Skull Session: Urban Meyer Won't Say Michigan, Damon Arnette Talks Coaching Changes, and Ryan Day's Open Door Policy

By Kevin Harrish on August 29, 2019 at 4:59 am
Ryan Day is calling plays in today's Skull Session.
Ohio State Athletics

College football will be on television for the next five days.

We did it. We've made it.


Word of the Day: Passably.

 “NOT GONNA HAPPEN.” If you've been waiting around to see if Urban Meyer would use that forbidden word on TV, you may be waiting a while.

Based on this promo from Fox Sports, it seems the legendary Buckeye coach has no intention of ever referring to his rival by name – even in retirement.

The underrated part of this ad is that Fox Sports is cool enough with one of their analysts openly disrespecting Michigan – a major team with an enormous fanbase – that they're willing to put it in their season promo.

Moral of the story: trashing Michigan is fine enough that we're sure it will convince people to watch our show!

Imagine if the script were flipped and  ESPN ran a promo that included Desmond Howard shitting on Ohio State. There would be a 300-comment thread on this website in under an hour.

 TRUST THE PROCESS. After all-but deciding to turn pro after last season, it switched and Damon Arnette's back for one final ride with the Buckeyes.

The reason – the defensive coaching overhaul. More specifically, the subtraction of last year's staff and the addition of Jeff Hafley.

From my pal Bill Landis of The Athletic ($):

“I told him the truth,” Hafley said. “I told him what we could do for him. I told him what I think he needed. I told him I watched his tape. I told him what I thought he could work on. I told him I’d have his back if he did everything. I was honest with him. That’s it. I didn’t sell him anything. I didn’t promise him anything. I just told him the truth, and he made the decision to come back. I’m glad he did.”

Why did Arnette, with one foot out the door, react so strongly to the words of a man he had just met?

“Because of what’s happening now,” he said last week. “I saw it when I was in that office. I saw everything that’s happening now.”


“I didn’t always get along with the coaches last year,” Arnette said. “I had my fair share of issues. When Kerry Coombs left, he was somebody who always had my back no matter what I went through. After he left, I didn’t have that love for any other coaches in the building like that. It just wasn’t there, and I checked out early. I just didn’t want to play for them no more.”

Hey, it looks like Damon Arnette and his haters have finally found some common ground: they agree that last year's defensive staff was ass!

I know Arnette hasn't been perfect, but there's a reason why he's appeared in every game since his redshirt freshman season and there's a reason why the coaching staff wanted him back this year. My always unsolicited #take is that he proves a lot of people wrong this year.

Also, I can't tell you the last time I've heard people talk about an Ohio State coach the way players and prospects talk about Jeff Hafley. I mean, Arnette had never even met the guy and had his mind made up that he was leaving. Then one conversation with him changed his entire life's trajectory.

Just Venables him. Please.

 “IT'S THE PROGRAM'S.” Ryan Day's made a point not to change too much about the Ohio State football program that Urban Meyer built in the seven years he was in Columbus, because it was extremely unbroken.

But Day and Meyer are fundamentally different people, so some things are definitely going to feel a bit different with a new guy at the helm. We might not notice, but the players sure do.

From Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press:

“I have a certain security about me that I’m not going to change just to say it’s mine. You know, it’s not,” Day said a couple days after moving back into his renovated office. “It’s Ohio State’s. It’s the program’s.”

But make no mistake: There is a different vibe around the fifth-ranked Buckeyes as they enter the first season without Meyer and it emanates from the 40-year-old Day.

“He has a totally different approach,” junior tight Jake Hausmann said. “I think he wants players to be more open to coming up to him and asking questions that players would feel comfortable asking. He just redid his office and he was saying that this is your guys’ place. I want you guys to come in here and feel comfortable.”

My vibe is that Day is more approachable and personal where Meyer is more intense, regimented and deliberate.

I don't think there's a right and wrong there, but I can tell you that Day's personality has already paid off for the Buckeyes on the recruiting trail for at least one vital prospect who probably would not be here otherwise.

Sometimes, a little change is good.

 FIRST LADY SPEAKS. Folks, there's a new first lady of Buckeye football.

Just Urban Meyer's passing his whistle to Ryan Day, Shelley Meyer is passing her temporary cheek tattoos to Nina Day. And like her husband, she ready.

From Maria Durant of ABC 6:

"By nature, I’m a very private person. It does give me anxiety to be in the limelight for the attention to be on me, not so much Ryan. He can handle it, but for me and the kids, it’s a little different, " she said. "I do know that I have a new role and I just can't hide in my house and pretend this is not all happening. So, I'm getting better at it."


She says Ryan has a loving, even keeled personality that he also shares with his players. But make no mistake about it - she says Ryan knows how to bring on the intensity. "He's not a yeller or a screamer, he's a very good listener, but he is intense. And he's very focused. You know when he says something you better listen." She says the family is anxious for the first game to get started. And wants Buckeye Nation to know just how grateful they are:

"I don't know any other place that compares to this place. This place is very, very special, and we knew it, the minute we got here."

Nina Day won my respect when I heard that she once questioned her husband's play calling in his Boston College days. Apparently, she wanted to know why her husband insisted on running the ball on third-and-long.

Ryan Day didn't seem to love getting second-guessed by his wife in the middle of a game, but honestly, she's got a damn good point. Why were you running the ball on third-and-long, Ryan? And do you plan to employ that strategy again?

 ELITE TALENT EVALUATOR. Florida Atlantic doesn't get a lot of four or five-star prospects, so they've gotta be a little more creative with where they get their talent.

Sometimes that means lower-rated players, sometimes that means junior college players, sometimes that means transfers from other programs.

And sometimes, it means...

If this says anything about Lane Kiffin's ability to evaluate talent, perhaps we should be more afraid of Saturday than I though.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. What happens when you don't pay hospital bills... A 50-year-old dog walker retired after making over $1 million... The U.S. military is urgently seeking an enormous underground complex for undisclosed experiments... TSA bans Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge "thermal detonator" Coke bottles from checked and carry-on luggage... The potential detection of a black hole so big it "should not exist"... 

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