Skull Session: Ohio State Games Don‘t Belong on Peacock, Jim Tressel and Cardale Jones Will Sign Autographs Before a USFL Game and Justin Fields is That Guy

By Chase Brown on June 1, 2023 at 5:00 am
Ryan Day

Welcome to the Skull Session.

Ohio State football is close. Real close.

Let's have a good Thursday, shall we?

 A SIGN OF THE TIMES. One day, Ohio State football will have a regular-season contest broadcast exclusively on Peacock, a streaming service owned and operated by NBC. On that day, the billion-dollar media deal the Big Ten inked with NBC, CBS and FOX will no longer be cool or fun.

While it's not confirmed that Ohio State will ever appear on Peacock, the streaming service announced Wednesday that three of the Big Ten's top programs – Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State – will have at least one nonconference matchup streamed exclusively on Peacock in the first three weeks of 2023. 

That schedule means the Buckeyes have moved firmly into The Resplendent Bird's crosshairs, which means it's only a matter of time before Ohio State follows suit.

It's unfortunate. However, I can't blame NBC for boosting its subscription numbers. Every Ohio State fan would dish out a few dollars to watch their favorite team play Youngstown State, Western Kentucky, Southern Miss, Western Michigan, Marshall or whichever low-level program participates in the buy game (Peacock will happen eventually, but I don't believe an Ohio State vs. Big Ten school would ever be streaming-only). Why? Because it's a sign of the times.

We pay $15 a month for Amazon Prime, $7 a month for Apple TV+, $11 a month for Disney+, $15 a month for Hulu, $20 a month for Netflix and at least $75 a month for the television services like DirecTV Stream, YouTube TV, Hulu Live, Fubo and Sling when they include live sports. What's another $5 a month for Peacock?

As Johnny Ginter pointed out recently, with all these streaming services, I wish there was a way to get a bunch of channels in one flat rate package – maybe include my internet too. Then we wouldn't have to worry about Peacock at all!

 SIGN HERE, PLEASE. This weekend, the Memphis Showboats and New Jersey Generals will battle in a USFL contest at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, a venue located outside the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

To celebrate the matchup, the USFL rounded up some well-known footballers from northeast Ohio, including some with Ohio State ties (or vests), like Jim Tressel, Cardale Jones, Antonio Pittman, Chris "Beanie" Wells and Mark Anthony "Bo" Pelini.

Along with those Buckeyes, eight current or former members of the Cleveland Browns will be in attendance: Ben Davis, Eric Metcalf, Cleo Miller, Frank Minnifield, Greg Pruitt, Frank Stams, Wyatt Teller and Felix Wright.

From a USFL Canton press release:

The Sunday, June 4 Memphis Showboats vs. New Jersey Generals at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium will include two special promotions for young people and autograph seekers of all ages: Kids Day and USFL/Ohio Football Legends Day. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

Gates open at 11:30 a.m. for a free autograph session on the North concourse that will run from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Fans are strongly encouraged to arrive early as the autograph session will end promptly at 12:30 so as not to interfere with game operations. Guest legends will also be recognized on the field at half time.

The press release states fans may bring one item for autographs and receive only one signature per legend. Additionally, no photos will be permitted to keep lines moving and allow as many autographs as possible. Fans can purchase tickets to the game here.

I have always wanted to attend a football game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. While this sounds like a fantastic chance to do so, I will have to wait for another time to scratch it off my bucket list, as I will be on vacation next week.

To the last point. Don't worry about a lack of Skull Sessions while I am away, as we have an all-star cast of writers lined up (one of them rhymes with Mason Baristas). But do me a favor. Don't offer any of those writers too much love – I still want to be employed when my vacation is over.

 JUSTIN FIELDS IS THAT GUY. Justin Fields is the most explosive ballcarrier in the NFL, according to Next Gen Statistics reported by Nick Shook of Around the NFL. And, to be clear, that's among all ball carriers, period – running backs and wide receivers that also take carries (think: Deebo Samuel).

In 2022, Fields displayed incredible explosiveness, ranking in the 98th percentile of acceleration and speed, putting him ahead of Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III (90), Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne (90) and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (88), among others.

That explosiveness was critical to Fields' breakout sophomore season as quarterback of the Chicago Bears. In 15 appearances, Fields ran for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns on 160 carries. He also completed 192 of 318 passes (to a horrible wide receiver room outside Darnell Mooney) for 2,242 yards and 17 scores.

From Shook's article:

"Fields' 2022 season was visually thrilling," Shook wrote. "Statistically, it was incredible. ... The 2021 season's most explosive rusher was another quarterback – Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts – and Fields' Next Gen totals were even better than Hurts' in 2021. Only Kyler Murray has been more explosive on the ground in the last three seasons, with the Cardinals' quarterback setting the standard (32 runs of 10+ yards, 94 of 15+ miles per hour) back in 2020, and he finished that season with 324 fewer rushing yards than Fields posted in 2022.

"In fact, Fields' Next Gen numbers closely mirror Jackson's from 2020. Fields' ability to create positive gains with his legs only makes him more dangerous, and unless Chicago confines him to the pocket indefinitely, it's safe to expect he'll end up on this list again a year from now."

According to a report from The Athletic's Adam Jahns and Kevin Fishbain, featured in the Skull Session on May 24, the Bears are all in on Fields following his impressive 2022 campaign.

Chicago traded the No. 1 overall pick in 2023 for four picks and wide receiver DJ Moore, which also helped them select Tennessee offensive lineman Darnell Wright with the No. 10 overall pick after another trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. All moves were made to build around Fields, which should lead to more success for the former Ohio State quarterback.

I, for one, am excited to watch Fields this fall. It will be one helluva year if he provides us with more clips and videos like this:

 VIDEO GAME HALL OF FAME. There has been lots of talk recently about the new EA Sports College Football video game set to release next summer after an 11-year hiatus, mainly how current and future players will rank in the 2024 edition.

The Athletic's Chris Vannini and David Ubben offered different discussion points this week when the duo created an All-EA Sports NCAA Football Team from the past 30 years of the video game. And no surprise, several Buckeyes were featured on the list, with former Ohio State wide receiver and returner Ted Ginn Jr. as one of the headliners.

Here are the Buckeyes Vannini and Ubben chose for their all-time team:

James Laurinaitis, 99 overall in 2009

The mid-to-late 2000s were absolutely loaded with big linebackers. Their style may not comport with today’s wide-open game in real life, but they were tackle machines who could limit any big runs or get in the backfield for a tackle for loss, and the best ones still could manage quarterback contain well enough.

Chris Gamble, 99 overall in 2004

When your opponent controlled a safety before the snap, you knew you were up against a true gamer. Defensive backs got picked on in a game where everyone wanted to throw the ball, and that’s what made elite defensive backs so important [Gamble was one of them].

Ted Ginn Jr., 93 overall in 2007

Ginn was only a 93 overall, but no one who played the game was surprised when he housed the opening kickoff of the 2007 BCS National Championship Game against Florida. It was a scene all too familiar for gamers.

Ginn had 99 speed and was the fastest player possible in the history of the game. Particularly shameless gamers would move him to quarterback (banned by those with respect for themselves and others) and zone-read opponents to death with Beanie Wells.

Vannini and Ubben also chose three Ohio State players as honorable mentions, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor behind WVU's Pat White, running back Chris "Beanie" Wells behind USC's Reggie Bush and Arkansas' Darren McFadden and kicker Mike Nugent behind Colorado's Mason Crosby.

The writers claimed more Buckeyes would have made the list, specifically those from the John Cooper era such as Joey Galloway, Orlando Pace and Terry Glenn, but college football games did not have individual player ratings until 2002. That made ranking those players a difficult task.

At any rate, Ohio State has had some ballers over the past 30 years, both on the actual and virtual fields. From the latter perspective, I was happy to win championships with them in dynasty mode every year as a child. I can't wait to win more titles with the team in the future. 

 SONG OF THE DAY. “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles.

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