Skull Session: Ohio State Assistants on the Rise, Defensive Linemen Look to Dominate Point of Attack and Austin Mack Starts a Campus Club

By Kevin Harrish on August 11, 2018 at 4:59 am
Jonathan Cooper is my hype man for the Saturday Skull Session.

Two weeks from today, the first Division I college football game will be played. It's almost here. I can taste it.


Word of the Day: Abjure.

 HEAD COACHES IN THE MAKING. Urban Meyer's coaching tree is expansive, and for good reason. He regularly brings in the nation's top up-and-coming talent and equips and empowers them to lead a football team before they ultimately leave for head coaching jobs of their own.

It's not a cycle that's likely to cease any time soon with the high-level assistants and coordinators Ohio State currently employs. Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports ranked the top-20 assistant coaches ready for head coaching positions, and two current Buckeyes made the top-five.

From Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports:

2. Ryan Day, Ohio State offensive coordinator

We’ll learn a lot about Day this season, regardless of the fate of Urban Meyer’s paid administrative leave. Day has been the interim coach in Meyer’s absence, a choice that came about because he lacks any morsel of controversy in his background. If Meyer comes back, Day will resume a new role as redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins’ primary play caller. He got that role from co-coordinator Kevin Wilson after Mississippi State (head job) and the Tennessee Titans (coordinator) showed interest in Day last year. More may call, as the early buzz on Haskins is strong.

The first time I ever spoke to Ryan Day, I knew he was going to be a great head coach one day, possibly even at Ohio State if the timing was right. His knowledge of the game is incredible, but he's also very clearly a great teacher and communicator with absolutely no character issues or red flags in his background, as Thamel noted.

The Buckeyes have two former head coaches on staff, but PR reasons aside, I was completely unshocked Day was named the interim.

4. Greg Schiano, Ohio State defensive coordinator

Schiano has a perception issue, not a qualification issue. He topped this list last season, but both the fan revolt at Tennessee and OSU picking Day as interim coach loom as potential obstacles. A savvy AD will trade a bad day of public relations for the most vastly over-qualified coach on this list. He’s turned down a handful of jobs in recent years, waiting for the right chance. He’s proven an elite recruiter at Ohio State as well, as an aggregate recruiting service ranked him the No. 2 recruiting coach in the country last year.

Ohio State is extremely lucky Greg Schiano is still on staff, because he probably shouldn't be and is drastically overqualified for what he currently does in Columbus. The only reason he's still here is public perception. But hey, the Buckeyes will take him for as long as he wants to stay. 

 DOMINATING THE "GET-OFF." The average football play takes about four seconds, meaning every fraction of those seconds is vital, especially when you're trying to get past 300 lb. men trained to stop you.

Those trench battles are won and lost in matters of fractions of seconds, making that first jump and the ensuing movement, absolutely critical.

From the Ohio State football beat GOAT Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch:

Led by end Nick Bosa and tackle Dre’Mont Jones, the defensive line is considered among the elite in the country, perhaps on par with Clemson’s. But Johnson’s perpetual notion is there’s always room for improvement, especially in the get-off.

“He’s right,” Bosa said before camp. “You’re always trying to get better with it because that’s the most important part.”


Bosa, a preseason All-American and the reigning Big Ten defensive lineman of the year, is a devout disciple of the Johnson method. Like Johnson said, the first reaction puts a player in a leveraged position to move, but it’s the next couple of steps that can take him places, either into or out of the play. It is a prime focus for Bosa this preseason as he seeks improvement over last year.

“Just the point of attack, what I could do better to affect things,” Bosa said. “Everybody likes to watch to finish of the plays, the sacks, when they’re hitting the quarterback. Most highlight tapes are just of the guy coming across the edge and hitting the quarterback. What’s important is what gets you there, everything before that.”

To be clear, I'm just as enthralled watching Nick Bosa send a 6-6, 300 lb. tackle backpedaling with one perfectly placed hand, but the point still stands – the first instant off the snap is make or break.

 MACK LOOKING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Student athletes don't have a ton of down time, but Austin Mack used his to put together a campus club that he hopes can have a positive impact on the community of African American athletes on campus.

Mack felt that the amount of time spent with his team is isolating in a sense, and wanted a way for black male student athletes across campus to get to know each other, expanding friendships across different different sports.

As someone who never did anything near this productive in five years with significantly more free time, I can honestly say I admire Mack's ambition.

 STUDENT JOURNALISTS GET TRIAL BY FIRE. This has not been an exceptionally light month for Buckeye sports news, in terms of quantity or depth of subject matter.

Colin Gay, the new sports editor of The Lantern, has had the duty of reporting on these heavy, important and wide-reaching subjects.

In his first few months on the job, he's covered a massive sexual abuse scandal, the firing of a position coach following domestic violence allegations, and the pending job status of Urban Meyer with an understaffed team of reporters and editors, all while balancing a part-time job and an unpaid internship.

From the Columbia Journalism Review:

AS NEWS ALERTS began pouring into his phone last week, Colin Gay knew he had to get out from behind the concession stand. College football journalist Brett McMurphy was reporting that Ohio State coach Urban Meyer knew about domestic violence allegations against one of his assistants, and Gay, the sports editor at Ohio State’s student newspaper, The Lantern, had to write. He went to his supervisor at the Columbus, Ohio, movie theater where he had taken a summer job, and said he had to end his shift early. “I told my boss ‘I need to leave, right now,’” Gay says. “I knew I needed to get this story up because this is way bigger than me, way bigger than my minimum-wage summer job. This is information that people need to know.”


“This summer has been sort of a trial by fire,” says Lantern Editor in Chief Edward Sutelan, a rising senior at the university. With a summertime staff of half a dozen reporter/editors, The Lantern has published a steady stream of pieces chronicling two stories that cross the boundaries of sports and touch on national conversations about sexual abuse, domestic violence, and institutional negligence. In Columbus, summer is usually a time to look ahead to Ohio State football, but over the past two months, space usually devoted to preseason previews has been filled with stories on police reports and internal investigations.

Even for experienced journalists, there are few issues more delicate to report on than sexual abuse and domestic violence, and the staff at The Lantern says they understand the unique position in which they’ve been placed. They’ve spent the past couple of months digging through police reports, digesting class action lawsuits and, most challengingly, learning to deal with sensitive subjects. “The gravity of these stories was something that was brand new to me,” Gay says. “I’ve had to ask a lot of questions about how to approach certain story ideas.”

The day before he rushed from the movie theater, Gay published a piece on male victims of sexual assault in which he interviewed one of the men who says Stauss abused him. (Strauss died by suicide in 2005). “That was the most difficult story I’ve ever had to write, to approach a topic that’s hard to ask about.”

I know Colin very well – he was my roommate for the past year – and he's had absolutely outstanding coverage of stories that are urgent, fast developing and quite sensitive.

With stories of this scope and nature, there's been little margin for error, but he's been incredible and he'll continue to be incredible throughout the year. I'd urge you to check out his work here, and be sure to follow him on Twitter at @ColinGay17.

 JAMARCO JONES STILL LOOKING LIKE A STEAL. I'm going to continue to post Jamarco Jones updates until he is eventually listed as a day-one starter.

He's going to end up being a 10-year starter that the Seahawks got in the fifth round. Good for them, but bad on 31 other teams.

 THOSE WMDs. What California’s fire onslaught would look like in different places around the country... Brutal underground world of British bare-knuckle boxing revealed... Teens arrested after allegedly robbing the same home twice in one day... Wake Forest basketball coach charged in punch that killed Florida tourist... 

View 72 Comments