Skull Session: Dwayne Haskins Impressed in High School, Daniel Giddens' Potential Return, and Thad Matta Staying Retired

By Kevin Harrish on April 2, 2019 at 4:59 am
Chris Olave is ready for a breakout season in today's Skull Session.

Important life update: I'm teaching my cat to walk on a leash. We haven't made it more than 30 feet out the front door yet, but that's 31 feet further than we'd ever made it before. Baby steps.


Word of the Day: Jeremiad.

 LIKE A SPONGE. I remember when Dwayne Haskins wasn't Ohio State's top quarterback target coming out of high school because his running ability only slightly exceeded that of a statue.

And even in hindsight, that's probably a fair take – if you're looking for a runner, Haskins sure ain't your guy. But when you have a kid who's wanted to come to Ohio State since he was 8-years old with absurd arm talent and unnatural football IQ coming out of high school, maybe bend your system a little bit?

I'm no expert, but landing a generational arm talent seems preferable to offering a guy who ultimately elected to play receiver at Oregon instead.

And according Bryson Spinner, who as one of Haskins' quarterback coaches growing up, his talent and mental maturity was obvious early on.

From John Keim of ESPN:

"He would call me and be like, 'Coach, I'm watching the NFL Network and I saw such and such coverage. What do you think?'" Spinner said. "He was asking questions pros would ask. He was mature beyond his years when it came to football IQ. ... He came through the 7-on-7 circuit and we're playing against other five-star kids and big-name guys in the secondary and Dwayne is putting the ball in places [defenders] couldn't do anything about it."

By the time he was a senior, Haskins was calling his own plays. Once, on a fourth-and-8 against Episcopal High School, Haskins bypassed a throw designed for the right side, instead throwing a swing pass to the left that resulted in a touchdown.

"I said, 'Why?' and he said, 'The linebacker was tucked in and I thought we could beat him there,' and he did," Cilento said. "You could let him control it; he knows what he's doing. ... We gave him total control of the offense. With him everything was an RPO (run-pass option); he could throw it at any time. Sometimes you'd pull your hair out -- fourth-and-1 and he throws a quick screen. We got a first down. He was that kind of kid; very smart player."

As Haskins matured, his coaches altered the offense. They threw more vertical passes. They ran no-huddle. And they trusted him completely. On a third-and-goal with 12 seconds left in his conference championship game against Georgetown Prep, Haskins, who drove the team 75 yards in 91 seconds despite hobbling on a sprained ankle, took a snap on the right side and threw an out all the way to the other sideline. Touchdown.

Even more than his ICBM arm, Haskins' football brain and work ethic is why I'm positive he'll be successful at the next level. Everyone in the NFL has God-given talent, but not everyone is going to outwork him on the field or in the film room.

 THE PRODIGAL SON RETURNS? In an absolutely amazing turn of events, Daniel Giddens could actually be coming back to Ohio State after a brief developmental period at  Alabama.

My favorite part of all of this is that Gleitman clearly realized how unbelievable this sounded, continuing to insist that this wasn't an April Fool's joke and it was actually real information.

As hilarious as this is, I get it. On Giddens' end, he clearly liked Ohio State as a school and program enough to go there out of high school. It's not unbelievable he'd want to go back. And Ohio State pretty desperately needs some depth in the post after Jaeden LeDee's transfer, especially someone who can play immediately.

And call me crazy, but I kind of liked Giddens when he was at Ohio State. I always thought his defense was solid and his level of give-a-damn was refreshing for an Ohio State big, though to be fair it's not like that bar was set very high.

He also gave us this beautiful, solo-finger response to Alvin Ellis III's bullshittery:

Daniel Giddens flips him the bird.

If he chooses to return, then hypothetically the Buckeyes would be getting a more improved, and more mature version of him this time, which is always welcome.

From Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch:

His father, Harvey Giddens, declined to comment on the visit and on why his son left Ohio State in the first place, but spoke highly of what the experience at Alabama taught him.

“Daniel’s a mature individual,” he said. “Compared to the time you saw him at Ohio State to where he is now, of course it’s a drastic, night-and-day difference, a kid to an adult. You can let the positive attributes speak for themselves. He’s a great kid with high character. I’m proud of my son in that domain.”

As for what his son is looking for in a school, Harvey Giddens said, “He just wants to go to a place where he can pretty much demonstrate his skill set. I’m just speaking as a parent, but where he can make a strong contribution. That’s all he’s looking for. He wants to be the consummate, ultimate teammate. He’s a kid with great character. He’s doing the best he can. I’m just letting him navigate his own ship.”

According to Gleitman, Giddens is visiting today, meaning we could be hearing news one way or the other soon.

We should also be hearing a decision about Ibrahima Diallo in the very near future, given that he said he would decide by the end of March, and it's now April.

 THAD STAYING RETIRED. It looks like Thad Matta has decided to continue his hustle of collecting full-time paychecks for being retired – a decision which I fully respect and admire.

Matta has an offer from UNLV as well, and the job was reportedly "his if he wants it," but if he's passing on UCLA it's tough to imagine he's going to willing to accept that one instead, especially if the alternative is collecting $100,000 a month to do anything else you'd like to do.

Those checks will keep coming in until June of 2020, as long as he keeps seeking a "comparable employment position," as the contract stipulates. So until July of 2020 rolls around, forgive me for being just a tad skeptical every time Matta's name is mentioned in a coaching search.

 SPORT GAMBLING COMING. It seems like only a matter of time before sports gambling is legalized in The Great State of Ohio, and with that legalization could come a solid boost to the sports bar industry, if it's done right.

From Crain's Cleveland Business:

The gambling advocate and author had planned to get a constitutional amendment that would bring sports betting to bars, restaurants and bowling alleys on the ballot for 2019, but now thinks 2020 is more likely. He figures that year will be better anyway, because of the higher voter turnout that the presidential election will produce.


The bill being proposed in the state senate offers mobile and online betting, which, like that of casino and racino wagering, would be regulated by the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

"It basically drives business for the restaurants and lounges that are not in the casino," (gaming expert) Jay Masurekar said. "Once they get on the app, they'll sit in the local bar and restaurant watching these games. Super Bowl weekend in New Jersey (which legalized sports betting in 2018), the restaurants were completely full because of that."

I've witnessed this happen firsthand too many times to count. If a guy has action on six concurrent football games on Sunday afternoon and isn't forking away money for NFL Sunday Ticket, there's a solid chance he's going to a local bar to watch all his money evaporate on various televisions while intoxicated.

See, I have some absolute degenerate friends, and you probably do too – they just may not know it yet.

 THE VILLAIN GOES OFF. I know this is the year of D'Angelo Russell, but people forget Evan Turner is actually the best player in the NBA. He reminded the world last night.

It's nowhere near as impressive as his two 10-turnover triple-doubles at Ohio State, which honestly shouldn't really be possible to do once. Still, his former(?) nemesis was beaming with pride.

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