Skull Session: Ryan Shazier's Football Brain Still Works Fine, Big Ten's Best Hoops Gigs, and Quarterback Recruits High on Dwayne Haskins

By Kevin Harrish on October 12, 2018 at 4:59 am
Hello, from the Friday Skull Session.

I just watched the same TCU squad that put up 511 yards and 28 points against the Buckeyes a few weeks ago lose 17-14 against a Texas Tech team that's had a revolving door defense my entire life.

Either Ohio State broke TCU, or was TCU already broken and the Buckeyes made them look like world beaters for about 30 minutes of football time.


Word of the Day: Concinnity.

 SHAZIER'S RETURN TO CINCINNATI. When the Steelers last visited Cincinnati, Ryan Shazier's life changed forever after a scary hit left him clutching his lower back in pain and desperately checking for movement in his extremities.

Shazier left the field in an ambulance, and his life has never been the same since. The Pro Bowl linebacker has been sidelined since the incident – though he now has mobility – but the injury didn't take away his mind for the game. And he's using that to help his team, even if he can't do it on the field.

From Will Graves of the Associated Press:

His mere presence provides an emotional lift, but Shazier is intent on being something far beyond an avatar for inspiration. He’s become a go-between of sorts between the coaching staff and the defense. He can cut through the clutter and deliver some “real talk” when necessary.

During last Sunday’s 41-17 romp over Atlanta, Shazier sat on the bench with a tablet in hand. After every series the inside linebackers would crowd around him looking for instruction and insight. Shazier would offer words of encouragement when necessary or tips on how to avoid mistakes.

“Since he’s not playing, his mental part of the game is so great,” Dupree said. “He shares a lot of stuff with us. He lets us know stuff ahead of time before the coaches even tell us. We already know it. It keeps us on our toes.”


And in a way, Pittsburgh is counting on it. Shazier will be back on the turf in Cincinnati with the rest of the team on Sunday afternoon as the Steelers look for their first winning streak of the season. When the defense runs onto the field, he’ll linger behind, a feeling that will probably never truly feel normal.

Yet if this is the best way for him to contribute, he’ll take it. So will the teammates who have come to rely on him in so many ways.

Hey, Ohio State could use some help coaching the defense. I'm just saying.

 BEST HOOPS JOBS IN THE B1G. One of my favorite things about media days of any sort are the various polls to all the attendees.

This week, Stadium – the website I was forced to learn about this offseason – had an excellent one at Big Ten men's basketball media days, asking coaches and administrators to anonymously rank the best and worst jobs in the Big Ten.

Here are the results and their criteria, from Jeff Goodman of

Big Ten's Best Jobs

Ohio State at three seems reasonable. If anything, that feels high to me for a basketball coach, but I definitely will not complain.

The best part was, Goodman shared some anonymous comments on each team. Some of the knocks against teams were especially amusing.

  • On Michigan: “Football school … And the fans are wine and cheesy, a little arrogant.” – Big Ten assistant
  • On Ohio State: “I’m not a big fan of their arena. It’s not really a huge home court advantage and the fans are far from the court.” – Big Ten assistant
  • On Maryland: “No identity in the Big Ten. They shouldn’t even be in the league.” – Big Ten head coach
  • On Illinois: “The fan base has no clue – such unrealistic expectations. They are nuts. Plus, Chicago has players – but it might take a little more than a scholarship to get a lot of them.” – Big Ten assistant coach
  • On Penn State (this was not a knock, but it should be): “Penn State football. Honestly, that’s the biggest selling point.” – Big Ten assistant

It's honestly hard to disagree with any of that. I have no idea how valid those sources are, but they seem pretty spot on.

 TEENS LOVE OHIO STATE'S OFFENSE. It sure doesn't hurt quarterback recruiting when a first year starter goes out there and slings it for 25 touchdowns and almost 2,000 yards in his first six games.

The teens were watching, and the teens like what they see.

From Bill Landis of

Lindell Stone, now a quarterback at Virginia, and Haskins combined for 13 passing touchdowns in a 66-65 overtime shootout that Bullis lost.

"I've been a big fan of Dwayne Haskins since I was in middle school," Preston Stone told this week.

That impressionable middle schooler is now a high school sophomore in Dallas, a dual-threat quarterback rated the No. 6 overall player in the Class of 2021 by 247Sports. So far, Stone is the only quarterback in that class with a reported offer from Ohio State.

He's still watching Haskins and the OSU offense, and he's still a fan.


"There were just telling me they were transitioning into kind of a more throw the ball, spread and throw it around instead of running the ball so much," Miller told "They took me through the playbook when I went up there to visit. Coach Day sat me down and told me about the direction they were going. That just made me very comfortable."

Miller, the No. 4 pro-style prospect in the 2020 class, has a chance to be Meyer's highest-rated recruit at Ohio State by the time he signs.

I have no idea what would have to transpire for Ryan Day to still be in Columbus when Jack Miller inherits the quarterback throne, but I'm willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that it happens.

 NOT EVEN THE NIT? Yesterday, I shared Brendan Quinn of The Athletic's Tweet ranking the Buckeye basketball team No. 8 in the Big Ten – which I think is recklessly low.

Folks, if that's recklessly low, I don't even know what to call this ranking from Andy Katz of

12. Ohio State: The Buckeyes are major unknown, maybe the toughest team to slot in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes were better than expected a season ago. This could be the bridge season. Wake Forest transfer Keyshawn Woods may end up helping Ohio State finish higher. But recruiting is going so well that the expectation is the Buckeyes will be back near the top soon.

Postseason prediction: None.

Look, I know Keita Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate and Kam Williams aren't going to be there next year and it could be rough at times, but it's not like Chris Holtmann just rolled up at a YMCA and asked for a few dudes to join the squad to replace them.

Ohio State's probably not going to compete for the Big Ten title this season, but the Buckeyes sure as hell ain't finishing 12th and missing out on the NIT. Good coaches in their prime just don't let that happen, regardless of the team.

 MORE MADISON SQUARE GARDEN! Last year, the Big Ten Tournament was held in Madison Square Garden, for some reason, even though it meant playing the tournament a week early.

Well, it seems Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany is committed to doing it again in the future, but not a week early next time.

To be clear, the only way this happens is if the Big Ten outbids the Big East substantially for the venue.

So basically, the Big Ten is about to get absolutely fleeced on this deal just to play in an expensive city drastically out of the way for the majority of fans, for no clear reason other than "expanding the market" and playing in basketball's Mecca – which currently houses the New York Knicks.

Better yet, it's going to look like the Big Ten is bullying the Big East out of its beloved home, and the blowback will be loud (if you don't believe me, read the replies to that Tweet).

Sounds like a win all around!

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