Skull Session: Damon Arnette is Lockdown in Single Coverage, Spring Athletes May Not Get More Eligibility, and How Football Looked During the Spanish Flu

By Kevin Harrish on March 30, 2020 at 4:59 am
Tony Alford.

I just wanted to remind you all that sometimes, we're all Chris Holtmann during this time. And that's okay.

But hey, a five-star running back ain't a bad thing to lift our spirits.

Song of the Day: "I Could Be With Anyone" by Kevin Devine.

Word of the Day: Bedraggle.

 MR. LOCKDOWN. Jeff Okudah is getting all the pre-draft press – which tends to happen when you're a unanimous All-American projected to go in the top-5 – but the guy who played opposite of him all season is pretty damn good too.

And he put up those numbers while playing opposite the best corner in the nation and getting tested every game.

Any of you who've been around a while know I've been an Arnette Stan for a long, long time and I'm now stoked to see which NFL fanbase gets to be pleasantly perplexed in the near future, because wherever he's drafted, it's not going to be high enough.

 FOOTBALL DURING THE LAST PANDEMIC. With many, many sports already canceled and now football season potentially in question, it seems like these are some unprecedented times, but the truth is it ain't our first rodeo with a global pandemic threatening our sports.

But last time, in 1918, it was also (probably) worse and worked in tandem with the Great War.

Beginning in October, athletic events were postponed or canceled as city officials banned large gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Ohio State hosted football games on Oct. 5 and 12 before the season was shut down for four weeks. The Buckeyes returned to their home field on Nov. 9 for a game against the Case School of Applied Science (now Case Western Reserve University).


In 1918, the influenza altered a football season that already had been shaped by the United States’ entry into World War I in April 1917.

Many Ohio State players were off serving in the military rather than lining up on first down. The list included star halfback Charles “Chic” Harley, who had been instrumental in the Buckeyes’ emergence as a Big Ten powerhouse.


“It’s unusual in that it may be the only OSU football season that football didn’t seem that important,” said Bob Hunter, a former sports columnist for The Dispatch who has written several books on Buckeyes football history.

“Even during bad seasons, everyone is still obsessed with football. That season is kind of just a lost season. You go from having a great team, with all these great players, then poof, they’re gone. They play this season with nobody really watching. You had all these other issues that were much more important than football.”

That's not the most blissful comparison to start the week because that season (and year) kind of sucked for a whole variety of reasons.

But if we're silver lining searching, Ohio State had its first win over Michigan the following year, so you have no idea what's waiting at the other end of this.

 NOT SO FAST! It was really looking like the NCAA was actually going to make a good and correct decision that benefits students by granting spring athletes another season of eligibility. Hell, they even released a statement declaring that eligibility relief would be appropriate.

But we should have known that sounded way too good to be true because it seems those talks have now hit a snag when folks realized doing the right thing would come at a monetary cost.

All of that was before the announcement of a shortfall of more than 60 percent in annual NCAA revenue distribution to member schools because of the cancellation of the tournament.

Last week, USA Today projected merely granting seniors another year of eligibility would cost Power Five public institutions between $500,000 and $900,000.

In essence, administrators are coming to financial grips with doing the right thing.


For athletes -- particularly seniors in spring sports whose careers would otherwise be over -- the situation was summed up by one administrator this way: Sometimes, life's not fair.

Ah yeah, that's the NCAA I know.

Everyone in the world is getting boned by this pandemic and we're all collectively leaning on each other to get through it. But now when the organization that allegedly exists for the betterment of student-athletes has a chance to do something that actually supports the student-athletes, you have those folks grasping their coin purses telling the college kids that "life's not fair."

That's so on-brand it hurts.

I get it, you lost more than half your revenue unexpectedly and this would be a large unforeseen expense on top of that, but it's just terrible optics to effectively pass that punishment down to the individual student-athletes in the form of lost eligibility after already announcing that granting them additional eligibility would be the appropriate thing to do.

But hey, if there's any organization that's prepared to ride out a PR disaster, it's the NCAA.

 J.K. ALL DAY. I'll never turn down a chance to watch someone tell me why J.K. Dobbins is good at football, so NFL-knower Brian Baldinger's breakdown was a must-watch when I saw it scroll across my timeline.

Dobbins might have had the quietest great Ohio State career of any Buckeye running back ever. Here's hoping his NFL career is louder. He deserves that.

 CINDERELLA STORY. I'm going to be honest, Nick Mangold would not be in my top-six Buckeyes I expected to make the Final Four in this bracket, but after wins over Adrian Peterson, Ezekiel Elliott and Vince Young, here we are.

At this point, we've got to make sure he wins. I need this Cinderella story to get the fairytale ending.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS.  When Évariste Galois wasn't trying to overthrow the government, he was reinventing algebra... A quarantined man runs out of his house naked and bites a woman to death... A troubled teenager was made to take part in an illegal fight club... A new breed of drug dealer has turned buying drugs into a treasure hunt... The painful, lonely lives of autistic seniors... The times and life of the world's oldest man.

View 80 Comments