. Joe Burrow transferred to Farmer Fran's LSU.

Like everyone else who has spent more than five seconds in New Orleans, I have a soft spot for anything related to Louisiana while also never wanting to travel to any other part of the state.

I bet my last five cents on Burrow picking Cincinnati. The lesson, as always, is I don't know anything. The Tigers passed an extreme vetting.

From Bruce Feldman of The Athletic ($):

On his visit to LSU last week, Burrow wasn’t concerned about seeing the stadium or anything external. He just really wanted to meet the players and talk football, a person with knowledge of the visit told The Athletic. Burrow spent three or four hours going over his film as well as LSU’s offense, impressing the Tigers’ staff with the way he called protections, made adjustments, connected on tight throws and displayed excellent anticipation. The Buckeyes’ staff also has raved about his character.

If Burrow beats Bama this year he will retire—at worst—as a Top 5 quarterback in Buckeye history. Not a bad place for a guy that never started a game in Columbus.

 HOW THAD MATTA'S TEAM ELUDED AUTHORITIES. One cool thing about sports is you can sit on your couch and accuse part-time refs of belonging to elaborate conspiracies in effort to assuage cognitive dissonance created by your preferred team playing bad.

But there's a reason good teams don't get called for fouls, and it usually starts with coaching. Here's how Thad Matta's teams evaded refs all those years.

From Sports Illustrated in 2011:

Matta's secret to whistle-avoidance goes beyond merely having long, athletic players and telling them not to foul. One of the foundations of his philosophy came from something he heard while serving as an assistant at Butler in the early '90s, and listening to the Indianapolis radio show of then-Pacers coach Larry Brown. "If you can guard your man when he doesn't have the ball," Matta recalls Brown saying, "then it's 10 times easier to guard him when he gets the ball."

The point being: You avoid fouls and play effective D if you're in quality position ahead of time, not reacting after your man catches a pass. That kind of preparedness can only be achieved through a combination of effort, mental sharpness and advance scouting.

No one on the Buckeyes puts this into practice better than Lighty, a senior who's regarded as one of the nation's most versatile, elite defenders. He regularly draws tough defensive assignments, yet commits just 2.2 fouls per 40 minutes.

"If you do your work early -- fighting hard through screens, and anticipating where your man is cutting without the ball -- then you don't have to worry about fouling as much when he has it," Lighty says. "If we're fouling, that means we're not playing hard enough."

You're damn right we're talking seven-year-old Sports Illustrated articles on a Monday in the middle of May. It's also because it features David Lighty, one of the most underrated players in men's basketball history.

If you had to pick a Buckeye to defend a game-winning shot, the right pick is Lighty on anything outside of 10-feet. (Greg Oden would handle anything inside of that.)

 WOODSON'S MOUTH WRITES CHECKS HIS BODY CAN NO LONGER CASH. I am old enough to remember the 1990s. They were a grand time for a middle-class mayonnaise sandwich in Marion—outside of the losses to Michigan.

Charles Woodson played a role almost as big as Tim Biakabutuka. Even worse, he bullied the Browns in the NFL. 

So I respect him as much as any Ohio State fan can. It still tickles me to see him reduced to pompous declarations and vapid insights.

After declaring at commencement Michigan would beat Ohio State in 212 days—which, for the record, is a Monday—he is now prescribing the last two decades of trash to the Wolverines not caring enough about the last game of the regular season.

From Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News:

“It feels like every time I’m watching our teams in the recent years, it’s, ‘Aw, you know, it’s another game,’” Woodson said. “Nah, it’s not, and it should never be that way to any of the players who come in here. That’s really my message to the guys, the freshmen who will come in to the guys who have already been here and been a part of the game — that is THE game. We would love to win them all, but we’ve got to have that one. That’s what it is.”


“Some people understand it, some people don’t,” Woodson said of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. “(Rodriguez) never understood it. And even then (with Hoke), I still don’t think there was enough emphasis on it.”

Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke have more wins over Ohio State than Jim Harbaugh. So it's more about what Woodson didn't say.

Still, this is a take you expect from a fan that just lost a mortgage payment on a bad beat. Clearly, your team didn't lose because they were inferior. It's because they didn't care enough to win the game.

It's not like Harbaugh didn't live The Rivalry. It's not like he doesn't twitch in bed at night when he remembers the Brooklyn Dagger. Despite video evidence otherwise, it's not like John O'Korn was trying to throw interceptions.

There are entire generations of Wolverine players whose last thoughts will probably revolve around not beating the Buckeyes. Michigan cares.

That's the price of a century-long blood feud.

It doesn't change that they lost all those games because they were the worse program. I predicted Jim Harbaugh would be the Wolverine John Cooper. Blue fans didn't want to listen.

Well, here were are. Their next complaint will be Harbaugh focuses too much on the Ohio State game. The result won't change.

 JACK SAWYER, OHIO LAD. Local 2021 defensive end Jack Sawyer is ascending in the Ohio Lad Power Poll with a quickness:

Tom Sawyer got the publicity... but he could never hit a jump shot??? Makes you think, for sure.

 THOSE WMDs. The mafia reporter with a police escort (and the 200 journalists like him)... Where the gorillas live... The strange, artistic world of Marfa, Texas... Once a #teen runaway, Cameron Mitchell now owns a $300 million restaurant empire... Xi Jinping's propaganda empire.

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