Skull Session: Marvin Harrison Jr. Will Leave Behind a Powerful Legacy at Ohio State, Buckeye Assistant Coaches Make Bank and Aaron Craft is Now Roommates With Thad Matta

By Chase Brown on November 17, 2023 at 5:00 am
Marvin Harrison Jr.
Brooke LaValley / USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Skull Session.

Jim Harbaugh will not coach in The Game in 2023.

Part of me loves the news. Even if Harbaugh doesn't do much on Saturdays, I believe Michigan is better with him than without him. The Wolverines becoming easier to beat is a positive development for the Buckeyes.

Part of me hates the news. The Game is better when Ohio State and Michigan are at their best. It just is. Michigan will not be at its best without Harbaugh wearing a headset.

Also, if Ohio State wins, Michigan fans will use the excuse that their team didn't have their head coach. If Michigan wins, Wolverine fans will never let Ohio State fans hear the end of it that their team won without their head coach.

Also also, Ohio State's revenge for the past two seasons could have been much sweeter if Ryan Day were able to shake hands with Harbaugh after a win rather than offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore.

... I think I hate the news more than I love it.

Regardless of how I feel about the matter, all Ohio State has to do is win and you, me and the rest of Buckeye Nation will be pleased.

So, go do that, Ohio State.

Cool? Cool.

Have a good Friday.

 JUST CALL HIM MARV. When looking for long-form features on former and current professional athletes, I head to The Ringer or GQ. On Nov. 14, much to my surprise, the featured athlete on GQ's website was not a professional. It was Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.

This week, GQ's Josh Planos conducted a Q&A session with Harrison as the star pass-catcher prepares for Ohio State's stretch run. Here are some comments Harrison made on his fashion sense, collegiate career and the legacy he wishes to leave behind in Columbus.

On His Fashion Sense

Q: When I think of the Indianapolis Colts of the early 2000s, with Peyton Manning and Jeff Saturday, I think of perhaps the most unstylish team ever. And no knock on your dad, but I see him as more of a button-down-and-jeans guy rather than a fashion mogul. So I have to ask: Where does your fashion sense come from?

A: I gained it over time. It's a new age of social media and you get a lot of ideas from other people and create your own style from it. I always want to look good everywhere I go. You never know who you're gonna see or what someone's first impression might be, so just look nice! It's a good first impression.

Q: And what does your dad think of your style?

A: [Laughs] He thinks it’s too much, all the time. He's a very simple guy. He wears like three or four sweatpants or sweatsuits; just rotates those throughout the week. He has a couple of pair of jeans here and there, but definitely nothing too flashy. So we're opposites in that area.

On What Separates Him From Other Ohio State Receivers

Q: Ohio State has recently had no problem putting receivers in the NFL, typically in the first round. Jaxon Smith-Njigba was arguably the best route-runner in his class. Garrett Wilson was a burner. Chris Olave was fluid. I’m curious what you think separates you from your peers right now.

A: Just the total package, really. I think I have the route-running ability. I have the speed. I can change direction like smaller receivers, at my size—6’4", 200-plus pounds. I think having the total package really separates me from the rest.

On Which Nickname He Likes The Most

Q: SuperMarv? Marvelous Marvin? Maserati Marv? Are you a nickname guy? And do you have a preference?

A: I’m not much of a nickname guy, but I get a lot of them. Just Marv is the probably the one I like most [laughs].

On What Legacy He Wants to Leave Behind in Columbus

Q: What do you want your legacy to be in Columbus?

A: I don't want anyone to remember the awards, touchdowns, yards, whatever it may be. I just want people to remember the person who I was, you know? In the building, how was I as a teammate? How was my work ethic? I think my legacy will be my work ethic and the influence I had on my teammates. Most important is that I was the guy that treated everyone equally and said hi to everyone. I just want that to be remembered for that.

That last answer left me speechless.

Harrison, who should be considered one of the greatest Ohio State receivers of all time, if not the greatest Ohio State receiver of all time, after his departure, doesn't want to be remembered for his awards and honors. He wants to be remembered as a good teammate and a person who "treated everyone equally and said hi to everyone."

That's humility — a quality not seen among the masses in today's culture.

Cheers to Marv. I look forward to what he accomplishes over the next few weeks. Even more, I look forward to the legacy he leaves behind in Columbus. It will be a great one.

 INTERMISSION. Consider this second section an intermission of sorts — a 30-second timeout. There were a lot of words in the opener and section one, and there will be a lot of words in sections three and four.

Here are some words from the great, late Woody Hayes.


Avoid it like the plague.

 THAT'S A LOT OF MONEY. According to USA TODAY Sports' annual analysis of college football staff salaries, Ohio State's assistant salary pool leads all public schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2023.

Ohio State, Georgia and Alabama are the three schools to surpass $9 million in combined on-field staff salaries this season. The Buckeyes lead the pack at $9.27 million, followed by the Bulldogs ($9.23 million) and Crimson Tide ($9.17 million). Ryan Day ($10.3 million), Kirby Smart ($10.7 million) and Nick Saban ($11.4 million) are also among the highest-paid head coaches in the sport.

This year, five of Ohio State's 10 assistant coaches are earning at least $1 million. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles paces all Buckeye assistants at $1.96 million, a number that ranks third in the FBS behind Clemson offensive coordinator Garrett Riley ($2.1 million) and Washington offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb ($2 million).

Ohio State's other million-dollar assistants are defensive line coach Larry Johnson ($1.67 million), offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Brian Hartline ($1.6 million),  offensive line coach Justin Frye ($1 million) and secondary coach Tim Walton ($1 million).

The lower-paid assistants on staff – relatively speaking – are running backs coach Tony Alford ($772,500), safeties coach Perry Eliano ($515,000), special teams coach Parker Fleming ($500,000), quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis ($412,000) and tight ends coach Keenan Bailey ($400,000).

Ohio State's 2023 Assistant Coach Salaries
Coach Title 2023 Salary Contract End

That's a lot of numbers.

That's a lot of dollars.

That's a lot of money.

But to whom much is given, much will be expected.

Buckeye Nation will expect much from Day and his 10 assistant coaches this weekend vs. Minnesota, next weekend vs. "That Team Up North," and in the postseason.

It's time to prove that money was well-spent, coaches.

 AND THEY WERE ROOMMATES! In a full-circle moment, Aaron Craft's pursuit of a doctorate in medicine literally took him to the doorstep of the man who helped him become an Ohio State legend: Former Ohio State coach and current Butler coach Thad Matta.

From Akeem Glaspie of The Indianapolis Star:

Fourth-year medical students are encouraged to pursue month-long rotations away from their home schools. The process is like a pre-interview before beginning a residency, a way for aspiring doctors to show their skills in front of a different set of physicians.

With two kids at home, Craft wanted a rotation near his family in Columbus. He applied to a program through IU Health and got accepted. He'd spend time working at Methodist Hospital, a few days at the Riley Hospital for Children and the remainder of his time at the IU Health Cancer Center downtown. Now he just needed a place to stay.

The original plan was to stay with childhood friend, former Ohio State teammate and current Butler director of recruiting Jon Diebler. Craft soon realized Diebler lived a little further from downtown than he preferred.

Two days before he needed to be in Indianapolis, the former point guard had one last Hail Mary pass available, coach Matta.

"It was Friday and I had to be there Sunday night because I started Monday," Craft said. "I called him Saturday morning on a whim to say, 'Hey coach, I'm gonna be there for a month,' which he already knew. But wanted to see if he and (wife) Barbara would be willing to have me stay with them for a month.

"He didn't hesitate. So, that was a blessing. It was half the distance than it was to Jon's, and he just said yes, right on the spot. I said, 'Okay, I'll pack and I'll see you tomorrow evening.'"

That rocks.

As Glaspie's article continues, one can read that Matta is "an authentic, genuine guy" who will provide for his players on and off the court. When Craft asked Matta to move in for a month, the former five-time Big Ten champion Ohio State head coach answered "Yes" because helping out a former player is another part of what it means to be a coach.

"I've always said to those guys, ‘I've never scored a point. I've never gotten a rebound,’" Matta told Glaspie. "I think back to what those guys have given me in my career and the opportunities that they've given me. Aaron's a guy who won 119 games in four years. ... I think that's the way it's supposed to be. Because when I recruit kids, I tell them, 'This is not a four-year deal, this is a lifetime deal.' And as much as I can do for those guys, I'll do whatever I can from those guys."

Over the years, Matta and Craft's relationship has evolved from coach-recruit and coach-player to coach-alumni and alumni-alumni (more like Ohio State legend-Ohio State legend). All the while, Matta and Craft have been family. A father of two daughters, Ali and Emily, Matta refers to Craft as "the son I never had." 

"That young man is so special to me, in terms of coaching him at Ohio State and him being an Academic All-American," Matta said. "He's going to be a tremendous doctor. There's no question about that."

There is no question about that.

Craft is one of those people who is exceptional in all that they do. A record-breaker on the hardwood, an award-winner in the classroom and, surely (don't call me Shirley), a Hall of Fame husband and father, Craft is destined for greatness in the medical profession. I look forward to the progress he makes as time continues — and more stories about "The Adventures of Matta and Craft" in November.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" - Simple Minds.

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