Skull Session: Chris Holtmann Reflects on Ohio State's 2022-23 Season, Jerry Lucas Should Dot the 'i' Soon and Ohio State Will Play Notre Dame at Night

By Chase Brown on May 25, 2023 at 5:00 am
Chris Holtmann

Welcome to the Skull Session.

Who is ready for South Bend under the lights?

I'll have more on that later.

Let's have a good Thursday, shall we?

 A TIME TO REFLECT. Chris Holtmann is human. He thinks. He feels. He experiences life and all of its colors, all of its potential. The 2022-23 Ohio State men's basketball season was full of failures experienced through blood, sweat and tears.

Two months after Ohio State's season ended at the Big Ten Tournament, those experiences have become scar tissue for the program, a reminder of the dark days and a mark of hope for a brighter future for the scarlet and gray.

In a Q&A with Adam Jardy of The Columbus Dispatch, Holtmann reflected on this past season's hardship, lessons and teaching moments. The Ohio State head coach also looked ahead to 2023-24, where he is hopeful the Buckeyes can return to and improve upon the success of former teams.

Here are the opening Qs and As from Jardy and Holtmann:

Q. Let’s start big picture. When the season ended, I asked what you would take from the year and you said you would need some time to process that answer. Two months since that day, have you been able to process what this year was and what has the process of processing it been like? A. Any season, you immediately look inward first and examine areas where you didn’t feel like you did a good enough job. There were a number of lessons that you can take. Ultimately, that’s what you’re hoping. Scar tissue can be a really valuable thing. If you can remember how you got those scars I think it can provide a real valuable lesson. For us, that’s what we have to take from this year. We’ve got a number of guys returning, and we’ve got some scar tissue and there’s a real opportunity for us to remember that and reflect on it and challenge ourselves to make corrections. That begins with me.


Q. What is some of that biggest scar tissue? A. A number of things. Despite what some people may think, our offense for the better part of our time here has been a really highly efficient offense. It’s really worked through playing through our best offensive players and the ability to just be highly efficient. The numbers certainly back that up, and most importantly the numbers in Big Ten play back that up. This year, while our tempo was the fastest it’s been, our efficiency was really poor overall. We have to reflect back on why that was. Our defense for a couple years has been trending in a bad way and I think we absolutely have to get back to having a defensive-first mindset. The numbers defensively have trended in a negative way. I would put our lack of offensive efficiency and that as the two areas that really need to get addressed. They’re both 1A because they’re tied together in so many ways. I think we took for granted the fact that we’ve had a highly efficient offense, it’s been consistent with who we’ve been, it’ll continue to be the case and it just wasn’t.

Jardy followed up these questions with discussions about Ohio State's offensive and defensive efficiencies in recent seasons, Brice Sensabaugh, some of the Buckeyes' returners (Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle Jr. and Felix Okpara) and transfer additions (Jamison Battle, Dale Bonner and Evan Mahaffey). All of it was good content. However, I want to focus on Jardy's second-to-last question, which I will include here:

Q. What do you still love about being a college coach? It’s been a tough year. Everyone probably considers a change here and there regardless of their line of work. What is it about the job that still keeps bringing you back? A. For me, it’s meaningful work. When I was thinking about a vocation, I wanted meaningful work. I just got into my 50s and the longer I live, the more I realize that there are things that matter and there are things that people think matter that just don’t matter. And meaningful work matters to me. Doing meaningful work matters to me at 50 more than it ever has. The moment I feel like it’s not significant, meaningful work for me is when I’ll choose a different profession. I get to impact, hopefully in a positive way, kids that I care about, impact futures, help kids navigate futures, help kids navigate the challenges of being an 18-to-22-year-old in a public way around all the stressors and challenges of being an athlete at a great university. The social media challenges of today’s kid. The mental health challenges of today’s kid and athlete. I find that to be meaningful work. I love competing. I love competition. I love the game. I love the strategy behind it. I love studying it.

Are there challenges? Yes. Are there days that I need a little bit of a pep talk, either from myself or someone else? Sure, but I think that’s true in anything you care about. My college coach gave me great advice, but one of the best thing is, “Find something that grabs your guts,” and this does for me.

Basketball is a game – a silly one, at that. The core objective is to score points by putting a ball inside a hoop (or basket) and prevent the other team from doing the same. Ohio State did not complete that objective many times in 2022-23. And that's OK. The reason that's OK is that there is more to life than this silly game. Holtmann understands that.

As a coach, Holtmann's "meaningful work," and more accurately, his purpose, is to impact players positively as they navigate school, social media, mental health challenges and other aspects of their lives. Wins and losses be damned.

Do I want Ohio State to have more wins than losses? Yes. Do I want Ohio State to win the Big Ten every season? Yes. Do I want Ohio State to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament every year? Yes. But ultimately, I care more about who Ohio State basketball players become once their time in the program ends. Wins, losses, championships and tournament runs are all sweeteners. I think Holtmann sees it that way, too. That's why I have always respected his work as head coach of the Buckeyes.

Here's to many more successful seasons with him at the helm.

 MAKE IT HAPPEN, TBDBITL. Another nod to Adam Jardy is in order for this section's content, as he discovered that Gene Smith discussed the possibility of former Ohio State men's basketball star Jerry Lucas dotting the 'i' at a football game on the May 11 episode of The Gene Smith Podcast.

Only a few non-Ohio State marching band members have dotted the 'i' in the many years of Ohio State football's partnership with TBDBITL. Woody Hayes, Buster Douglas, Jack Nicklaus and John Glenn are among them. So what would it take for Lucas to become a part of the elite club of Buckeyes and Ohioans?

Here is what Smith said in response to a listener question from Tim in Gallipolis, Ohio:

“We try our best to make sure that we recognize our greatest student-athletes, especially when they come back to sporting events. Talking about Jerry, he’s attended a number of our basketball games so any times he’s there we spotlight him and make sure that all of our fans have an opportunity to celebrate him and recognize him while he’s there in attendance, which I think is an unbelievable feeling for him to know that he’s still loved. Relative to dotting the ‘i’, that’s something that the band determines. We don’t touch that at all, really. The band just does that. Anyone that wants to promote Jerry to do that needs to contact the band director, Chris Hoch, and make that recommendation.

You heard Gene.

If you want to see Jerry Lucas dot the 'i' in the future, contact Chris Hoch at his email ( or phone (614-292-2598) and tell him to make Lucas the next non-Ohio State marching band member to complete the legendary tradition.

If and when you contact him, make sure to include Lucas' Ohio State résumé: 24.3 points and 17.2 rebounds per game, 1960 national champion, 1961 and 1962 national runner-up, three-time All-American, three-time Big Ten Player of the Year and two-time national player of the year. He also holds several Buckeye records, including career rebounds (1,411) and career free-throws made (438). Oh, and he ranks third all-time in career points (1,990) despite being unable to play varsity basketball as a freshman.

Tell me, is that good?

 THIS IS A FRIENDLY REMINDER. On Wednesday, Ohio State football announced that its 2023 regular-season matchup with Notre Dame will kick off at 7:30 p.m. in South Bend, Indiana, on Sept. 23. The game will be televised on NBC with streaming options available on Peacock.

Now feels like the perfect time for this reminder: Notre Dame will wear green for the matchup as part of a "Green Out" at Notre Dame Stadium. The Fighting Irish made that announcement via Twitter on St. Patrick's Day, March 17.

According to Tyler Horka of On3, Notre Dame has fared well in green uniforms over the past 40 seasons, collecting a 10-6 record and wins in five consecutive contests dating back to a 45-21 road win over Maryland in 2011. The Irish most recently donned green jerseys in a home matchup with California last season and squeaked out a narrow 24-17 victory. It was the first time the program wore the alternates since the 2018 season.

Season Opponent Site W/L Final Score
1983 USC South Bend, Indiana W 27-6
1985 USC South Bend, Indiana W 37-3
1991 Florida New Orleans W 39-28
1994 Colorado Tempe, Arizona L 41-24
1998 Georgia Tech Jacksonville, Florida L 35-28
2002 Boston College South Bend, Indiana L 14-7
2005 USC South Bend, Indiana L 34-31
2006 Army South Bend, Indiana W 41-9
2007 USC South Bend, Indiana L 38-0
2010 Army New York W 27-3
2011 Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan L 35-31
2011 Maryland Washington D.C. W 45-21
2015 Boston College Boston W 19-16
2016 Army San Antonio, Texas W 44-6
2018 Florida State South Bend, Indiana W 42-13
2022 California South Bend, Indiana W 24-17

The most memorable time Notre Dame wore green was in 1977 when then-head coach Dave Devine special ordered the alternate jerseys for a matchup with USC. In what is now known as "The Green Jersey Game" at Notre Dame, future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana's four-touchdown performance led the No. 11 Irish to a 49-19 upset win over the No. 5 Trojans.

Current head coach Marcus Freeman, new quarterback Sam Hartman and Notre Dame will look to accomplish a similar feat against Ohio State in 2023 and extend its win streak in green to six. However, the Men in the Scarlet and Gray will have other plans, namely bucking that trend, as Eleven Warriors user Stlbuckeye15 hilariously stated in March.

 MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT SZN. On Tuesday, The Memorial – known in the PGA Tour and in Columbus as "Jack's Tournament" after the legendary Jack Nicklaus – announced former Ohio State men's golfer Bo Hoag will participate in the 2023 tournament from June 1-4 in Dublin, Ohio.

A native of Columbus and a graduate of Upper Arlington High School (the same high school Nicklaus attended, hence his nickname "The Golden Bear"), Hoag attended Ohio State from 2007-2011, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2009 and 2011 and honorable mention All-American recognition in 2009. Hoag averaged 73.04 strokes per 18 holes in four years with the Buckeyes, the fourth-best average in program history.

Hoag also played at The Memorial Tournament last year. However, he did not make the cut after 36 holes. One week after, he and current Ohio State golfer Maxwell Moldovan qualified for the U.S. Open at Springfield Country Club in Springfield, Ohio.

In 12 years as a professional, Hoag has played in 77 PGA Tour events and earned $1,753,112 from those events. He will look to add to his career earnings this weekend by making the cut and reaching the weekend at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Dog Days Are Over" by Florence + The Machine.

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