Skull Session: Ryan Day Prefers Ohio State to the Patriots, Justin Fields is a Top-10 Quarterback, and Dawand Jones Leaves the Hardwood

By Kevin Harrish on June 12, 2019 at 7:10 am
One legend trains a future legend in today's skull session.

I awoke from a cold sweat this morning at the realization that I did not schedule my Skull Session before taking my quotidian slumber.

Early risers, please accept my sincerest apologies. On the flip side, you now know what it's like to start a day free of my morning rambles. I don't expect you to return.


Word of the Day: Ossify.

 THE BEST JOB IN FOOTBALL. Ryan Day hasn't even coached a game as the permanent head coach at Ohio State, but in a way I've already come to peace with the idea that he's going to leave for the Patriots as soon as Billy B hangs it up (or more realistically, croaks on the job).

It makes too much sense. Day spent most of his assistant coaching career in the NFL and Patriots football is basically a religion in his hometown of Manchester, New Hampshire.

Day isn't a native Ohioan and frankly has no reason to be lifetime loyal to the Buckeyes. But what if he just simply wants to be at Ohio State forever because he thinks it's the pinnacle of coaching? Cause that's what he says.

From my pal Ari Wasserman of The Athletic ($):

“I’ve never dove into this in my mind,” (Ryan Day) says. “I came from a town where who you are matters. There’s a pride in who you are. And in the sports world, it was the Celtics and the Red Sox and the Patriots. There is a sense of pride in that. That’s who we were. There’s an identity with that. And that’s what this place is. Ohio State is in the blood of every person in Ohio. If we were ever to win a national championship here, I would cry. I would cry like a baby. I would want to do a parade in Columbus and Cleveland and Cincinnati. I know what this team means to the people in this state.

“That’s the way I was brought up. That’s how I was brought up in that town. That’s the way we were all brought up there. I wasn’t born in Ohio. But I know what identity is.”


“Picture an immigrant, or our families who came over from Scotland and Ireland,” (Day's brother) Chris says. “All of those years of all of our family ties, yours, everyone’s, how they got over here, it’s a fucking battle. They end up in Manchester or Columbus, and they stay there. Well, Ryan hasn’t fucking ended up anywhere. So all these years, he’s gone place to place to place, and he wants to settle in. If he can get settled in and win, that’s what he wants. He wants what he had in Manchester somewhere else. He wants it to be in Columbus. That’s a fact.”

But what if the Patriots come calling?

“In my opinion,” Ryan says, “and this is what blows everyone’s mind away — this is a bigger job than the Patriots. You can be anywhere in the country and there are Buckeyes everywhere. This is the biggest and best job in football.”

The more I think about it, the more this situation feels like the Dabo Swinney conundrum.

See, I always assumed Dabo would be Nick Saban's heir at Alabama, because it made too much sense. He's one of the best coaches in the game and happens to be an Alabama alum.

The problem is, why the hell would he leave Clemson at this point?

If Day's successful (and he's already nailing his first offseason, by all accounts), why the hell would he be ready to leave Ohio State in a few years?

But honestly, I'm not sure we need to even consider either of those situations since both Nick Saban and Bill Belichick seem to have made a deal with the devil and I expect them to coach eternally at this point.

Anyway, the entire piece from Ari is fantastic, as usual. It's a deep dive on Ryan Day's hometown and upbringing and what that says about the new Buckeye coach's identity. It's absolutely worth your read if you're one of their subscribers.

 EIGHT IS GREAT. We're in the thick of the Subjective Lists portion of the offseason (not to be confused with Watch List Season, which comes in mid July).

It's that wonderful time of the year sports words writers all across these great United States try their hand at ranking or listing pretty much anything based solely on their own opinions and perceptions. Then, the beloved readers get to tell them how wrong they are in the comments section.

I'm not going to even try to pretend we don't do it. We've listed the most memorable games, games we wish we could replay – hell, we even ranked roller coasters. And all of those got over 100 comments because folks. love. lists.

That said, this list comes from Steven Lassan of Athlon Sports who took on the tall task of ranking all 130 (!!!) projected starting quarterbacks ahead of the 2019 season. And the latest Buckeye ball-thrower cracked the top-10.

8. Justin Fields, Ohio State

Not only does new coach Ryan Day have to maintain Ohio State’s dominance in the Big Ten, but the first-year coach also starts his career in Columbus having to replace a first-round pick at quarterback (Dwayne Haskins). However, Day’s quarterback room isn’t hurting for talent despite the transfers of Tate Martell and Matthew Baldwin this offseason. Fields signed with Georgia as a five-star prospect during the 2018 recruiting class and received playing time in 12 games. The Georgia native flashed potential in his limited snaps, completing 27 of 39 throws for 328 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for 266 yards and four scores on the ground. With Jake Fromm entrenched as the starter, Fields decided to transfer following the 2018 season. Talent certainly isn’t an issue for Fields. How quickly will Day get the sophomore playing up to his potential in 2019?

Eight is perfectly fine for a guy that's never started a college football team, especially considering the seven quarterbacks ahead of him include two national champions, two more runners up and a quarterback who was projected as the top quarterback in the draft if he would have declared this year.

If Fields' name is still among those at the end of the season, the Buckeyes will have done just fine.

 LEAVING HIS FIRST LOVE. Noted gigantic human Dawand Jones may be heading to Ohio State to play football, but his first love is basketball (and mine would be too if my size let me play the game like it's nerf ball with third graders).

But Jones knows with his rare size and mobility, he's probably best suited for a sport that involves people moving.

From Kyle Neddenriep of the Indianapolis Star:

There is no doubt about how much Jones loves basketball. “If you know Dawand, basketball is his first love,” Windham said. “He’d do anything for it. But we know how much money he is going make in football.”

And that’s the thing. There are those who believe Jones is capable being an NFL draft pick if he fulfills his potential at Ohio State. Saturday night was probably his final competitive basketball game, which Jones feeling a little nostalgic.

“I knew it was my last time getting out there so I wanted to have fun with it,” he said. “The thing I’ll probably miss the most is playing for Ben Davis. It was a joy. We built a brotherhood over there. It was amazing to be able to do what we did.”

Beyers had coached against Jones while at Warren Central (he’s now at Franklin Central). He also smiled when Jones’ name was mentioned.

“Dawand gives you everything he has,” Beyers said. “It’s for short periods of time. He keeps the team up and laughing and he’s a great personality -- a huge personality. He lightens the moment sometimes. Any team he would play on in any sport, I think he would help that team become a better team.”

The good news is, if football doesn't work, he'd be the most sought-after bouncer free agent in Columbus bar history.

 LJ SNUBBED. Folks, it's now time to be angry at a subjective list.

Brad Crawford of 247 Sports put together his top-10 assistant coaches in college football, and Larry Johnson – the top position coach in college football in this humble blogger's estimation – was nowhere to be found.

To make matters worse, the list featured Michigan's Don Brown – the engineer of the defense that just gave up 62 points to the Bucks – and former Buckeye coordinator Alex Grinch.

Normally, I'm not one to get all up in arms about someone's listed opinion, but this one is objectively incorrect. It's like leaving Yoda off a list of the top Jedi in Star Wars. There comes a point where "Well, it's my opinion!" doesn't really cut it anymore.

 $2 MIL ON DECK? The Buckeye alumni team begins it's fresh pursuit of $2 million in the winner-take-all TBT again this summer, and they're looking pretty solid once again.

Carmine Carcieri of ESPN has them as the No. 7 team in the entire 64-team field.

7. Carmen's Crew (Ohio State alumni), No. 1 seed (Columbus region)

Rebranded from Scarlet & Gray to Carmen's Crew, the Ohio State alumni return with high expectations. The 2017 semifinalists won't have Greg Oden or Jared Sullinger this summer, but energetic guard Aaron Craft and newly added Greek Basket League star Deshaun Thomas will anchor the former Buckeyes.

I'm still withholding hope that Jared Sullinger and William Buford are late additions, because I've seen enough games where Sullinger basically was Ohio State's offense and defense to know a deep run just ain't happening without him.

Adding Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Deshaun "The Greek (League) Freak" Thomas is certainly welcomed, though.

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