Welcome to the Skull Session.
The Ohio State football media team kept cookin’ on Tuesday.
Let's have a good Wednesday, shall we?
HEALTHY EXPECTATIONS. Despite back-to-back 11-win seasons for Ohio State, the core of Buckeye Nation has been shaken by losses to Michigan in both of those years. And understandably so.
The program’s three goals are to beat Michigan, win a Big Ten Championship and win a national championship. The Buckeyes didn't accomplish any of them in the past two seasons. That's why the core has been shaken. Still, I wonder if we are all a little spoiled by Ohio State football.
As mentioned above, a down year for the Buckeyes is 11 wins, but with losses to Michigan, no conference title, and no CFP trophy, which makes me wonder how everyone would act if things were worse around here. The thing is, Ohio State hasn't been “bad” in 55 years. That's what AP Polls from all those years would tell me, at least.
So, yeah, maybe we are a little spoiled by Ohio State football. But I think that's a good thing. The Buckeyes have been so good for so long that we have expectations. Beating Michigan has now become a requirement. The same can be said for winning a Big Ten Championship. Fans also expect the team to contend for a national championship year in and year out. And I think all of that is good.
The 2023 season will be big for Ryan Day and the Buckeyes. Ohio State fans are hungry for a win over the Wolverines, for a stage to be rolled in on Lucas Oil Stadium's turf as scarlet and gray confetti falls toward the ground and for Day to hoist that black and gold CFP trophy in Houston.
Will Ohio State deliver? For the sake of shaken Buckeye Nation, I sure hope it does. That way, the expectations everyone has for the program can look healthy again, as the Buckeyes return to the top of the college football landscape – a place where they belong.
JOE BURROW IS A BUCKEYE. I am probably preaching to the choir here because I write for an Ohio State website, but I need to say this. It's ridiculous when fans of other college football teams badger and make fun of Ohio State fans for claiming Joe Burrow as a Buckeye.
"He didn't even play at Ohio State," "Urban Meyer picked Dwayne Haskins over him," and "He won a Heisman and a national championship at LSU, not at Ohio State" are among the many arguments I read on the cesspool that is Twitter. They are the same points made in a recent episode of the Barstool Sports podcast, Unnecessary Roughness.
I have zero idea who Double Vodka Don is, but his argument here does little to no service for Ohio State fans who claim Burrow as a Buckeye. But he works for Barstool Sports, so I need to temper my expectations.
Thankfully, another Twitter user had the ultimate checkmate for the argument of Burrow as a Buckeye. He took the words straight from the horse's mouth and used a clip of Burrow from a press conference on Feb. 3, 2022.
Checkmate, Im still a Buckeye pic.twitter.com/LxVHfsrhYy— Jimmy Edelbrock (@TopGunEdelbro) January 24, 2023
So there you have it. Burrow is a Buckeye. Nobody can deny it because Burrow (a.k.a Joey B, Joey Brrr or Joe Shiesty) says it himself in that clip, so if anyone challenges you that he isn't a Buckeye – which doesn't discredit any of his accomplishments at LSU, by the way –make sure to show the clip to them. It will be the argument ender. Guaranteed.
WELCOME TO THE IFL. A couple of Buckeyes will return to professional football in 2023, but they won't play in the NFL. Instead, it will be in the Indoor Football League – the highest level of professional indoor football in America.
The first former Ohio State player to sign with an IFL team was Cardale Jones, who agreed to a contract with the Massachusetts Pirates on Dec. 29. The organization's co-owner and president, Jawaad Yatim, said in a press release that he was ecstatic that Jones wanted to quarterback his team:
“Cardale is a winner. He can create and improvise, obviously has a live arm and has competed at the highest levels of football. We’re excited to insert his skills and abilities within our organization. We want a locker room full of enthusiasm this year, and my conversations with Cardale have only reflected that sentiment. We’re really glad to have him.”
The Tale of Cardale Jones is the stuff of legend in Buckeye Nation.
Ohio State's third-string quarterback heading into 2014, Jones helped the Buckeyes win a national championship after Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett suffered season-ending injuries. His three-game stretch against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon helped the program win the inaugural College Football Playoff and made him a beloved figure in Columbus.
In 2016, Jones was the fourth-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills. He was later traded to the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017 and spent 2018 on their practice squad. In 2019, he spent one week with the Seattle Seahawks. Jones' last game action came in 2020 when he played in five games for the D.C. Defenders of the XFL.
On Tuesday, former Ohio State safety Brendon White agreed to a contract with the Pirates, becoming the second Buckeye to align themselves with the IFL.
Former Rose Bowl Defensive MVP and Former All Big-12 Defensive Standout set sail for the Woohttps://t.co/IxsZZ0A3vG— Massachusetts Pirates (@mass_pirates) January 21, 2023
White was a Buckeye from 2017-19, with his best year coming as a sophomore in 2018. That season, he made 10 appearances for the Buckeyes and collected 46 tackles, four tackles for loss, two pass breakups and one interception. He also was named the 2019 Rose Bowl Defensive MVP for his performance against Washington in Pasadena.
After transferring from Ohio State to Rutgers, White was an All-Big Ten honorable mention selection in 2020. He recorded 104 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions and four pass breakups in his career. Following his college career, White was an undrafted free agent and attended camp with the New York Jets in 2021.
Cheers to Jones and White for their continued pursuit of football careers. They could have easily hung up the threads for good once their opportunities in the NFL ended, but they've kept working. Hopefully, they ball out and find themselves back playing for The Shield soon enough.
OLYMPIC VILLAGE. Sam Hackenbracht was diagnosed with cancer at 18 months old. At the time, the doctors told her mother, Heather, that Sam had a 50% chance to live.
After months of chemotherapy to attack a mass the size of a grapefruit in her abdomen, the coin flip landed in her favor. Before she was even consciously aware of the world around her, Hackenbracht beat cancer. She was a survivor.
Over 20 years later, Hackenbracht is a catcher for the Ohio State softball team, which she considers a blessing after dealing with various medical issues due to her pediatric cancer, including hearing loss, high blood pressure and lung damage.
In some odd way, she may even be thankful for the experience. It shaped her into the person and softball player she is today. Read this excellent piece from Rhiannon Potkey of D1Softball.com, and you'll realize she's great at being both. Here is some of the story to convince you to read the whole article:
Any time Sam hits a home run, throws a runner out trying to steal or just even steps on the field wearing a uniform, Heather counts her blessings.
"I don’t know why, but I always flash back to that little girl in the hospital bed struggling for breath,” Heather said. “I am so proud and happy for her because she didn’t have a normal childhood and she’s been able to have big moments like she’s had as an athlete.”
Hackenbracht enters her fourth season with the Buckeyes coming off a career year that showcased her blend of power and efficiency at the plate. She led Ohio State with a .377 average and finished tied for fourth in the Big Ten in home runs (16), second in RBIs (52) and third in slugging percentage (.755).
Hackenbracht did all of that despite playing with a torn labrum and bicep muscle in her right throwing arm that restricted her to the DH spot all season.
“Her entire heart and soul is about being a Buckeye. I think she would literally do anything for this team to be successful,” said Ohio State head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly. “We thought about redshirting her last year to save her body, but she didn’t want to. She told us, ‘I want to win with these girls. I can’t let them down.’”
As Potkey's story continues, you learn more about Hackenbracht's battle with cancer, her life growing up in the Lone Star State of Texas and her bright future in softball. And, folks, if last season is any indication, that future is very, very bright.
“I told her she was good enough to be an All-American last year, but you don’t always get chosen,” Kovach Schoenly said. “The great thing about Sam is doesn’t even realize how good she is. But I have been around some really good players at Ohio State and elsewhere and Sam is right up there. She is going to break records.”
Go break records, Sam. Buckeye Nation will be cheering for you when you do.
SONG OF THE DAY. “Starting Over” by Chris Stapleton.
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