Skull Session: Just Beat Michigan, C.J. Stroud’s Predraft Process is a Warning for Future Quarterbacks and Jim Tressel Threw ’Em the Heater

By Chase Brown on May 8, 2023 at 5:00 am
Ryan Day

Welcome to the Skull Session.

That D'Angelo Russell dude is a pretty good basketball player.

I think I'll watch him some more.

Let's have a good Monday, shall we?

 JUST BEAT MICHIGAN. As I write this Skull Session, which comes to your computer, tablet or smartphone on May 8, I believe The Game will be an all-time classic on Nov. 25. Ohio State and Michigan will likely be undefeated, ranked in the top four, with a Big Ten championship and an all-but-guaranteed spot in the CFP in on the line.

It's not a hot take, I know. And this won't be, either: Ohio State must win. ESPN's Greg McElroy explained why Ohio State defeating Michigan in Ann Arbor is his second-largest must-win game for college football's top programs in 2023.

“The Game is one that will define every single Ohio State and Michigan coach. Now, Michigan and Jim Harbaugh lost how many consecutive games to Ohio State? And clearly he’s back in the good graces of the Michigan faithful. But if Ryan Day goes 0-for-3 in the last three games, I think people are going to be very, very hot in Columbus.

"He made up some goodwill with how his team performed against Georgia. ... I do think Ryan Day is back in the good graces of Ohio State fans. That’s until he plays Michigan this year. They might be 11-0. They might be sitting there No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 in the country. Michigan, I might add, they might be 11-0, too, at that point. Sitting at No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 in the country. And if, for whatever reason, Ryan Day can’t get it done this year, that would indicate three consecutive losses to the Michigan Wolverines. I’m not one that has spent a ton of time around Ohio State fans. But, in the little time that I have on a national radio platform, they might be out with their pitchforks and torches if the Buckeyes lose a third consecutive game to the Michigan."

Here is a take that could be hot or cold, depending on how you view Ryan Day: I like him. I think he's a good coach. I think he will eventually lead Ohio State to a national championship, probably sooner rather than later. But if the Buckeyes lose to Michigan in 2023, some will never agree with me on the first two points, and because of that, he may never have the chance to make the third point a reality.

That's why Ohio State's goals for 2023 – and I know many of you may be tired of reading this, but I don't care – must be to beat Michigan, beat Michigan and beat Michigan. No matter how the season goes for the Buckeyes, just... beat... Michigan.

 DANGER, WILL ROBINSON. In the weeks and days before the NFL draft, C.J. Stroud had his draft stock seemingly plummet after it was leaked to the public that Stroud received a poor score on the S2 cognition test, which measures a player's cognition and processing capabilities.

However, when the draft arrived, Stroud was the second quarterback off the board as the Houston Texans selected him with the No. 2 overall pick. Sooooooooo Stroud's test score didn't matter? Well, no. Still, Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr believes Stroud's results and subsequent leak to the public should be a warning sign to all future quarterbacks who enter their names in the draft.

From Orr's article:

I have no problem with Bob McGinn, who first reported for Go Long that Stroud received an 18% on the S2 cognition test. McGinn, who has been covering the NFL longer than I’ve been alive, is one of the most accurate draft experts walking the Earth. His goal has always been to relay to you what scouts relay to him, and thus, what scouts are discussing in team meeting rooms. My problem is with what happens when that information (like bad Wonderlic scores that have leaked for years) leaves his capable hands, and we, in the media, start using it as an automatic shorthand for the possession of, or lack of, intelligence. It’s great Young nearly broke the scale on the S2, which I’d heard back in the winter when reporting our magazine profile of him. That may help explain why he’s such a good quarterback.

It’s also potentially meaningless that Stroud did poorly on the test. The GM who drafted him, Nick Caserio, seemed to be fine enough with Stroud’s processing ability to make him the No. 2 pick. Ran Carthon, the Titans’ GM who, according to our Albert Breer, considered trading up to No. 3 if Stroud was still on the board, was probably all right with an 18%, too.

Because it didn’t really affect draft proceedings (Will Levis and Anthony Richardson scored higher than Stroud on the S2, according to McGinn) we didn’t necessarily see the pushback I expected. That said, I feel like quarterbacks should consider opting out of this—and many other—tests in the future, and quietly may be already. Based on how public the results became, there truly is no advantage for a quarterback to take it. While it may have ultimately helped Young’s stock, it’s hard to go into a test that claims to accurately quantify traits such as instincts, angle control, motor learning and risk tendency without knowing how you will perform and, ultimately, without knowing whether those results will be weaponized against you.

I love this take.

C.J. Stroud was excellent at Ohio State. He proved himself worthy of becoming a top draft pick week in and week out, consistently producing as one of the best passers in college football. But a poor S2 score, a test Ryan Day said less than half of NFL teams recognize, had the potential to stop that reality in its tracks? That blows.

If I were a quarterback with well-renowned and studied talent, I would skip the S2 score – or any other cognition test, for that matter – and let my performance on the field determine what teams think of me. That wouldn't be a move to disrespect NFL personnel, but one rooted in fear of that test score being “weaponized.”

Orr later wrote that all that happened to Stroud occurred because the draft process is “already ridiculous, archaic and, to some, insensitive.” It very much is and probably always will be. But I have hope that quarterbacks making smart business decisions, such as declining to take cognitive tests, will change that for the better in the future.

 THROW 'EM THE HEATER, RICKY. Jim Tressel threw out the celebratory first pitch for the Cleveland Guardians’ series opener with the Minnesota Twins on Friday as the Guardians celebrated Youngstown State University, a school he led to four Division I-AA national championships from 1986-2000 and led as president from 2013-23.

I couldn't find a clip of Tressel's first pitch on social media or the various interwebs, but rest assured that Tressel gave ’em the heater like Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn and threw a strike over the middle of the plate. However, a punt from the pitcher's mound may have been more appropriate from The Vest in honor of his favorite football play.

While it hasn't been the victory laps Derek Jeter and the late Kobe Bryant had when they retired from the MLB and NBA, respectively, Tressel has been on quite the celebratory run recently. A few weeks before his first pitch, Tressel was honored on the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer as his family, former players and Ohio State fans celebrated his retirement from Youngstown State.

Bobby Carpenter, one of Tressel's former players and current co-host of 97.1 The Fan's Morning Juice, introduced Tressel for a speech at the celebration and reflected on what the legendary head coach has done for him and all the players he coached in his career.

"He has paid it forward in ways that very few people on this boat can possibly imagine," Carpenter said. "I look at the impact he has had on me, his former players and guys that I know, and I have tried to extrapolate that. ... In everything he has done for me, my teammates, our friends, and guys who I cannot even possibly imagine. ... He loves his players. He loves his state. He loves this community."

When Tressel took the microphone from Carpenter, he took on the persona of The Senator, working the room like nobody else can.

“People always ask, ‘What were our greatest victories?’ The greatest victories are (my former players) and the men they have become – what they have meant to this community, this university and their families," Tressel said. "When you reach certain milestones in your life, you start thinking about things. Ellen and I talk often about how blessed we have been with the people we have had a chance to be around.”

Those are the words of a meek and humble man. Even though he Broke the U, won many games and beat Michigan year in and year out for a decade, he cared more about his coaches and players – their well-being, success and future – which is why he deserves all of the celebratory moments and distinguished honors he has received in recent weeks.

That's what makes him a Hall of Famer. That's what makes him world-class. That's what makes him Jim Tressel.

 SCHOOL'S OUT. I attended Ohio State's spring commencement on Sunday to celebrate my wife, Maggie, who received her second degree from THE university in five years – a bachelor's in social work in 2022 and a master's in 2023. That accomplishment made me very proud.

Maggie was one of over 11,000 students who graduated on Sunday, including over 9,000 undergraduates and over 1,000 master's students and doctorates. Among those Buckeyes were several recognizable names, such as football players Tommy Eichenberg, Steele Chambers, Kourt Williams II, Jaden McKenzie, Michael O'Shaughnessy and Bradley Robinson.

After his recognition, Key offered some words of encouragement to Ohio State's graduates. While I did not record it and can't include accurate quotes, I can summarize his message with this: No matter if you're a football player, a member of student government or a “regular” student who attends classes daily, once you graduate you are a Buckeye for life

I think many were, are or will be in the third category. I know I was. My college experience will not be remembered by anyone or celebrated years later, but I am a Buckeye, and nobody can take that away from me. That's what makes a degree from Ohio State so special and why the university has one of the largest alumni associations in the world. We love the scarlet and gray, and we always will.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “School's Out” by Alice Cooper.

 CUT TO THE CHASE. Fanged fishes found on Oregon beaches... Hundreds of pounds of pasta dumped near New Jersey stream... May the Fourth be "I do": Ohio city has "Star Wars" weddings... Kayaker Dane Jackson descends 300 feet down waterfalls in Mexico... Mage wins the 149th Kentucky Derby, capping a volatile lead-up in which 7 horses died.

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