Skull Session: Big Ten Headed For Massive Media Rights Deal, Julian Fleming and Kamryn Babb Impress, and J.J. Wolf Notches Huge Win

By Kevin Harrish on August 5, 2022 at 6:00 am
We're sending salutations in today's skull session.
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Well, this is it.

When I started at Eleven Warriors as a lowly intern over seven years ago (before I could even legally consume alcohol), I never imagined I'd that I would one day be crafting a "goodbye" post in a Skull Session.

For starters, I never could have fathomed that *I* of all people, would ever be writing the Skull Session. But more than that, I never believed that people would ever care enough about my work for a "farewell" to be appropriate.

But you all have showered me with support and appreciation that I'm not quite sure what I ever did to deserve. You have been just as faithful as the morning, with many of you reading every word I've ever published in these Skull Sessions over the years. I have never had to doubt that whatever I had to say, there was an eager audience waiting to hear it every single morning. And I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that.

This was my dream job, and I cannot emphasize that enough. Shit, if I'm being honest, writing Around the Oval once a week as an intern was my dream job.

I'll never forget how excited I was when Jeremy Birmingham and Ramzy Nasrallah – both of whom were basically rock stars to me (and still are, to be clear) – followed me on Twitter when I ran a shitty blog as a sophomore in college. I'll never forget how honored I was when Jason Priestas invited to write one article a week about non-revenue sports. Or how kind Eric Seger was when he edited my first post, and politely asked me if I had any idea what I was doing.

And since then, I've gotten to do a bit of everything. I covered women's basketball nearly full-time for several years, attending multiple Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. I got to go to the Woody every week and do countless interviews with players and coaches. I got to work alongside and make friends with writers and reporters I long considered my heroes. I got to cover some of the most insane, unprecedented times in Ohio State football history.

I got to moonlight as a recruiting reporter, cover a national title, show off my custom Chic Harley jersey, interview fans outside of the 'Shoe, create our national signing day graphics, frustrate a text message scammer, put quick cals on blast, take a victory lap after Dabo's primetime depantsing, and get vulnerable about losing my mother.

This has never been just a job for me, it's been a dream come true. And I have so many people to thank for that. There's not a chance I'll be able to name everyone who's impacted me while I've been here (that's what happens when you hang around for seven years) but I'm going to do what I can.

Jason took a chance on me as a young college student and continued to give me chance after chance as I grew into the job. Ramzy has been like a long lost uncle to me – and has turned me into a proper bourbon drinker. Chris, and Johnny started off as heroes in the Buckeye blogger world who I'd read since high school, and now they're dear friends. D.J. Byrnes wasted no time taking me under his wing and helped mold me into the writer and poster I am today.

Eric Seger, Tim Shoemaker, and Birm put up with me the best they could as I tried my damndest to learn from them. All the other guys from the beat team who've come and gone have all impacted me and helped me along the way. Griffin and Garrick, I'm sorry to leave you two, but I'm sincerely glad to have gotten to work alongside you.

Colin Hass-Hill and Dan Hope – we were one hell of a team. I couldn't have picked anyone better to work alongside through some of the most trying times of my online posting career. Those guys aren't just my former coworkers, they're my genuine friends.

Even colleagues who weren't at Eleven Warriors – Ben Axelrod, Ari Wasserman, Bill Landis, Ryan Ginn, Tony Gerdeman, to name a few – were kind and helpful and supportive of a young writer trying to figure this whole thing out, and I will never forget that.

And of course, none of this matters if I'm writing to nobody. And thanks to this fantastic community, I have never in my life had that concern. So, thank you for that. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

The reality is, that I could thank people and reminisce forever. But the gist of it is that I've loved my time here, I've loved the people I've met, and it's bittersweet that it's coming to an end.

I won't be here, but I won't be far, either. You can find me on Twitter. You can email me. Or you can simply wait until I come back around these forums – cause I'm sure I will. Y'all can't keep me away that easy. 

But before I go, I've still got one last Skull Session in me, so let's get to it.

Word of the Day: Adieu.

 CASH MONEY. As fun as the USC and UCLA additions are going to be going forward, everyone on the planet knows that the move wasn't about athletic competition, presitge, tradition, academics, or whatever other buzzwords might have shown up in that press release.

It was absolutely, 100 percent a cash grab. It's a respectable cash grab, to be clear, but a cash grab nonetheless.

And holy hell is it a lot of cash.

Before USC and UCLA announced they would join the Big Ten in 2024, the conference was already on track to garner up to $1 billion annually in its new media rights deal. But after the addition, media partners were told to “go back to the drawing board,” Front Office Sports previously reported. 

Now, the Big Ten hopes to kick that number up by 50% to at least $1.5 billion annually, sources told Front Office Sports.

If the conference can pull this off, it could become the richest in all of college sports — with a media deal that dwarfs even that of the mighty Southeastern Conference.

I'll be honest, I had at least slight concerns about adding two teams that are a minimum of 1,400 miles away from any other school in the conference, but there aren't many things in life I couldn't figure out for *checks notes* an extra half a billion dollars.

Carry on, Big Ten. Carry on.

 LOADED ARSENAL. Fear not, everybody. It looks like the Buckeyes are going to have some depth at wide receiver this season, after all. You don't have to be concerned any longer.

Finally, something is going right for the Ohio State receivers room.

Honestly though, it's absolutely hilarious that I'm using the word "depth" while talking about the No. 1 receiver in the 2020 class and the No. 13 receiver in the 2018 class.

What an absolutely egregious collection of riches.

 GET DUMPED THEN, SHAPOVALOV. Weirdly, tennis has been one of my favorite sports to watch and write about throughout my time at Ohio State and at Eleven Warriors, so it's only fitting that I get to go out talking about J.J. Wolf, who just had arguably the biggest win of his life, knocking off world No. 22 Dennis Shapovalov.

he unseeded American won the battle of 23-year-olds 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3 to advance to the Washington third round, breaking serve on five of seven chances. Despite hitting three aces to Shapovalov's 20, Wolf was more successful on both first and second serve and posted a strong 81 per cent (46/57) win rate on his first delivery.

Fuelled by the home support, the former Ohio State Buckeye also found success at net, winning 13 of his 16 approaches in the two-hour, 17-minute contest. The victory sets up a meeting against ninth seed Holger Rune for a place in the quarter-finals.

Entering the ATP 500 event as a newly minted member of the Top 100 for the first time, Wolf is up nine spots to No. 90 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week. With a 6-4 record on the season, he has twice before reached the Round of 16 on the ATP Tour this year (Acapulco, Houston). He also picked up wins at the ATP Masters 1000s in Indian Wells and Miami after qualifying for both events.

The only negative thing I have to say about J.J. is that he shaved his mullet, which should be grounds for arrest, in my opinion. But I'm willing to look past it just this once since he brought honor to Buckeye Nation.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Man Overboard" by blink-182.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. I whipped up a batch of bathtub Four Loko and I may never sleep again... Revenge porn victim wants to be a voice for survivors... A terrifyingly strange anime about talking farts... A small Nebraska town is rocked by four mysterious deaths at two burning homes... How to embrace doing nothing... How the Astroworld tragedy changed gigs forever...

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