Skull Session: Kirk Herbstreit Defends the Rose Bowl's Honor, Tom Cruise Gives Message to TBDBITL, and Jim Tressel Helps Marcus Freeman

By Kevin Harrish on December 29, 2021 at 5:10 am
Demario McCall is showing off his animal crackers in today's skull session.

We lost a legend yesterday.

Rest in peace, Mr. Madden. You will certainly not be forgotten.

Word of the Day: Mirth.

 NO CONSOLATION PRIZES HERE. There's been a lot of talk about viewing the Rose Bowl as meaningless, and Kirk Herbstreit is having none of it.

"Even before we had the BCS and the playoff, the goal was always to go to the Rose Bowl (at Ohio State), (but how often did they actually go? Not very often and yet they still went to another bowl game and they were excited," Herbstreit said during a Zoom teleconference ahead of the College Football Playoff. "I just don't buy into this narrative of meaningless bowl games. These teams have always had goals of getting to the championship and it doesn’t happen all that often, but you don't throw in the towel and say, 'well, we didn't accomplish our goals.'

"I was on a team that did that. We lost to Michigan in 1990. We went to the Liberty Bowl. We had players on our team basically bad-mouthing the city of Memphis to the media and we went down there and they hated us. I don’t blame them for the things that were said. I get being upset and not beating (your) rival, but it’s the Rose Bowl. We used to have to try to deal with a consolation prize being the Citrus Bowl. But it’s the Rose Bowl.

"Maybe these players, when they get out there on the field, it’ll dawn on them why it’s different and unique. I get being disappointed, but you’ve got to shake it off and move on to the next game and get that bad taste out of your mouth."

He's spot on that this game is far from meaningless. Even if there are no national title implications, you don't get that many chances to play a highly-ranked non-conference opponent very often, much less in a game with so much history and pageantry and nostalgia. Whether it's where you want to be or not, it's special and it's still a huge game that you absolutely should want to win.

That said, I do think the larger point that Rose Bowl has lost a little bit of its luster is totally fair. 50 or even 25 years ago, a trip to the Rose Bowl meant beating Michigan and winning the Big Ten. Even if there was no chance at a national title, the Rose Bowl was an inherent celebration of that.

Unfortunately, that's just not the case this year. If Ohio State would have beaten Michigan and won the Big Ten, it would have gone to the College Football Playoff. The only reason Ohio State is in the Rose Bowl is that it lost to Michigan and didn't win the Big Ten. Back in the Woody Hayes days, Ohio State wouldn't be playing in the Rose Bowl this season, Michigan would. This year's game is just not the same thing.

Yes, it's till the Rose Bowl, but the circumstances are very different, and comparing it to the Rose Bowl games in Ohio State history is frankly disrespectful to those games and those teams. Like it or not, this year's game is the definition of a consolation prize. Like Kirk said, it's cool that the consolation prize is the Rose Bowl and not the Citrus Bowl, but it's just not the same as the Rose Bowls of old, and it's still a consolation prize. And I think it's totally fair and reasonable that people are starting to treat it that way.

 REAL RECOGNIZE REAL. It looks like Maverick has found his newest wingman – or rather, "wingmen."

Earlier this year, the Best Damn Band in the Land did a tribute to the 80s classic Top Gun. Turns out, Tom Cruise was a fan.

An advanced screening of the new movie is cool, but I honestly think they should reciprocate the gesture by performing Script Ohio with an F-18. It's only fair.

 CALLING ON THE VEST. Marcus Freeman may not be glad he went to Ohio State over Notre Dame, but it sure seems like he's glad to have a relationship with his former head coach.

I hope you like punts, Marcus.

 SOME CATCHING UP. You can get a very good idea of who a coach is as a person based on how their relationship with their former players, way more than even the current ones who are essentially forced to have at least a civil relationship with their coach.

I don't think anybody has impressed me in that department more than Tony Alford.

By all accounts, his players love him and continue to love him long after their playing days are over. While his explicit job may be to bring in five-stars and turn them into first-round picks, he clearly has a much bigger impact on his players' lives than that.

Even as an outside observer, I recognize that and appreciate it.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Kiss from a Rose" by Seal.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. Amazon's Alexa tells a 10-year-old girl to a touch live plug with a penny... One woman's search for her kidnapped husband... A rogue squirrel terrorises town in 48-hour rampage, leaving people scared to go outside... NASA paid priests and theologians to figure out how to deal with aliens... All hail dead week, the best week of the year...

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