Skull Session: Ryan Day Handles the Pope Situation the Only Way He Could, Justin Fields Struggles in Cleveland and Clemson Takes a Tumble

By Jason Priestas on September 27, 2021 at 5:00 am
Jaxon Smith-Njigba was all smiles following Ohio State's 59-7 win over Akron

Ryan Day made the move he had to Sunday when Ohio State announced that linebacker K’Vaughan Pope had been dismissed from the team.

It could not have been an easy decision for Day. Still, it’s the right call, and he handled it as well as Ohio State fans could have hoped, providing for Pope’s scholarship through the end of the semester and giving him access to university athletic programs like SASSO, the Student-Athlete Support Services Office.

Shortly after Day’s announcement, Pope issued an apology:

Sure, Pope made an awful mistake in a moment of frustration but apologizing when he really had no incentive to do so – remember, his door at Ohio State had already closed by the time he issued his apology – says a lot about his character.

His now-former teammates, like Chris Olave, Taron Vincent, Teradja Mitchell, Thayer Munford, and others, stepped up online to support him. I hope he ends up in a good place, too.

 THERE IS NO QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY. Kyle McCord was more than solid Saturday night against Akron, throwing for 319 yards and two touchdowns. His first series was forgettable, but he quickly got hot, completing 10 of 11 at one point, and that was enough for a particular segment of the fanbase that thinks the job should go to anyone but C.J. Stroud.

From the start, I’ve maintained that Stroud is Ryan Day’s guy this season, and I still firmly believe that. Stroud, the Elite 11 MVP in high school, hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been pretty darn good as a freshman throwing game passes for the first time in two years. As a former quarterback, Day knows how important confidence is at the position, and he’s not going to pull the trigger on a move that could shatter Stroud’s confidence – and signal to the other guys that they’re all on a short lease.

So it was refreshing to see BTN analyst Joshua Perry’s take on the situation in Perry on Point:

I don't think either one did anything to take snaps away from CJ. Kyle was good, but he was wildly inaccurate early on before settling in against a defense that had huge windows and a bad pass rush. CJ did not have the same luxury. He had to make his first starts against way better defenses and threw for a ton of yards in the process. Kyle also didn't have a ton of air yards, There was a ton of catch and run. Not to say he wasn't good because he didn't look like a true frosh, but he has some growing to do, just like all of the QBs. I think the coaches have reasons to be confident in Kyle, and maybe the point where you believe you can start QB mop-up duty is sooner, but I think CJ is the guy.  

 DABO IN SHAMBLES. Clemson fell all the way to 25th in the latest AP Poll following the Tigers’ overtime loss at North Carolina State. Just for fun, here’s a brief list of storied programs ranked ahead of the Tigers this week: Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Fresno State, Coastal Carolina, and Arkansas.

The tumble snapped Clemson’s streak of 97 straight weeks in the top 10 of the poll. How bad are things going for Clemson? ESPN analysts are teeing up on the program.

You truly hate to see it.

 IS THERE ANYTHING ZED KEY CAN’T DO? We’re big fans of Ohio State big Zed Key at Eleven Warriors HQ. The fingers guns, the engaging social media presence, the smile and the positive outlook on life – he’s an easy guy to root for.

Apparently, he’s also a body technician.

Respect, Zed. Respect.


At some point, we might have to all agree that Scott Frost is cursed as Nebraska’s head coach. We’re pulling our hair out over a one-score loss to a good Oregon team. Imagine being a Nebraska fan for a minute.

 IT’LL GET BETTER, JUSTIN FIELDS. Fields had a rough first NFL start in Cleveland yesterday with the Browns sacking him nine times and generally harassing Fields all afternoon on the way to a 6 of 20 afternoon that saw him pass for just 68 yards.

Maybe Matt Nagy was right all along, protecting Fields behind Andy Dalton and five trash barrels on the offensive line.

In other Ohio State-NFL news, Trey Sermon found the end zone for the first time as a pro and Marshon Lattimore had a game-sealing interception in Foxborough.

Before I move on, check out the expressions on these Lions fans as Justin Tucker grabbed their souls with a game-winning, and new NFL record, 66-yard field goal that bounced off the crossbar.

Now smile as you remember a good many of those fans also cheer for the Michigan Wolverines.

 THE ARENA DISTRICT DORA IS NOW LIVE. I played in a beer league hockey game last night at the Ice Haus. The score isn’t important (my team lost in a shootout), but I did get to witness the whole spectacle of WWE fans exiting Nationwide Arena when I got off the ice. That’s an, um, interesting lot.

More importantly, I saw a DORA trashcan right outside the Ice Haus. What’s DORA, some of you might be asking? Well, it’s a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or in laymen’s terms: a place where you can drink outside, and the Arena District’s DORA, which opened Saturday, is the city’s first.

We’re now able to get suds to go and drink openly in the areas highlighted in red on this map, which roughly runs from Nationwide Arena west to Huntington Park, EXPRESS LIVE!, and Field, the new home of the Columbus Crew.

Arena District DORA

It’s not quite New Orleans, but I’ll take it.

 TODAY’S JAM. “7/4 – Shoreline” from Broken Social Scene. Man, I have so many fond memories of catching this wall of sound live and this song never fails to put a smile on my face.

 ETC. I don’t love this quick Michigan hustle, but I respect it… Speaking of Michigan, Rich Rodriguez’s son, Rhett, is in intensive care with a lung injury. We roasted Rodriguez when he was in Ann Arbor but want nothing but a speedy recovery for Rhett… Bowling Green was paid $1.45 million to upset 30.5-point favorites Minnesota on homecoming… The state of Alabama has gone too far… This has gotta be one of the worst situations in which to find yourself fired… Turn an old eInk screen into an art gallery… Mini went and did it. They made the dumbest turn signals possible.

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