Skull Session: Anonymous Coaches Talk Buckeye Hoops, Ryan Day is the Fourth-Best Coach, and Gene Smith Gets Extended

By Kevin Harrish on May 20, 2021 at 5:27 am
Ryan Day is looking over his team in today's skull session.

Imagine a world where Ohio State is so desperate for a victory trinket that they hand out rings for beating Bowling Green and Miami University in the same season.

Because that's pretty much what's happening here.

Word of the Day: Desideratum.

 ANONYMOUS #TAKES. I have a love-hate relationship with anonymous quotes. On one hand, I really have no idea who these people are or why I should value their opinion on anything. On the other hand, anonymity is the only way to get an active coach to be brutally and sometimes hilariously honest.

So, when Jeff Borzello of ESPN gives me a collection of quotes comparing the recruiting "sales pitches" across the Big Ten, I choose to believe they're all very real, because that's just way more fun.

And the good news is, Ohio State is consistently seen as a "top tier" recruiting pitch. The bad news is, it still isn't always a slam dunk.

While Indiana and Michigan State are generally considered better jobs because of their dedication to basketball, Michigan and Ohio State are right there in the top tier with the Hoosiers and the Spartans. In fact, some coaches think the Wolverines and Buckeyes are simply better jobs due to their enormous brands and athletic department resources.

"I feel like they're in a group of their own," one assistant coach said. "They have prestige. Brand name, brand recognition. You can pick up the phone and call any kid in the country and there's gonna be interest because of the brand. There always seems to be NBA-level players in their home state, year in and year out. You're going to be, at worst, one of two in the state of Michigan, and in Ohio, one of one."

"What don't they have that Indiana and Michigan State have?" another longtime Big Ten assistant added.


Ohio State has a title, multiple Final Fours and was one of the most consistent programs in the country under Thad Matta. The Buckeyes possess recent success, a very strong in-state talent base to recruit from, excellent tradition and very good facilities.

"They've got a huge alumni base," a coach said. "When they're good, the fans appreciate their basketball. It's a basketball-rich state, they've got a tremendous basketball history. They've had some good coaching staffs. And when you go on an official visit to a football game, you experience a college football game day, you combine that with great facilities, a great city in Columbus, it's hard to turn down."

The sentiments of coaches who think there's a gap between "basketball schools" Michigan State and Indiana and "football schools" Michigan and Ohio State have to do with the perceived focuses of the athletic departments.

"I don't think they've got the staying power if they take a dip, like Indiana has," one coach said. "It's too easy for people to call Michigan and Ohio State football schools. If they dip, they could dip for a while."

"Michigan is still a football school. That's a challenge," another coach added. "Some will say that's a really good thing because they won't talk about you until late January. But people don't really pay attention until you hit it big. Ohio State has one of the worst atmospheres in the league."

All in all, extremely fair! Especially the parts about Ohio State being a football school nobody cares about until late January and also that last portion about having one of the worst atmospheres in the league.

The atmosphere in the Schott is so bad during the average home game that it's almost worth just bringing a prospect on a road trip instead. I don't even know if that's allowed, but Chris Holtmann should consider it.

 MOVING ON UP. Ryan Day was hilariously low on last year's CBS Sports college football head coaches power rankings, checking in at No. 10. The reason was that Day was a new coach who inherited a great situation from Urban Meyer, so it was hard to know just exactly how good he was.

I get it, but also, that No. 10 ranking was still trash because there's no level of careful consideration or waiting-and-seeing that should have him below guys like Dan Mullen and James Franklin.

However, it seems that there has been a bit of justice this year.

4. Ryan Day: I had been one of the voters holding Day back last season because I took a more patient approach. I felt that Day had inherited a pretty nice program from Urban Meyer, and I wanted to see how he maintained it. Well, two playoff berths and a title game loss later, and I'd say he's doing pretty well. Hell, you could say he's doing some things better than Meyer. Ohio State is easily one of the three best programs in the country, and Day has only made that more obvious since taking over. 2020 rank: 10 (+6)

To be clear, No. 4 is still too low – no sane individual would pick Lincoln Riley over Ryan Day at this point – but I'm at least satisfied enough not to riot in the streets.

 NEXT MAN UP. Wanna waste six minutes of your boss' time watching Ohio State's next generational quarterback put the ball on the dot over and over and over? I got you.

Also, No. 6 Landon Samson might be a human whose existence is worth remembering, if you catch my drift.

 HOW TO SUCK UP TO YOUR BOSS. Folks, take notes.

However, this doesn't really work in my case, because the odds of me lauding my boss on Twitter for giving himself a pay raise are slim to none (sorry, Jason).

Now, if he wins that vaccine lotto though...

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Aliens Exist" by blink-182.

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