Skull Session: Jim Harbaugh's Insecurity is Showing, K.J. Hill Knew of Justin Fields' Transfer, and Ryan Day Preparing For Losses

By Kevin Harrish on July 19, 2019 at 4:59 am
Ryan Day sips his water in today's skull session.

The bad news is, we won't be hearing from anybody from Ohio State today. But the good news is, we will hear from Jim Harbaugh, and you can count me as fascinated to hear what he'll say regarding yesterday's jab at Urban Meyer.


Word of the Day: Foison.

 YOUR INSECURITY IS SHOWING. Apparently, when you can't beat a coach in four tries, you wait until he retires and then take unprovoked shots at his integrity on a national podcast.

I'm not sure if that's the Michigan Way™, but it sure is the Harbaugh way, as he took a not-so-subtle jab at the coach who's beaten him by an average of three scores for the past four years.

It was a bold as hell thing to say, especially for someone who's been fighting for even second-place since he got to the Big Ten.

From Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports:

Harbaugh doesn’t speak until Friday at Big Ten media days, but the buzz created by the remark serves as a reminder of the new reality of this post-Urban Big Ten. All eyes are on Harbaugh to see if he can finally deliver the product to match the bluster. If not this year, when?

With Meyer retired and off to television, Harbaugh reigns as the league’s most recognizable coach, identifiable star and tortured persona. Harbaugh enters the 2019 season with an 0-4 record against Ohio State, a streak of failure that’s ultimately defined his tenure and clearly crawled under his skin.

Harbaugh’s shot at Meyer underscores a bravado that hasn’t appeared for the Wolverines between the lines. Harbaugh has a 38-14 record at Michigan, and he’s done a fine job pulling the proud school back to baseline relevancy after the disastrous tenures of Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke. But entering his fifth season, Harbaugh’s tenure at Michigan is still more strongly tied to antics rather than accomplishments.


Entering the fifth year under Harbaugh, Michigan has made more headlines with buzzy quotes, foreign trips and recruiting sleepovers than any on-field victory. Each season, he’s managed to lose at least three games. Harbaugh’s win percentage at Michigan (73.1) is solid, but still ranks behind Gary Moeller (75.8), Lloyd Carr (75.3), Fritz Crisler (80.6), Fielding Yost (83.3) and Bo Schembechler (79.6). While he’s admirably pulled Michigan from mediocrity, the glory days have yet to surface

To me, the quote reeked of insecurity.

Harbaugh is rationalizing his obvious failures to his elitist fanbase by explaining that even if he sucks at his job, at least he's doing it the right way, unlike the guy that they've watched kick his ass for four years.

Even if his criticism was true – and that's certainly up for debate – that's really beside the point. You don't take unsolicited shots at a departed head coach who ran you and your team as long as he was in Columbus unless you're feeling desperate.

All I know is that if he doesn't beat Ohio State this year, at home against a first-year head coach, a first year quarterback and two of his former assistants, he may as well just pack his bags and head for Columbus as well. Maybe he can coach the Destroyers.

 K.J. KNEW. Turns out, the "Justin Fields to Ohio State" rumor was true well before it happened, as was the "Tate Martell transfer" rumor, despite what he may have said in the locker room before and after the game.

At Big Ten Media Days, K.J. Hill explained that he was one of the first to learn about Ohio State's quarterback situation after he sat down with Ryan Day in California to determine whether he would declare for the NFL Draft.

And from the sounds of it, he was planning to leave if Fields wasn't coming.

Here's the quote, courtesy of my good pal Dan Hope, my esteemed colleague who is better than me at everything except eating spicy food:

“I kind of knew before anybody. Coach Day told me when we were in California because I had a decision to make. I told him I needed to know what the quarterback situation was. Do I need to leave with Dwayne or if I wanted to stay would I have a quarterback. Because there was talks about Tate (Martell) transferring and all of this stuff and I just didn’t know what it was.”

There's a lot you can take away from this, but I think the biggest for me is that K.J. Hill was confident enough in Justin Fields' talent to bet his future on it and postpone a chance to make millions of dollars.

That doesn't mean Fields is going to come in on day one and light it up like Dwayne Haskins without the team missing a beat, but it does mean at least some folks on team was pretty damn excited about adding him to the lineup.

 LET'S TALK ABOUT THE L WORD. The haters are telling me that Ryan Day's going to lose a game at some point. I know, I know – it sounds like utter nonsense that we need not worry ourselves with, but because Our Dear Leader is wise, he has prepared for it.

Do not fear.

From Doug Lesmerises of

“It’s one of those things you have to think about and have a plan for,” Day said at the end of his own long answer. “You can’t just drive with no brakes and think that everything is going to go great, and the minute something goes bad, you fall apart. You can’t do that, because I’m in this thing for the long haul, and I know our staff is, too.”


“The expectations are so high here, if you don’t win them all, the minute you lose you can’t just come crumbling and fall apart,” Day said. “And to our credit, last year we lost that bad game (at Purdue), but we were able to fight ourselves out of it. And it was ugly. But we kind of clawed back out of it and had an unbelievable season.”

That ended with a 13-1 record, a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl win.

A similarly unbelievable season may be ahead. But aside from Meyer’s unmatchable 12-0 debut in 2012, almost every OSU coach has lost some in Year 1. Jim Tressel was 7-5. John Cooper was 4-6-1. Woody Hayes was 4-3-2. Day’s closest comparison may be to Earle Bruce, as both followed a legend who left for reasons other than on-field performance. Tressel and Cooper took over programs in trouble. Bruce and Day were better positioned to win.

Bruce went 11-1. Maybe Day will as well. But, in my mind, everyone needs to check those brakes. It’d be unwise and unfair not to.

Most coaches don't go 12-0 or even 11-1 in their first season as a head coach with a first-time starter at quarterback – I get that.

But most coaches also don't put together the No. 2 recruiting class in the country and recruit one of the most talented offenses of all-time in their first try, or pull in the highest-rated quarterback prospect in program history to replace the best passer in program history (which he developed).

Yeah, maybe Ohio State loses a few in 2019, but Day's exceeded expectations everywhere else so far, why would anyone be shocked if he overachieves again once the season starts?

 BEWARE JOEY FRESHWATER. For some reason, I don't think we've talked anywhere near enough about how hilarious it is that Ohio State is opening the season against Joey Freshwater himself.

But regardless, he's ready.

Not going to lie, a Lane Kiffin offense against last season's Ohio State defense scares the absolute hell out of me just a little bit, but we're going to be optimistic and hope the defense is actually fixed. I really think we're gonna find out one way or the other really quick on that front, which isn't a bad thing.

And if The Fighting Lane Kiffins are going to light up the Buckeyes, they're going to have to do it without Florida State transfer Deondre Francois.

 NAME THE 90s. I just watched Justin Fields tell the camera that the AOL logo looked like a street sign and if I have to feel every bit if my 25 years on this Earth y'all are going to share the pain too.

Fields, Taron Vincent, Tyreke Johnson, Cade Stover and Sevyn Banks all tried their hand at naming some 90s things, and "tried" is very clearly the important word here.

I inhaled to capacity when Fields responded to a photo of Eddie George with "That's, um..." but thank God he knew and I did not have to throw my laptop out the window.

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