Skull Session: The Pressure is On For Ryan Day This Fall, the Buckeyes Will Have a Tough Schedule in 2023 and Urban Meyer Thinks Ohio State Should Build a Statue of Cardale Jones

By Chase Brown on February 24, 2023 at 5:00 am
Ryan Day

If the season ended today, Ohio State women's basketball would be a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The No. 3 seed is pretty cool. That's, like, a lot better than the men's team, which we will make no mention of in today's Skull Session.

Let's have a good Friday, shall we?

 THE PRESSURE IS ON. In a recent ESPN article that listed coaches with the most to prove in 2023, Alabama's Nick Saban, Florida's Billy Napier, Texas' Steve Sarkisian, Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher, Oklahoma's Brent Venables, Michigan State's Mel Tucker, UCLA's Chip Kelly and Miami's Mario Cristobal were among the names mentioned.

All the coaches are worthy of a selection and have plenty to prove this season. Still, Bill Connelly doesn't think they were the best selections and instead believed Ohio State head coach Ryan Day deserved the nod:

What about Ryan Day? His Buckeyes have lost six games in four seasons and haven't finished worse than sixth in the AP poll since 2013, but this feels like an inflection point of sorts in Columbus. Ohio State has been thumped by Michigan twice in a row, and while his defense improved overall under Jim Knowles -- Day's third coordinator in four years -- it still gave up 500-plus yards and 40-plus points in each of the season-ending losses to Michigan and Georgia. At the same time, his team came closer than anyone else to beating Georgia in 2022 and should start out in the top three or so of the polls. The 2023 season represents both an opportunity and a threat. Ohio State could make serious noise in the national title race once again, or it could fall behind both Michigan and a rising Penn State in the Big Ten pecking order.

Most of what Connelly wrote for Day was what we have heard all offseason – that Ohio State needs to beat Michigan and should be expected to bust through the glass ceiling and win a national championship sooner rather than later under Day.

However, I had not considered one point Connelly brought to the table: Knowles is Day's third defensive coordinator in his four complete seasons as head coach of the Buckeyes. That, of course, is a lot of turnover in a short time, which I believe has contributed to some of the defense's shortcomings in recent seasons.

With Knowles back with the program for another year, I expect the Buckeyes' defense to look sharper and faster in 2023, which will go a long way toward helping Day meet the expectations Ohio State fans, and now national media writ large, have set for him heading into the new season.

But as I am sure many of you will do, I will take an “I'll believe when I see it” approach to the Silver Bullets' emergence. The pressure is on until Day, Knowles and the defense prove they can hang.

 YEAH, THAT'S TOUGH. For Day and the Buckeyes to accomplish the program’s goals of beating Michigan, winning a Big Ten Championship and winning a national championship, it would be in Ohio State’s best interest to navigate the regular season without a loss to blemish its record.

That will be easier said than done, considering Ohio State has one of the toughest schedules in 2023 based on opponent win percentage from this past season, according to college football analyst Phil Steele.

1 SOUTH CAROLINA 103-53 66.0%
2 MICHIGAN STATE 96-57 62.7%
3 WEST VIRGINIA 98-59 62.4%
4 OLE MISS 95-68 62.1%
5 MISSOURI 97-60 61.8%
T-6 HOUSTON 96-60 61.5%
T-6 FLORIDA 96-60 61.5%
8 IOWA STATE 97-61 61.4%
9 OHIO STATE 94-60 61.0%
10 KANSAS STATE 96-62 60.8%

Steele calculated the rankings using the NCAA’s formula for schedule difficulty, not his own. That means he only considered opponent win percentage from the previous season to rank the teams and did not add wrinkles of, say, the number of home and road games teams will play in 2023 (or any other factors, for that matter).

If Steele were to have added that wrinkle – something I'm sure he plans to do in the 1,000-page preseason magazine he releases every year – I believe Ohio State would have been higher on the list, as the Buckeyes will play six home and six road games in 2023. Even more, two of those road contests will come against Notre Dame and Michigan, and one of the home contests will be a matchup with Penn State. All three teams are expected to be top 15 squads at the start of the year.

So the pressure is on Day this fall as mentioned above, but the fifth-year head coach, his staff and his players will need quite an effort to complete a perfect regular season. If the Buckeyes accomplish that feat, they will have beaten Michigan, would be a favorite to win the Big Ten and would likely be the team to beat in the CFP.

 A STATUE FOR CARDALE? Ohio State football doesn't have many statues of former players or coaches outside Ohio Stadium. Actually, there aren't any at all. The only statue I know of stands outside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. You could probably guess who is remembered with that one.

Still, Urban Meyer believes Ohio State should get to carvin' a statue of one of his former players as soon as possible. That player is Cardale Jones.

Yeahhh, let me be the first to offer a firm "No" to that – for now, at least. I'll also offer Meyer the benefit of the doubt that he wasn't claiming Jones should be the next Ohio State player to receive a statue. But that may be the case given how Meyer made said claim.

Should Jones receive a statue for the three-game stretch against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon that led to a national championship in 2014? Maybe. I'm not sure I would agree with the decision, but I could see how one could make the argument. After all, it is one of the most famous moments in college sports.

If Jones were to receive a statue, I think I would only accept it if Chic Harley, Les Horvath, Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, Archie Griffin, Eddie George and Troy Smith had theirs up first. All of them won a Heisman Trophy, save for Harley. But Harley built the Shoe, and nobody else can make that claim. I also think one of Jim Tressel wearing a sweater vest would need to be placed outside the stadium before Jones received his.

I don't know. Perhaps I am not looking at this with the correct lens, but I think Jones would be lower on the pecking order to receive a statue than Meyer would like to believe. Given that Ohio State has all of one to this day, it seems they aren't all that interested in making them. And if they ever suddenly became interested, there would be a long list of legends that would need remembrance before Jones had his time to shine.

Let me know your take in the comments.

 A DIFFERENT KIND OF SPORT. Did you know Ohio State has a state-of-the-art Esports Arena with features like PCs, consoles, virtual reality equipment and streaming rooms in Lincoln Tower? Well, if you didn't, you do now.

In addition to free student access with a BuckID, the Esports Arena is the home of four premier teams for League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League and Valorant that compete in tournaments against other schools from across the country.

While not affiliated with Ohio State athletics, the Esports Arena is sponsored by Continental Office and Dell Technologies to provide the premier teams and students with up-to-date electronics and software that keep the Buckeyes at the top of their game. The premier teams will soon have scholarships available to players who earn roster spots, too.

I think this is really cool. Esports are not "sports" in the traditional sense of the word, but the games these students play require tremendous skill to compete at a high level. Good on Ohio State for allowing them to do something they love and represent the Buckeyes as they do it. May there be many championships and trophies for these players in the future.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Come and Get Your Love" by Redbone.

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