Skull Session: Justin Fields Ranked Among Other Quarterbacks, Jim Harbaugh and Luke Fickell Continue to Wage War, and Ohio State Gets Clowned On

By Kevin Harrish on August 15, 2019 at 4:59 am
Justin Fields is almost Ohio State's starting quarterback in today's skull session.
Ohio State Athletics

Ryan Day said he plans to make the quarterback decision on Monday and we're all on pins and needles.

If I were a betting man, I'd place all my chips on the guy that the head coach says has taken almost every first-team rep in practice. But who's to say? Anything could happen.


Word of the Day: Moxie.

 BUT WILL HE START? Ranking 130 FBS starting quarterbacks is one hell of an undertaking, but the offseason #content rules dictate that someone's gotta do it. So Pro Football Focus stepped on up and gave it their best shot.

Using stats from last season, they project Justin Fields will be Ohio State's starting quarterback (!!!) and rank him as the No. 16 quarterback in the country heading into the season.

From Pro Football Focus:


Fields logged 173 snaps as a true freshman last season at UGA but transferred for greener pastures in Columbus after the departure of Dwayne Haskins to the NFL. Fields finished with an elite grade of 90.1, albeit on a small sample size, in the SEC, showcasing his ability mainly against lesser competition behind Jake Fromm. Still, he completed 70.0% of his passes and didn’t make any costly mistakes by way of interceptions in the passing game, showing he’s not just a runner, he’s a more-than-capable thrower.

(Editor's Note: Let it be known that Justin Fields' completion percentage was actually a shade above 69 percent, not a full 70 percent as PFF suggests)

Using only historical data to make this list seems disastrously flawed when you're working with college players since the entire sport changes every season and almost entirely resets every two or three years, but hey, we'll ride with it.

I mean, at least this formula didn't spit out Alex Hornibrook as the top quarterback. Shit, they don't even project him to start at Florida State! We're making real progress here.

 HARBAUGH VS. FICKELL. I don't know how long this Luke Fickell vs. Jim Harbaugh beef is going to last, but it's getting me through the last portion of the offseason right now, so I wouldn't complain about a few more weeks.

Yesterday, Harbaugh offered his rebuttal to the article from The Athletic I linked yesterday (where Fickell ethered both Jim Harbaugh and Michigan). We had to wait an extra day, but Fickell fired back.

Here's what he had to say, via Fletcher Page of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

"We had a couple kids (get hurt) yesterday and I spent time with them, spent time talking with their families," Fickell said. "That, to me, was more important than what Jim Harbaugh had to say about us and our program or me in general. But I know where we stand. I know that James Hudson has done a lot of things and it’s a shame, and I know guys can get eligible... It has a lot to do with the programs they’re coming from. That is what it is, and if we’re not going to get any help from them – which we didn’t, James didn’t – then it’s pretty much a moot point." 


"There’s a reason why I called," Fickell said. "Just like I called Coach Day at Ohio State and Coach Saban at Alabama. I did nothing different than what I did with those guys and the results are different," with Hudson and Michigan. 


"I’ve got notes if you want them," he said. "Nothing more than asking, 'hey, what’s your stance on James? Are you going to help the kid?'

"It wasn’t like pleasant or anything. It was kind of cold. It was short. It wasn’t a long conversation. It wasn’t hard to figure out what their stance was. They supposedly weren’t going to hold (Hudson's waiver) up but they weren’t going to help him."


"We saw how it works with coach Day at Ohio State and how they helped Blue Smith out, to be honest with you," Fickell said. "So, whether people know a lot about that, they wanted to help the kid. They didn’t want to lose him, but they wanted to help him. They did stuff to help make him eligible here and gave him an opportunity to be eligible."

After talking this over with several folks, I've decided that the crux of this entire debacle is a clash of extremely strong and very different personalities.

Fickell isn't saying Michigan is blocking or objecting to Hudson's waiver, he's just saying they aren't going out of their way to help him like Alabama and Ohio State did in similar situations. In his mind, that's a thing a normal human being would do and if Michigan doesn't do it, they're in the wrong. Harbaugh – being far from a normal human – cannot possibly comprehend that point of view.

Anyway, I'm praying this ends with either Michigan and Cincinnati meeting in a postseason bowl game, or Harbaugh and Fickell meeting in a combat ring of some fashion.

Admittedly, I have strong preference to the latter because Fickell would fold Harbaugh like a pretzel and stuff him in a trashcan if given the opportunity. The dude went a perfect 108-0 in high school wrestling, including this 54-second pin in the state title match.

Granted, Harbaugh would absolutely show up with a barbed-wire bat, seeing no difference between WWE and any other combat sport. But Fickell would still break him in half.

 BUCKEYES REPRESENT. The football team won't be the only Buckeyes doing some things on Labor Day weekend.

A pair of young former Ohio State tennis stars each punched their ticket to the US Open draw – JJ Wolf on the men's side and Francesca Di Lorenzo on the women's

Sometimes, I feel I have been lapped in life. These individuals arrived at Ohio State after I did, and I've since seen them dominate in college and now the professional ranks while I continue to type about them on my keyboard.

 JACOB JARVIS MAKES A FAN'S DAY. Mike Vrabel's Tennessee turnaround is going so well he's got proper celebrities strolling on in to check the progress.

The Titans have 70/1 odds to win the Super Bowl this season and I suggest you pound the shit out of that bet if they've got Jacob Jarvis leading the bandwagon.

 THE. Ohio State is currently trying to trademark the most common word in the English language, which I assume is Ohio State's branding department's iteration of a heat check.

I personally don't give a damn about this and won't be wearing the shirts regardless, but the meltdown this has caused has been one of the most delightful things to happen online since Soulja Boy followed me on Twitter.

Here is my grandfather, Luke Zimmerman, perfectly expressing my feelings on the matter while quoting an extremely on-brand (and also good!) Tweet from my father, D.J. Byrnes:

Naturally, other institutions had to have their fun at Ohio State's "expense" (as if a university elitist enough to literally try trademarking the word "The" is all that concerned about what others think – lions and sheep, folks).

Some were low effort and subpar:

 But some were admittedly pretty good:

I can't stand by and pretend this wasn't a clever. If only Michigan could put these same creative minds toward crafting a game plan that can win a rivalry game more often than once every 15 years...

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. Virtual reality and robotic tackling dummies – how Dartmouth is shaping the future of football...  A tiny Alaskan island faces a threat as deadly as an oil spill — rats... The story of the very first thing securely sold online... The fashion line designed to trick surveillance cameras... A human-sized penguin once lived in New Zealand... Facebook paid contractors to transcribe Messenger calls...

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