Skull Session: Ryan Day's Natural Leadership, Don Brown Says Michigan is Hitting Its Stride, and How Ohio State Made Joe Burrow Mentally Tough

By Kevin Harrish on November 7, 2019 at 4:59 am
Ryan Day is here in today's skull session.

Folks, basketball season is officially back.

If you want to drink some delicious tears on this delightful Thursday morning, just click on that Tweet and scroll through the comments from some ever-pleasant Bearcats fans.


Word of the Day: Mirthful.

 THE NATURAL. Sometimes, I'm just in awe at how damn good Ryan Day is at this, even as just a first year head coach.

He's always had the practical stuff – the football genius, the play calling, the game planning, the in-game adjustments, and even the knack for teaching – but that's like, 5 percent of what a head coach does. And he's still absolutely nailing the other 95 percent.

He's owning the recruiting field, he's made what are turning out to be incredible hires, his coachspeak and ability to say absolutely nothing while talking for 30 minutes a during press conferences is already at an elite level, he represents the program well off the field, and he can do this:

That's not a timid, demure first-year head coach, that's a strong and passionate leader teaching his kids vital lessons that at their core have almost nothing to do with football. And based on their eyes, they're locked the hell in.

Folks, Ryan Day is as elite as it gets.

 “THEY BETTER BE CAREFUL.” Look out y'all, Michigan is feeling a little frisky after winning a couple football games in a row and knowing they can't possibly lose this week.

From Clayton Sayfie of TheWolverine:

U-M is currently on a bye week and has Michigan State, Indiana and Ohio State remaining on the regular season schedule. The Wolverines fell 62-39 to OSU last season, and Brown was asked what his defense needs to do to compete with the Buckeyes come Nov. 30.

"I think we just need to stay true to form," Brown said. "I think we’ve done a good job of giving our guys stuff on a week to week basis where they’re probably wondering, ‘Why are we practicing this play? Why are we practicing that play?’ So, we’ve done a good job of keeping their hands in it without really telling them their hands are in it. But, they know.

"It’s another year, it’s a different group. They better be careful now because we’re hitting our stride too. This is a two-way street, and I know our guys will be ready in three weeks."

I just want to say, I called the shit out of this as soon as Michigan beat Notre Dame. The Wolverines were always, absolutely going to win the rest of their games and find themselves in the top-10 with wayyyyyyy too much confidence heading into The Game.

But they may well be quite a bit ahead of schedule.

"They better be careful now because we’re hitting our stride too. This is a two-way street..."

The smugness just radiates from that quote, it's unbelievable. They string together half a game against Penn State, beat the paperiest of paper tigers in Notre Dame and play a deceptively close game against Maryland and you'd think they were the '72 Dolphins now.

Maybe you are hitting your stride – I'll buy that. But it's in the same way that a 350-pound fellow with a blown out knee also has a maximum speed – it doesn't mean he's ever going to hang with an olympic sprinter.

Though I do find it interesting that after years of having their asses kicked by a team that practices for The Game a little bit the entire season, Michigan is finally trying to do the same thing. The problem is that's not really a great equalizer if a) the team your chasing has already been doing that for years and b) is decidedly better than you.

 THE LEGEND OF JOHN BURROW. For most of his days at Ohio State, Joey Burrow went by a different name, courtesy of J.T. Barrett: "John."

John Burrow never played a meaningful snap at Ohio State, but his three years developing and becoming mentally tough within the program helped prepare him to become the Heisman candidate he is now – even if he didn't always love every second of it.

From Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports:

“It wasn’t my favorite thing,” Joe Burrow said with a chuckle in a phone interview on Monday. “I thought I’d get a cooler nickname.”

His whole freshman year followed that same unpleasant path, as Joe Burrow swallowed the realization of how much better he needed to get while experiencing daily the wrong end of rites of passage. Jones said it wasn’t uncommon for Burrow to answer something in a meeting and for him to cut him off: “Hey John, shut the f - - - up.”

Burrow later confessed to Beck a pithy summary of his freshman year: “I hated all you guys.”


“That first year is hard, realizing that you’re not as good as you thought you were,” said Barrett, relating to his own struggles. “Then being told on top of that you’re awful. Coach Meyer puts a lot of pressure on quarterbacks to be great and test how tough you are. To be his quarterback, you have to be a tough guy.”

Barrett recalls a day when Meyer chided Burrow by saying he should be at Division-III Mount Union. He tried to cheer up Burrow, recalling this exchange:

Barrett: Don’t worry about it. I had Sam Houston State my freshman year. Don’t worry about it.

Burrow: Damn, I couldn’t even get FCS.

Barrett: I don’t know what to say about that. I don’t have words for that.

Joe (he's got his old name back) not only survived the barbs and ridicule and mocking, he was "super appreciative" of it and remains close with all of the mockers and ridiculers, even if he's wearing a different uniform.

The whole piece is a fantastic read and focuses mostly on Joe's time in Columbus, complete with some of the most Cardale Jones quotes possible.

For example: “His give-a-sh- - factor for not giving a sh- - about that was at an all-time high at a young age.”

J.T. Barrett and Urban Meyer also had some pleasant things to say about Joey B, albeit a bit less colorful.

 KYLE YOUNG'S BIG DAY. Kyle Young had the game of his life on Wednesday night, finishing with 14 points and 13 rebounds for his first career double-double, and it came on an especially thankful night – his late father's birthday.

Shoutout to Young for putting his team on his back for much of the first half (he had the team's first like, six points) with a performance Pops would be nothing but proud of.

 NOT STOCKING TO SPORTS. The Japanese rice omelet that rewired my brain... A 92-year-old meets the family she rescued from the Nazis as a teen... How a detective realized his murder suspect was a serial killer... Exploring Japan's spectacular "snow monsters"... A science vigilante calls out bogus results in prestigious journals... The strange second life of Ohio's "Big Basket" building...

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