Skull Session: Students Should Get First Dibs at Tickets This Fall, Thad Matta is Proud He Never Paid for Players and the 2002 Season of Tressel Ball

By Kevin Harrish on May 29, 2020 at 4:59 am
Jameson Williams is looking good in today's skull session.

Hey, Ohio State won the 2002 national title last night.

Song of the Day: "Carmen Ohio" performed by Cie Grant.

Word of the Day: Elated.

 STUDENTS FIRST? There's a very real chance the 'Shoe will be just 20 or 25 percent full this year, if there are fans at all. If that's the case, there are going to be some decisions to make about who gets to go through those gates.

My take: it should be the students before anybody else. Dave Briggs of The Toledo Blade puts it eloquently:

If universities need students on campus to play college football — and Michigan president Mark Schlissel sensibly made this clear last week, telling the Wall Street Journal: “If there is no on-campus instruction then there won’t be intercollegiate athletics” — it only stands to reason the students should get first dibs on the tickets.

And I don’t mean token dibs, like at the Final Four, where a couple hundred students are propped behind the baskets to keep up appearances.

I mean real priority.

The pecking order should be this: family and guests of players and coaches, students, then the big-money donors and superfans. If there are 20,000 tickets to go around, I’d give the students at Ohio State and Michigan at least 15,000 of them, which should take care of every undergrad trying to embrace all they can in a suddenly dystopian college experience. Last year, in regular times, Ohio State sold 21,716 student season tickets; Michigan sold 20,356 student packages. (The same idea applies, in theory, at Toledo and Bowling Green, where student fees are the athletic department’s top source of revenue.)

So far, I’ve heard only one big-school AD put the students first.

“We’re committed to having fans in the stands and we’ll start with the students,” Notre Dame’s Jack Swarbrick said at a fundraiser the other day. “My view throughout has been if we think it’s safe for students to be on the field playing football, it should be safe for students to be in the stands watching football.”

I'm a realist, so I know damn well this isn't going to happen. Ohio State's going to prioritize donors because money talks, but that doesn't mean that's not bullshit. For starters, I think students should get priority anyway, given that it's college football and they are the college students and as Urban Meyer used to put it, "the lifeblood of the program." If you want to preserve any home-field advantage of any kind, make sure any student who wants to go to the game can go to the game.

But more than that, if we're really concerned enough about the spread of this virus that we're going to cut capacity by 50-75 percent, why do we think it's just a fine idea to have 20,000-50,000 people traveling two and from campus every week? Why not fill the stands with the people who've been on campus and will stay on campus afterward?

The answer, of course, is because money.

 NOT A DIME. Thad Matta is damn proud of what he accomplished at Ohio State, but he's damn prouder of how he did it – squeaky clean.

Some of my pals at The Athletic did a fun little exercise, drafting three teams out of Matta-coached players before having Matta himself evaluate each team. It was cool and good and you should read it all, but one moment at the end stood out, for obvious reasons:

Landis: Well, you can say whatever you want now because you don’t have to worry about it blowing back on you.

Matta: That’s right.

Landis: OK, I’ll let you get back to the beach here in a second, but the thing we have to decide is which team you think is the best.

Matta: You have the best team. You’ve got the two guards. Je’Kel on the bench. Greg, Jared and William is really good. Daequan Cook, as far as talent, holy cow. Shannon as the backup point guard. But I gotta give it to you.

Evan, David, Jon and Aaron … I’ll tell you what — that’s pretty good, too. But the team with Greg and Jared would be second.

These are some un-fucking-believable players on this. And we never paid a fucking dime for any of them.

It's a strange realization learning that I made the same amount of money for my athletic performance as Greg Oden, Mike Conley, D'Angelo Russell and Evan Turner combined, but I sure ain't mad about it.

Needless to say, if Thad Matta ever wants to write a book...

 TRESSELBALL SEASON. We got to relive one of Ohio State's most glorious displays of Tresselball last night with ESPN's replay of the 2002 Fiesta Bowl (sponsored by Tostitos, the one bowl sponsorship that ever made sense). But the truth is, it wasn't just that game, the entire second half of the season was a Sweater Vest Special.

The funny part is, I have vivid memories of all of these games, but given that it was the first year I closely followed Ohio State football, I had no idea this was abnormal. I thought this is just what football was. And in a way, I wasn't wrong.

 IT'S COMING. Phil Steele's preview magazine is one of the surest signs that football is neigh. And folks, it's about to hit the presses.

Now, we just pray that this year's version of the NCAA football video game isn't also delayed.

Oh wait...

 CONFIDENCE ON 10. Jameson Williams could not have more confidence for a guy that has six career college catches. My dude's out here expecting stadiums in his name.

I mean, when you can do this, who can blame him?

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. How selfie culture ruins the great outdoors for everyone else... A judge rules that a wife who killed her abusive husband can inherit his estate... A jogger is caught on camera taking a poop in a community garden... A notorious DC prison is now a classy suburban development... The people who send their ashes into orbit... 

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