Skull Session: J.K. Dobbins Overcomes Adversity, Gene Smith Talks Image and Likeness Bill, and Justin Fields Had a Tough Adjustment to Ohio State

By Kevin Harrish on September 27, 2019 at 4:59 am
Chase Young is rocking the stunner shades in today's skull session.

Fantastic news – Ohio State will be spared another blackout game on the road. The Huskers won't be rolling out their Blackshirt uniforms.

It seems they're saving the extra juice for a game where it might actually make a difference in the outcome, which is entirely understandable. No sense in wearing black to your own funeral.


Word of the Day: Claptrap.

 GO GET IT, COME BACK WITH IT. I've been a massive J.K. Dobbins fan since well before he even stepped foot on Ohio State's campus (ironically, he was also a Buckeye commit long before he even stepped foot on Ohio State's campus), but I had no idea what he and his family went through in their personal lives.

Folks, he's a battler.

I love that his mom didn't even know he was going to start, then he went ahead and rattled off 205 all-purpose yards in his first collegiate football game.

Shoutout to Dobbins for all he's overcome to get to this point. He's earned it all and absolutely worked his ass off. You certainly don't get this far by accident.

 TIMES A CHANGIN'. We're just a signature away from a drastic change in college athletics with a California bill that would allow college athletes in the state to make money from their name, image and likeness.

If it happens, we're gonna feel the ripples a long, long way. Gene Smith thinks it will even result in California schools getting booted from the NCAA.

From Steve Berkowitz of USA TODAY:

Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith, who is co-chairing the working group, told USA TODAY Sports this week that if Newsom signs the bill, the uncertainty surrounding a potential difference between California law and NCAA rules would prompt him – for now -- not to schedule games against California schools for dates after Jan. 1, 2023, because he does not see how they could remain NCAA members unless differences between the law and the NCAA’s rules can be resolved.


“If the California law goes into effect in ’23,” Smith said Tuesday, “and let’s say the NCAA legislation, how ever it emerges, doesn’t quite meet what California wants it to be and they continue to hold that law, who’s going to play (California schools)? We’re certainly not. They won’t be members of the NCAA. I think that’s going to be the problem."

Smith said that if Newsom signs the bill, schools in California are "going to have a model where they can almost pay for play – not quite – but I think they’re going to be challenged to maintain their membership in the association because, as an association, we have the authority as a group to make our own rules and regulations, and they will be outside those rules and regulations. So, I’m not quite sure how they will stay in the association."

The ironic angle to Gene's comments – especially the ones about not scheduling California teams – is that Ohio State just scheduled a 2023 matchup with San Jose State like three weeks ago. So uh, I think we'll just be figuring something out there.

As for the law itself, I ain't going to tell you how to think, but I will say it'll be a disaster if one single state makes this move all by its lonesome. Regardless of where you land on the pay for play/likeness debate, that ain't gonna work for obvious reasons. Whatever the ultimate decision is, it's gotta be universal.

 THE NEW GUY. It's easy to forget that just a few months ago, the kid currently putting up video game numbers and leading the Buckeyes to four blowout wins was just a scared kid who didn't know a soul on campus (besides the quarterback that he was replacing).

From Ryan McGee of ESPN:

It was January 2019. It was cold. He knew no one. His parents had dropped him off the day before and driven back home to Atlanta. He couldn't peek in on his social media accounts because his timelines were still freshly filled with a lot of unkind comments from fans of Georgia, the team he'd just left and the uniform he'd just worn at the Sugar Bowl a few days earlier. So he did what teenagers do. He called home and made a little noise about packing up what he'd just unpacked and carrying it all back south.

But his family told him to give it another day. He did, and that day was much better. Some of his new Buckeyes teammates invited him to play basketball, and he had a pretty good time.

The next day brought more basketball and more smiles. Every flip of the calendar page brought another pickup game, another smile and another new friend. Among them was Ohio State's in-house leader, defensive end Chase Young, who threw his massive arms around the new guy and challenged him to be the leader on the offensive side of the ball, to be the guy all of his new teammates had seen flashes of on their TVs and read about back when they were all being recruited.

Eventually, the quarterback joined Young and the others for his first real workouts and film sessions. One by one, he won the Buckeyes over, even those who'd given him the cold shoulder in the QB meeting room. It all took place in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, the building with the lobby packed with seven Heismans, eight national championship trophies, and too many NFL jerseys and headshots of NFL draft picks to count. In January, the residents of the Horseshoe were asking, "Who is this guy from Georgia?" Now they are wondering how many awards he might add to that collection.

Ironically enough, the whole article is about Fields making business decisions that aren't personal or emotional, but my biggest takeaway was that college football players are young human beings, not just players with overall ratings that you add to your roster in a video game.

Yeah, Ohio State added the highest-rated prospect in program history, but there's a human element there too that kinda just got glossed over in the excitement.

For example, while I was busy hyping Fields as an awesome Frankenstein monster of Terrelle Pryor, J.T. Barrett, Braxton Miller and Dwayne Haskins who was going to lead the Buckeyes to national titles (hell yeah I meant pluralize that), I'd never actually considered how lonely a January transfer would be for a player.

Yeah, incoming freshmen are new as well, but recruiting classes are built over years, and those players arrive with established relationships with each other, the coaches and most of the time even some older players. Fields had none of that.

The good news is, it sounds like his teammates brought him in quickly, and to be honest, I'm mighty jealous I didn't have Chase Young showing me around my first days on campus.

 NICK BOSA – UNBLOCKABLE. Just three games into his NFL career, after not playing competitive football since his injury against TCU, Nick Bosa is the best pass rusher in the league.

From Brian Witt of NBC Sports:

Believe it or not, three games into his NFL career, Bosa has graded out as the top pass rusher in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.

Bosa, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, has registered a 14.0 pass-rushing productivity grade, PFF's formula that places an emphasis on total pressures per pass-rushing snap. That 14.0 grade ranks as the best of all NFL edge rushers, and the top five consists of some standout company with 21.5 sacks between them.


Bosa has been improving on a game-by-game basis, and he's coming off his best performance yet in which he led San Francisco with seven pressures of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, the highest total of any 49er during Kyle Shanahan's tenure as head coach. This has all come after an offseason in which Bosa was significantly limited due to injury, but with San Francisco now enjoying its bye week, he believes he'll finally be at full strength coming out of it.

If Bosa is the most effective pass-rusher in the NFL at less than full strength -- three games into his career, no less -- just imagine what he'll be capable of moving forward.

I'll never forgive the universe for taking a full season of Nick Bosa and Chase Young killing quarterbacks in tandem, but maybe it's for the best because I'm quite certain Buckeye football games would have been slapped with R ratings towards the end of the season.

Unrelated, Bosa may be the most effective pass rusher in the NFL, but he ain't even the highest-graded rookie, thanks to Terry McLaurin.

Based on how this has been going the past few years, I've got a hunch a crystal ball of next year's NFL season includes some Chase Young and Jeff Okudah domination.

 GUEST PICKER, GREAT JERSEY. Folks, it seems the corn people have found their champion – UCLA alum Gabrielle Union.

I don't have much Gabrielle Union slander to spew, but I do find it kind of hilarious that they felt the need to outsource their guest picker from UCLA.

Then again, finding a famous and successful person with Nebraska ties who actually stayed in the state might be impossible. Hell, that even rules out Larry the Cable Guy.

Although I must say, she appears to be making an absolutely perfect, and extremely classy jersey choice for the big day.

You have my respect, Ms. Union, but my team will still light your team on fire Saturday night.

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