Skull Session: Michigan's Mike Morris Believes Buckeyes and Wolverines Can Coexist, Urban Meyer Reflects On Talent Pursuit at Ohio State and Greg McElroy Picks TTUN to Win The Game

By Chase Brown on March 2, 2023 at 5:00 am
Ryan Day and Jim Harbaugh
Adam Cairns / Columbus Dispatch

The NFL Combine continues today.

All eyes are on Indianapolis.

Let's have a good Thursday, shall we?

 IT'S ALL LOVE, APPARENTLY. Ohio State and Michigan don't go together. The way I see it, they never have and never will. The relationship between players, coaches, administrations, students and fans is one that neither side likes the other. However, that's not how Michigan defensive end Mike Morris sees it. At least not exactly.

In Mike Morris' eyes, Ohio State has some cool and fun people who are human beings playing the same sport as him and doing what they love.

"I talked to Zach Harrison. I feel like they're really cool guys. I mean, once we take off the uniform and stuff, we can all agree we're all just human beings. We're all just football players trying to do what we love, so I feel like it wouldn't be too hard at all. I feel like we're all cool, and we're all football players. But when November comes around, that s— dead. Excuse my language. I'm sorry. But we already talked about The Game (this past season). We've talked about it next year and what the plans are. I'm definitely gonna be calling him. He'll probably be calling me."

Look, that's a cool perspective, but "that s— dead" is the only way this rivalry exists.

Ohio State-Michigan isn't one of those “rivalries” where once the clock hits triple zeroes, the players and coaches forget their hatred for one another and want to dap each other up at midfield. When The Game ends, the Buckeyes want to beat up the Wolverines and vice versa, regardless of the score. That's not a mentality that turns on in November. That's a 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year mentality.

Think what you want, Mike. But it's all there, black and white, clear as crystal. Ohio State and Michigan hate each other with a vitriol unknown by most of mankind. It's been that way for 118 years. It will be that way for 118 more.

 THE MANIACAL PURSUIT OF TALENT. Whether it was Bowling Green, Utah, Florida or Ohio State, Urban Meyer always obsessed over recruiting. That obsession resulted in two national championships with the Gators (including one against Ohio State) and one title with the Buckeyes.

In a recent interview with Ari Wasserman of The Athletic, Meyer explained why he believed recruiting to be so important during his long career as a head coach in college football. He also revealed some of his most significant recruiting wins while at Ohio State and the best evaluation of a player he made as a leader of the Buckeyes.

Here are what I believe to be the three best quotes from the article:

On what makes Meyer a good recruiter

"I treated it like a game. The best recruiters I’ve ever been around — the best players, the best coaches, it doesn’t matter — are the guys that just don’t lose. It becomes a competition, and I tried to create that on our staff. I tried to set the bar, as far as phone calls, as far as work, as far as travel, as far as you know, writing letters, emails, text messages. I learned that from (former offensive line coach) Greg Mattison, a very dear friend. We were at Notre Dame together. Ironically, later, he came to Ohio State. It was a competition on who would sign the most players. That’s what I wanted on our staffs. And we had that."

On the most significant recruiting "win" of Meyer's career

"Raekwon McMillan or Vonn Bell. The reality was that the quality was there, but the quantity wasn’t there in Ohio or the North anymore. Great players, just not as many. There was a time when Woody Hayes filled his roster with Ohio prospects, and even Jim Tressel, 18 of 25 (players in each class) were from Ohio. When I got hired, the expectation that (athletic director) Gene Smith and I had was that we were going to try to win a national title. That meant going to get the best players in America — it didn’t matter where they were at. If it is in Ohio, go get them. Somewhere else? Go get them. So when we went nose-to-nose with Georgia and the teams in the South, I remember sitting back and thinking, 'We did it, we’re a national player.' Ohio State has always been national, but I’m not sure to that extent."

On the most satisfying evaluation of Meyer's career

Sam Hubbard. I saw him on a dodgeball court. … We didn’t think Cincinnati Moeller had a player for us (that cycle), and the head coach John Rodenberg was talking to me while I was in the gymnasium watching dodgeball. This one kid is destroying everyone. Big, good-looking, athletic kid. (Rodenberg) had been telling us about this kid named Sam Hubbard. I stopped him while watching Dodgeball and asked, 'Who is that?' Rodenberg responded, 'That’s Sam Hubbard.' I was like, 'Woah.' So we invited him up to camp and we took him as a tight end. That was pure evaluation. He was committed to Notre Dame in lacrosse. Also, Terry McLaurin is another one who was under-recruited, and that was a result of camp and making him come back to camp.

Meyer reflected on several other topics with Wasserman, including his coaching and personal growth at Florida and Ohio State, his relationship with Mark Pantoni, “the player that got away” from the Buckeyes during his tenure (spoiler: it was Stefon Diggs), the best high school player he ever saw in person, NIL in today's college football and more.

While I would recommend you read it for yourself and choose what you like the most, I found the three quotes embedded above to have the most meat.

Meyer is one of the best recruiters in the modern college football era. He turned Ohio State into a “national player” that could contend with Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Clemson and other schools annually to land the best recruits, such as Raekwon McMillan or Vonn Bell.

How Meyer accomplished that feat – frequent travel, phone calls, emails, letters, text messages – sounds exhausting. But Meyer loved it because he wanted to win, and, more importantly, it allowed Ohio State to thrive. Since Meyer chose Ryan Day as his successor, the Buckeyes have continued to thrive on the recruiting trail and look poised to be a national player for the foreseeable future.

Hopefully, like Meyer before him, Day's tenure will have recruiting success and at least one national championship. Preferably sooner rather than later.

 JUST BEAT MICHIGAN. This week, I learned that former Alabama quarterback and current ESPN college football analyst Greg McElroy has a podcast. It's pretty good, and I appreciate much of the detailed analysis he offers on various topics and storylines surrounding the sport.

On Monday, McElroy offered spring previews for several teams. He also provided some "bold predictions" for the 2023 season, including one that Ohio State will lose to Michigan for the third straight year – a claim that is sure to ruffle some feathers in Buckeye Nation.

"(It's) fair. We talked about the edge presence for Michigan and the importance to find that, right? Well Ohio State’s breaking in two new tackles. And tell me this. The last couple games against Ohio State, what right now is going to lead to you feeling better about the Buckeyes’ chances in 2023? Is it a new quarterback? Is it the fact that Ohio State really didn’t play very well in each of the last two outings? Is it that Ohio State is gonna become more physical this next offseason? ... I know Ohio State might have a higher ceiling and Ohio State in their last performance might have looked better than Michigan did, but either way, Michigan’s won two in a row and (their wins) haven’t been super competitive. So yes, I think it's fair. I think Michigan is the team to beat heading into 2023. That's based on what we’ve seen and based on the key pieces they have returning."

Many of you know how this section will end (hint: it involves the words "Beat Michigan"). But first, let me offer my two cents. What McElroy said is on the nose. I never thought the day would come when I would have to write these words, but it's true. Michigan is the favorite heading into The Game in 2023.

The Wolverines have won back-to-back games in the rivalry. J.J. McCarthy, Blake Corum, Donovan Edwards, Mike Sainristil and several others return to their roster as players who contributed to those victories. Meanwhile, many of Ohio State's best players have never beaten Michigan, including Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, TreVeyon Henderson, JT Tuimoloau, Jack Sawyer, etc. The burden is on the Buckeyes to prove they can retake control of the matchup. Even more, they need to do it in Ann Arbor.

To do that, Ohio State needs to adopt a certain mentality in 2023, and here's the payoff to that hint: Beat Michigan, beat Michigan and beat Michigan. If the Buckeyes can do that, the Big Ten Championship, College Football Playoff and national title are within grasp. So whatever the Buckeyes have to do, just beat Michigan.

 WAIT... WHAT'S UP? Folks, I have found it. I have found the freezing cold take that trumps all other freezing cold takes. One that is so genuinely awful that I don't have the words to describe it. Have a look:

I don't know who Rob Rang is or that he is a draft analyst for Fox Sports. It would appear that I am not missing much, however, as his opinion that JSN will not be – at the very least – a first-round draft pick in 2023 is laughable. The good news is that Ohio State faithful were out in full force to roast him for said opinion (which is probably what Fox wanted, but that's neither here nor there).

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Work Song" by Hozier.

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