Skull Session: Luke Fickell Fired Up to Play Ohio State, Reliving Jonah Jackson's Takedowns, and Looking at Joe Burrow and Tom Herman's Relationship

By Kevin Harrish on September 4, 2019 at 4:59 am
Ryan Day is all business in today's skull session.

It's game poster day, y'all. And let me tell you, Walt whipped up another banger.

2:15 p.m. Be here.


Word of the Day: Cantankerous.

 BROTHER VS. BROTHER. Luke Fickell's Buckeye blood runs thicker than anyone reading these online words, and that's going to make Saturday's game weird enough that he and Urban Meyer initially talked about trying to get it canceled.

That obviously didn't happen, and it's just a tad too late at this point, so Fickell's just going to have to settle for trying to beat his alma mater – in the most loving way possible.

From Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch:

“When I first got the (UC) job, I remember talking to coach (Meyer), and we had said something about, ‘We ought to probably get out of this,’” Fickell said. “It’s not always an easy thing for either side — not just that you’re in-state, but even (regarding) relationships. That was a thought at one time.”

But neither he nor Meyer pushed to get out of the game, so it remained. No Ohio team has beaten the Buckeyes since 1921. But the Bearcats, coming off an 11-win season and opening-week victory over UCLA, have a legitimate chance.


As for what it means to him, he likened it to competing with a brother.

“There’s nobody I would be more fired up to play,” he said. “I look at it like that. But what I can’t do is allow my emotions to (take over). We have to focus on the things we need to do to be successful.”

I remember the last time the Bearcats rolled up I-71 from Kentucky, my good pal (NAME REDACTED BECAUSE HE'S NOW IN MEDICAL SCHOOL DOING REAL THINGS WITH HIS LIFE WHILE I CONTINUE TO BLOG ONLINE) shredded their fanbase in his fake publication and ignited an online war of words.

I don't even remember what he said, and it's now lost forever because he spent all his money on Star Wars Legos and neglected to pay the hosting fees, but it certainly made far, far too many people far, far too angry.

Here's some remaining evidence on our forum, as well as the original Tweet:

(EDIT: Thanks to the magic of the Internet and Twitter user @Ditty, here is the Smack Talk)

It escalated to the point that it was the most hate-filled non-Michigan game week I experienced on campus in five years (sorry, Penn State).

Once riled, their fans were somehow the most unbearable, least self-aware, most delusional individuals with the largest inferiority complexes I've ever come across online (sorry, Tennessee fans). I vividly remember some blog suggesting that Gunner Kiel was better than Braxton Miller or J.T. Barrett because he was "actually a five star."

What I'm getting at is that back then, I wanted my juggernaut of a football team to crush their intramural-looking squad like a kid squishing ants with sidewalk chalk, and I wanted their fans, players and coaches to truck back to Kentucky demoralized beyond recovery as they passed that southbound sign that so aptly reads "HELL IS REAL."

This time, I feel none of that!

I respect the hell out of Luke Fickell and think Cincinnati is a genuinely good team with a legitimate shot to beat Ohio State. I hope Fickell and Marcus Freeman enjoy their homecoming, I hope the Bearcat fans enjoy their game day experience, and I hope former Buckeye Blue Smith gets to play against some of his former teammates.

It's truly just a shame that one of these teams has to lose (But it's absolutely going to be them. By at least three touchdowns).

 BULLYING, BUT GOOD! I normally do not condone bullying, but when an offensive lineman on my favorite sports team is the one doing the bullying, it switches from pretty bad to extremely good.

Jonah Jackson is my favorite bully.

From my pal Tony Gerdeman of The Ozone:

Jackson graded out a Champion in his first career game with the Buckeyes, leading the team with nine knockdowns. The knockdowns are apparently a career high.

“I think that might take the cake for most knocked downs,” Jackson said on Tuesday. “But you know, I still made some mistakes here and there. And there’s things I gotta fix for sure in there. If there’s one thing I like to hang my hat on, that’s being nasty and finishing. So that’s something I wanted to make sure I did in the game.”

Finishing isn’t something that Jackson has to focus too much on. It’s basically second nature to him now. It’s also a great lesson for the rest of his teammates.

“That’s what we celebrate together,” Studrawa said. “You know, we close the doors. And we celebrate those kind of things together. Because that’s the extra effort. That’s the one thing — understand the culture of the program and what we asked them to do — go hard, go hard, period. If you make a mistake, or you don’t understand something, blame me, that’s my fault. But I’m not going to tell you to go hard. And that’s the one thing that that kid does.

Gerd did the magnanimous work of compiling all (probably) of Saturday's instances of Jackson's legalized battery. You can and should click here to look at Jackson's full mix tape of destruction, but here is a sample of my favorite mean moment:

Folks, that's what we call "playing to through the whistle."

 A DAMN STRANGE TIMELINE. College football has a way of organically creating storylines even my twisted brain isn't weird enough to concoct, and one of them is this weekend's matchup between Joe Burrow at LSU and Tom Herman at Texas.

Tom Herman never coached Joey B in Columbus because he left for Houston before he arrived, but Herman is probably the only reason Burrow ever came to Ohio State after he basically begged Urban Meyer to sign him.

From Brody Miller of The Athletic ($):


Meyer kept sending Herman all over the country to look at higher-ranked quarterbacks, as he wasn’t sure about Burrow. Herman kept telling the Burrow family, “Be patient.”


After nearly two months of waiting, more schools started to check out Burrow’s throwing sessions and the Burrows were getting nervous. Other schools they liked were starting to take other quarterbacks. Spots were dwindling. One week, Alabama and Tennessee went to see him.

Right around then, Meyer called to offer Burrow a scholarship. He didn’t commit immediately, though. He hung up, took a few tries to get in touch with his father and his mother, Robin, and eventually talked it over with them. He called Meyer back to commit. Meyer liked to joke with Burrow, “It took you 10 minutes to call me back.” Because of his relationship with Herman, he knew he wanted to play in Columbus.

But Meyer still hadn’t fully bought in. Two weeks later, he asked Burrow to attend Ohio State’s camp. He said Burrow still had a scholarship offer and that he wanted to work with him more, but in reality, he needed to see him throw.

Burrow agreed and attended the camp. There, Jimmy Burrow looked over to the coaches as his son finished throwing and saw Meyer give Herman a thumbs-up to signify his approval. Herman walked up to Jimmy after and said, “You have no idea how nervous I was.”

Herman fought like hell to convince Urban Meyer to take Burrow at Ohio State, then Herman left for Houston before Burrow signed with Ohio State. Burrow then met with Meyer and Tim Beck and decided to sign with the Buckeyes anyway.

About four years, later Meyer is no longer coaching football and Burrow is at LSU about to take on both Herman and Beck at Texas.

What a strange-ass sport we care about.

At any rate, I can't wait to crown Joe Burrow a top-10 quarterback in Ohio State history when he dumps Tom Herman and Nick Saban in the same season.

 ZEKE (ALMOST) BACK! It's looking like Ezekiel Elliott could have a new contract in time for opening week after all. The former Buckeye ball-carrier is back Dallas, and both sides are reportedly close to a deal.

Related: Dirk is a national treasure.

Adjust your fantasy lineups accordingly!

 A NEW COOL THING. Sports keep getting nerdier and I'm all for it. The latest example is this extremely fun and good thing ESPN is working on which essentially tracks player movement.

Also, their example includes Ohio State, so I'm contractually obligated to share it with you, probably.

I'm not going to pretend to know exactly how it all works, but I can see many applications for it if they can get it to work.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. Out of the factory of sadness... Police spend years searching for serial rapist, end up employing suspect accidentally... We could save up to 30 percent of food waste by changing expiration dates... Drug addict stormed into an associate's home dressed as cop screaming "This is a raid, where's the drugs?"... The little known story of the Ponzi scheme... Vegan sues neighbors for barbecuing in their own back yard...

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