Skull Session: A Fourth-and-1 Changed the Rivalry, Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel Are Teaming Up, and Haskell Garrett Gives Back

By Kevin Harrish on May 11, 2021 at 4:59 am
We're rocking some gold pants in today's skull session.

I know it's decidedly uncool to get giddy about an exhibition basketball tournament, but...

Just to be clear, if this news is anything besides "Aaron Craft and I are running it back," I'll be disappointed.

"Professor Sullinger and Dr. Craft" does have a nice ring to it...

Word of the Day: Abhorrent.

 THANK YOU FOR NOT PUNTING. Wild as it is, a decision NOT to punt from Jim Tressel was what led to The Vest's first victory over Michigan, sparking two decades of Buckeye dominance in The Game.

On one of the last of the 310 days he’d spent preparing his team for that week’s game, first-year Ohio State coach Jim Tressel shared with his players a motivational letter he’d received from Fred Martinelli, the Hall of Fame coach for Division II Ashland College in Ashland, Ohio. Like Tressel’s father, Lee, the longtime coach at Division III Baldwin Wallace, Martinelli had spent decades watching their state’s flagship university take on hated rival Michigan.

“He said, in the end, it’s usually a fourth-and-1 that decides the ballgame, whether you’re the team on defense that has to stop it or the team on offense that has to gain it,” Tressel described 20 years later. “So we talked about how, in rivalries, perhaps it comes down to 1 yard.”

On Nov. 24, 2001, in front of 111,571 spectators in a stadium where Ohio State had not won in 14 years, Tressel’s unranked Buckeyes held a 7-0 lead over No. 11 Michigan to start the second quarter. On a third-and-13, Buckeyes quarterback Craig Krenzel found receiver Chris Gamble on the flat, who turned upfield and lunged headfirst for the first-down marker. He came up 1 yard short at the Michigan 46.

Tressel, a notoriously conservative coach, initially called for the punt team.

“And the kids were all saying, ‘Wait a minute! You told us it was going to come down to a fourth-and-1. It’s fourth-and-1; let’s go for it,’” recalled Tressel. “And I thought, ‘Ooooh. You know, you’re right.’”

Spoiler – they went for it, they got it, and they buried Michigan in Ann Arbor.

It looked like this:

Touchdown, Buckeyes.

And because I'm an unabashed supporter of the website that makes the daily ill-advised decision to employ me, I'd like to direct you to a glorious piece my adopted uncle Ramzy wrote last year where he thoroughly explains to the youngs of us why this moment mattered so very much.

Normally, a Tressel team would play field possession between the 40s. The punt is the most important play in football is the man's coaching epitaph. But this is the Michigan game, which is more important than football. This is generational. It's cultural.

That moment was bigger than the most important play in football, and Tressel knew it. This was easily the most important decision of 2001. I would argue 4th & 1 from the Michigan 46 is the most important play the rivalry has seen this century, because it became the hinge.

Once this happened, it was evident Doss' fumble, Bullard's recovery and Wells' first touchdown were not glitches after all. The decision, the play call, the execution, the result. The Big Bang.

This is the moment everything changed.

Also, praises up that this wasn't the only clutch fourth-down performance from a Tressel-led football team.

 DYNAMIC DUO. When you get a chance to add a *second* Ohio State receiver with a sub-4.4 second 40-yard dash to your football team, you don't pass that up.

The Washington Football Team (which presumably will have a real name one day) desperately needed to get Touchdown Terry a worthy receiving partner, and they went back to the Buckeye well to do it with Curtis Samuel.

Samuel had a breakout campaign in 2020, finishing with a career-high 77 receptions for 851 yards and three touchdowns. Samuel also rushed for 200 yards and two scores.

His versatility is something that appeals to Turner.

“You can do a lot of different things with him,” Turner said. “He’s only 24-years-old, I think he’s just scratching the surface on what he’s capable of.”

All of the things that Samuel did well with Carolina and offensive coordinator Joe Brady in 2020 are things Turner likes to do. Now, he has the perfect receiver for his offense to pair with Terry McLaurin.

I always thought it was a bit of a disservice to Samuel's versatility that he was paired with Christian McCaffery because their skillsets were way too similar to be able to complement each other in the same offense.

But with Terry over the top and Curtis in the slot... Get me a quarterback and I've just found my new Madden team.

 GET YOUR WALLETS READY. I'm a well-documented supporter of The Players Trunk and I'm not even getting paid to tell you that!

I just think that if you're prepared to shell out the cash for some officially licensed team gear anyway, you may as well spend a few extra bucks to get some team-issued gear directly from a former player, instead (provided you don't still fit clothes from GAP Kids, like yours truly.)

If you're into that, there's some Buckeye gear that'll come available this week courtesy of Micah Potter and Malik Harrison.

I'd ask one of my many patrons to snag me a shirt, but regretfully, my wife would be the opposite of enthused if I decided to dress like 2006 Soulja Boy.

 BEAT ALL ODDS. After quite literally beating all odds with a breakout season just a few months after getting shot in the face, Haskell Garrett is doing his part to help young athletes beat any obstacles that may come their way.

Huge props to Haskell for being an A+ human being, but I've gotta give some credit to Sharon here, too, for being bold enough to ask him to go watch her grandson play football.

He was more than happy to help, and if she hadn't said something, he never would have gotten that opportunity.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "The Last Great American Dynasty" by Taylor Swift.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. An extremely rare calico lobster was rescued from a Red Lobster... For UFO hunters, owls aren't really what they seem... How a 4-year-old boy bought nearly 1,000 SpongeBob popsicles online... The people who just want to keep masking... Inside the secret mental health crisis for people who kill animals for science...  Some bear cubs in California are developing a mysterious illness that makes them friendly...

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