Skull Session: Ohio State May Not Have to Cut Sports, Kerry Coombs is Killing It on the Recruiting Trail, and Denzel Burke's New Shoes Are Incredible

By Kevin Harrish on July 20, 2020 at 4:59 am
Gene Smith

Folks, we're another week closer to football, one way or another.

Word of the Day: Lapidate.

 NO CUTTING SPORTS? Gene Smith said earlier this month that Ohio State had no plans to cut any sports "at the moment." That seemed a little too optimistic after Stanford cut 11 of its 36 sports as Ohio State – the only program that sponsors more sports – sitting there with 37.

But there's a solid chance Ohio State won't have to cut any sports after all, even without a football season.

“It's a mask for, we have to spend money on all of these other things,” said David Ridpath, associate professor of sport management at Ohio University and a leading voice on college sports reform. “Do I see Gene Smith coming in and saying, ‘Hey, we’re capping football recruiting at $1 million?’ Um, probably not.

“ I remember talking to [OSU running backs coach] Tony Alford one time. Ohio State essentially doesn’t have a recruiting budget. It’s really just if you need it, you spend it. And they always have it. There’s not a whole lot of cost-containment there. You and I could sit down with Ohio State’s budget and, in a matter of hours, cut $5 million that people would not even notice, and the department would keep chugging along. And we’d be able to keep everyone employed.”


“The sad part is, I think COVID is being used as a convenient excuse,” Ridpath said. “There may be a reason to drop a sport — I don't want to be obtuse about it — but it should be the very last resort. It just gives a lot of cover to administrators. I’d love to see some AD step up and say, ‘We’re not cutting sports, but we are going to cut five analysts from our football program. We don’t need 10.’”


“If you’re cutting a sport at Ohio State, it’s going to be a huge public relations hit and an alumni hit,” Ridpath said. “If I was Gene Smith, it would be the absolute last thing on the table. I do think Ohio State has the ability, the wherewithal, the resources, even without a single dollar coming from football for an entire year, to borrow and sustain themselves at the level they’re at."

The key difference between Ohio State and Stanford is that Ohio State could actually support – or at least come close to supporting – 37 sports.

Stanford was projecting an athletic department deficit of $12 million before the pandemic while Ohio State was at just over a $600,000 deficit last year with Gene Smith saying "really good about where we are."

So, Ohio State probably isn't looking for a cheap excuse to cut sports, because in the long run, they've proven they can support them. They just have to survive the global pandemic first.

Borrowing is one option, but as he alluded to, there's probably a ton that you can cut down on to bring the athletic budget to a more... realistic size.

For example, have you stepped back ever thought about how insane it is that a college football team has, without doubt, the most sophisticated video production assets of anyone within a city of 900,000? Honestly, maybe within a 300-mile radius.

I'm not saying it isn't awesome to have an in-house video department that produces game highlight packages that could double as feature films, but if football season is canceled and you're suddenly out tens of millions of dollars, it might be wise to cut back juuuuuust a bit.

But hey, here's hoping we don't have to. It's pretty sweet knowing in the back of my mind that my favorite football program is also one of America's fastest-growing cities.

 PRIME SHOE GAME. Denzel Burke may be a four-star prospect, but my guy's got five-star shoe game.

Behold, the cleanest pair of AF1s you'll ever see.

I know he plays defense, but he's on officially on my Heisman watchlist for the next four years with that drip.

 KERRY COOMBS IS A MAD MAN. I'll admit it, I'm still kinda nervous about trading Jeff Hafley for Kerry Coombs (and his hashtags). Hafley turned out to be an absolute schematic and coaching wizard, and Coombs has never coordinated a defense before.

I have absolutely no idea how he's going to perform as a defensive coordinator, but we already know there's nobody better at convincing talented teens to play football for him, and that's at least half the battle.

I mean, this is absurd.

With Jordan Hancock's flip, Ohio State's sentient can of Red Bull is now up to No. 2 in the 247Sports recruiter rankings and he hasn't even been back six months.

Thank you for your service, Kerry. Next, do the one where you turn them into first-round picks!

 SPEAKING OF ABSURD RECRUITING... Brian Hartline needs to print out this Tweet, frame it, and hang it in his office, right after he attaches it directly to his resume and sends it right to Ryan Day for his performance review.

Shit, he may as well just tattoo it across his back while he's at it.

Yes, Brian Hartline's got 25 percent of the 11 receivers Max Prep identified as the best since 2000 on his current roster.

And you might be able to add another one to this list next year!

I legitimately could not assemble this Avengers-ass squad on a college football video game (RIP) if I tried. Brian Hartline must be playing easy mode.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Dreams and Nightmares" by Meek Mill.

This comes courtesy of the first College Football Playoff champions.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. Alex Trabek unknowingly ate hash brownies and woke up at friend’s house three days later... Naked man arrested says he used ‘mushrooms with Jesus’... John Wick clue helps Italian police intercept cocaine coffee beans... Conspiracy theories are now merging into each other... Art history may tell us what our food looked like hundreds of years ago...

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