Skull Session: College Football Playoff's Physical Toll, Jack Miller's Throne Awaits, and Transfer Portal's Side Effect

By Kevin Harrish on May 16, 2019 at 4:59 am
Brutus is throwing it up in today's Skull Session.

Turns out, it's probably not that fun to be mistaken as an NFL football player when you're also a different NFL football player.

Terry should have just rode with it, gave them some wild scoop, and seen how far it got.


Word of the Day: Vilipend.

 PLAYOFF TAKES A TOLL. Everyone's clamoring for playoff expansion, and it really seems so simple: just add another round.

The problem is, as Gene Smith points out, there are actual humans involved in these games. And he's not convinced they could physically handle one more round.

From Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News:

But expanding the field isn’t a slam dunk with the Big Ten’s athletic directors.

Ohio State has been in the playoff twice and won the 2014 national championship, but athletic director Gene Smith is wary of some of the downfalls of extending the season.

“I see the value of studying it. I think it’s worth looking at,” Smith said. “But I think there’s a lot of problems around it, I really do. I think you need to look at the wear and tear. When we won the championship in the inaugural year, I’m not so sure our guys could’ve gone another game. We played Michigan. We turned around and went to the (Big Ten) championship game. We turned around and played Alabama, and then you turn around and play Oregon. Most people don’t understand the toll that takes on a young person’s body. … And you’re playing at the top of the pyramid against the best.

“I’d be a little bit concerned about student-athlete welfare from a health and safety view. So I’m not sure how it would work. I would hope there would be some gaps so that they could breathe.”

This is extremely valid. I mean, if Ohio State wins the title this year, it would mean a stretch of Penn State, Michigan, a Big Ten Championship game, and then back-to-back games against top-four teams. And I'm sure there are other teams with similar gauntlets.

Something probably should be done, and I think the easiest solution would be to get rid of conference championship games, play the Army vs. Navy game that weekend, then start the playoff the weekend after that.

I agree that we're at (or maybe even above) the maximum number of games we can expect a team to play, but I don't think that makes playoff expansion impossible.

 HEIR TO THE THRONE. When Thanos snapped his fingers and half of Ohio State's future quarterbacks disappeared, I was nowhere near as concerned as I probably should have been.

I mean, at one point, the Buckeyes only had two scholarship quarterbacks. One of them never even expected to be on the roster this season when he first arrived, and then was the backup quarterback all of the sudden (fittingly enough, his last name could be shortened into a literal reminder that it was time to start drinking irresponsibly).

I was never really worried because I'm an eternal optimist, and the best-case scenario never changed: Justin Fields reigns, then hands the throne to Jack Miller.

And folks, the King that is Promised is extremely good.

From Kyle Rowland of the Toledo Blade:

“He’s really good,” Chaparral coach Brent Barnes said of Miller. “It’s hard to put into words sometimes. I’ve been fortunate to be around a lot of really good ones, too. And I’ve had some that could really play the position and understood it. From a skillset standpoint, he’s one of the best I’ve been around. The way he spins it, the accuracy, and he’s still pretty mobile for a big guy.”

On July 1, before the first snap of his junior season, Miller committed to Ohio State. He was offered by the Buckeyes when he was a freshman, a rarity for the Urban Meyer-coached program.

But Miller was different, cut from a mold that seemed destined for greatness.


When Miller began lighting up Phoenix scoreboards, it wasn’t difficult for Meyer to extend an offer. And a practice that sometimes backfires — OSU offered freshman QB Danny Clark in 2013, only to see the one-time phenom flame out — has been the opposite for the Buckeyes. Miller has shot upward since his freshman year, undergoing rapid growth and stockpiling scholarship offers all the while staying true to Ohio State.

A coaching change from Meyer to Ryan Day didn’t rattle him. Neither did the transfer of Justin Fields or the commitment of 2021 four-star quarterback Kyle McCord.

“It really had no impact,” Miller said. “Of course, I wanted to play for coach Meyer. But I’ve always felt really comfortable with coach Day. I’ve had such a great relationship with him since my freshman year. I want to play for him, too, so I’m comfortable. I never changed my mind about anything. Everywhere I visited after Ohio State just didn’t really compare. Since my freshman year, I was always comparing schools to Ohio State, and no school really competed with him.”

I mean, just watch his highlights. I couldn't hand the ball to those receivers any better. And he still has another year in high school!

 PORTAL'S SIDE EFFECT. Without even looking at the data, I think it's pretty clear that the NCAA Transfer Portal has led to an increase in player transfers by making the whole process easier.

One huge side effect that I had not considered is that at this point, any player entering the portal might have a tough time finding a landing spot. That means that there are likely to be a least a few Division I caliber athletes without Division I scholarships.

It's going to be interesting to see how this develops in the future. Because the flip side of this is that there are teams that are missing out on adding a player that could help their team because they don't have space. Maybe teams will start budgeting roster spots for the transfer market in the future.

 BIG TEN RAKES IN MONEY. There's one simple way to see a revenue bump of $250 million in a single year: win the lottery.

Alternatively, you could just be the Big Ten Conference.

From Steve Berkowitz of USA Today:

The Big Ten Conference has established a new benchmark in the how-high-is-up world of college sports finance: It recorded nearly $759 million in revenue during its 2018 fiscal year.

The figure, which far exceeds any comparable annual figure for a college sports conference, was revealed in a new federal tax return that the conference provided Wednesday in response to a request from USA TODAY. It is a year-over-year revenue increase of 48 percent, with the conference reaching $512.9 million in fiscal 2017.

The return also showed that commissioner Jim Delany was credited was just over $5.5 million in total compensation for the 2017 calendar year. That, too, is a single-year record for a conference.

The revenue total was driven by new TV agreements that took effect at the start of the 2017-18 school year and resulted in payments of roughly $54 million to each of the 14-team conference’s 12 longest-standing members. Maryland and Rutgers received smaller revenue-share amounts, but both schools also received loans from the conference against future revenue shares.

The next closest in terms of revenue was the SEC, which reported just under $660 million in total revenue. So the Big Ten is outpacing the second-place conference by $100 million.

And to put that $54 million payment from TV agreements into perspective, it's bigger than the entire athletic budget of more than 170 of the 213 athletic programs at public institutions outside of the Big Ten.

So basically, by just being in the Big Ten Conference, your school gets handed a single annual payment bigger than the entire athletic budget of 80 percent of other schools.

Brb, going start a college football team and smooth talk my way into the Big Ten.

 CRISPIEST UNIFORM OF THE YEAR. I almost lost my mind when the Buckeyes rolled out these works of art for their throwback game in St. John Arena, and they've got a chance to get some recognition they deserve.

I think the Ohio State hoops team has a severely underrated collection of uniforms. The regular uniforms definitely aren't bad to begin with, but then they've also got two different grays and those scarlet throwbacks in the regular rotation.

This might not be a popular opinion, but I'd be down with a black uniform to match the football team.

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