Skull Session: Emeka Egbuka is “Locked In” For 2024, Ohio State’s Research Expenditures Exceed $1.4 Billion and ESPN’s College GameDay Will Cover Ohio State-Iowa This Weekend

By Chase Brown on February 26, 2024 at 5:00 am
Emeka Egbuka

Welcome to the Skull Session.

Who had a Dale Bonner buzzer-beater on their Bingo card for Sunday’s game?

I didn’t.

But I am thrilled it happened.

Have a good Monday.

 HE’S BACK! Last week, Ohio State wide receiver Emeka Egbuka (and some other Buckeyes, both former and current) spent time on the Buckeye Cruise For Cancer, which raised millions of dollars for the Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Insitute.

On the cruise, Egbuka sat down with former Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter, currently a radio show host on 97.1 The Fan’s “Morning Juice,” to discuss his decision to return for another season with the Buckeyes, how the offseason has felt within the program and more.

Here’s an audio clip of the interview and a transcription of Egbuka’s quotes:

On being a veteran in Ohio State’s wide receiver room

“It’s a big responsibility, but it’s something that I am proud to be. I am proud to be the guy in the room and teach the young guys the ropes – to carry that torch and pass it on to the next year. It’s something that I have a ton of honor about, and I’m looking forward to this year.”

On what makes Ohio State’s wide receiver room special

“I think it’s the competitive nature within it. We all compete with each other every single day. You go into the room with the mindset of – like, when I went in there, it was, ‘OK, I’m chasing Chris (Olave) and Garrett (Wilson), and I’m chasing Jaxon (Smith-Njigba).’ You know what I mean? I feel like the young guys have that mindset when they come in. They know what it is. You’re working your way (through the room), and you’re working for the approval of your peers, the guys who have done it before you. We’ve made that a culture in our room, and we strive every day to get better and better.”

On battling through injuries in 2023, coming back in 2024

“It’s part of the game. It’s something you have to realize when you play football. At the time, I thought it was unfortunate, but it’s led me to here and it’s led me to now. I’m back at Ohio State for my fourth year, and I feel like it was the plan God had in store for me. I’m looking forward to taking this opportunity to just run with it.”

On his decision to return for another season in 2024

“It was the most 50-50 that I have ever been about a decision. I heavily relied on my faith. I was constantly in prayer and reading in my word to try and discern what the Lord wanted me to do. He led me back here. And with that decision, there were no ifs, ands or buts about it. I was fully committed. I was fully locked in. … These guys on the team that I spent these last four years with are all my brothers. I cherish every opportunity I get to play on the field with them. … Everybody made the best decision for themselves, but (the chance to win a championship) was a weighing factor. We’re looking to do something special this year.”

I still can’t get over how many draft-eligible Buckeyes chose to return for another season at Ohio State. Egbuka, TreVeyon Henderson, Donovan Jackson, Jack Sawyer, JT Tuimoloau, Tyleik Williams, Ty Hamilton, Cody Simon, Denzel Burke, Jordan Hancock and Lathan Ransom – all of them are back.

Then the Buckeyes messed around and added Will Howard, Quinshon Judkins, Seth McLaughlin, Will Kacmarek and Caleb Downs from the transfer portal.

Yeah, I’d say Ohio State has the chance to do something special this year.

Wouldn’t you?

 SHOW ME THE MONEY. Ohio State’s annual research and development expenditures set a new university record in fiscal year 2023 (FY23), reaching almost $1.45 billion from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023. The new number represents a 6% increase over last year’s expenditures of $1.36 billion.

“Ohio State’s research community is deservedly recognized among the best, and this record-breaking funding total highlights the university’s significant impact on our state and the world,” Ohio State president Ted Carter said in a statement. “The research conducted on our campuses changes lives for the better and is a critical part of Ohio State’s mission as a land-grant university to deliver discoveries the world needs now.”

In partnership with Ohio State’s colleges, the school’s enterprise for research, innovation and knowledge tracks annual research and development funding. The numbers measure funding available to perform science and expression research and are included in Ohio State’s submission to the National Science Foundation’s HERD survey. Ohio State ranked 11th among all universities (and seventh among public universities) in research and development expenditures for FY23, up one spot from the previous year.

“These numbers illustrate the incredible scientific talent and creativity at Ohio State. From foundational work in materials and physics to space exploration, artificial intelligence and breakthrough therapeutics that improve lives, Ohio State is leading the way in science with impact,” said Peter Mohler, Ohio State’s executive VP for research, innovation and knowledge and interim president between Kristina Johnson and Carter’s tenures.

Growth in research and development expenditures was spread across the university in FY23, as eight of Ohio State’s 15 colleges had 10% increases or more year-over-year, including business, dentistry, engineering, law, medicine, optometry, public health and veterinary medicine.

Whenever I learn about Ohio State’s research and development endeavors, I am reminded of that one commercial from long ago titled, “This is Ohio State.” 

For some reason, that commercial was removed from YouTube in recent years. However, the message was simple enough to share with words: Some people come to Ohio State to play for the football team; others come to Ohio State to work with some of the top researchers on the planet (like Pierre Agostini, who won a Nobel Prize in 2023). No matter the reason a person becomes a Buckeye, Ohio State offers a chance to excel at both. 

How many schools can make that same offer?

The answer: Not many.

That’s why Ohio State is THE greatest school in the whole world.

 ALL EYES ON IOWA CITY. Ohio State women’s basketball won its 14th consecutive game on Sunday, defeating Maryland, 79-66, in Columbus.

The win allowed the Buckeyes to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title in 2023-24. It also locked up the No. 1 seed for the Buckeyes at the Big Ten Tournament, which sold out for the first time last week.

Before Ohio State competes in Minneapolis, the Buckeyes will host “That Team Up North” at Value City Arena at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. They will then travel to Iowa on Sunday for their regular-season finale against Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes. 

Some fun news about the latter matchup: ESPN’s College GameDay will be in attendance as a sellout crowd of 15,500 fans fills Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the top-five showdown.

The last time Ohio State and Iowa met on the hardwood, a sellout crowd of 18,660 at Value City Arena watched the Buckeyes upset the then-No. 2 Hawkeyes, 100-92. The game attracted an average television audience of 1.93 million, and viewership peaked at 3.9 million. It was the most-watched women’s college basketball regular-season game since 2010.

Ohio State secured its upset over Iowa thanks to a stellar performance from Cotie McMahon, who scored a career-high 33 points with 12 rebounds and two blocks. Clark, the 2023 Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year, led the Hawkeyes with 45 points, shooting 12-of-25 from the field and 14-of-16 from the free throw line. She also added three rebounds and seven assists.

Clark scored 25 points (with 15 rebounds and 10 assists) in Iowa’s 101-85 win over Illinois on Sunday. She needs 33 points to pass Lynette Woodard – largely recognized as the collegiate women’s all-time scoring leader with 3,649 points in the AIAW –  and 51 points to pass “Pistol” Pete Maravich to become the top scorer in college basketball history. Clark can (and probably will) break both records against Ohio State.

That said, Ohio State and Iowa’s first matchup being a banger (it was a banger, and I know bangers) and the potential for Clark to break records make this regular-season finale appointment television for Buckeye Nation and college basketball fans writ large.

 THE NEXT BIG STAGE. Ohio State’s national championship-winning dance team will soon have another chance to make a name for itself.

On Saturday, USA Cheer announced that the Buckeyes’ jazz and pom routine will represent America at the International Cheer Union (ICU) World Championships. The event, sponsored by the International Olympic Committee, will be from April 24-26 in Orlando.

“This is certainly an exciting accomplishment for our team and a first for our program,” Ohio State spirit program director Melissa McGhee said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be able to represent the United States on the world level, which is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our student-athletes. We are looking forward to interacting with the teams from other countries and embracing the international experience and competition.”

Just to make sure you’re tracking – Ohio State’s jazz and pom routine was so good that USA Cheer said, “Would your entire team like to represent the United States at the largest dance competition in the world?”

That’s unprecedented.

But it also makes perfect sense.

Ohio State’s dance team has been one of the most successful programs in recent memory. Since 2018, the Buckeyes have won at least one championship at nationals, culminating in 2022 when the team won three:

  • 2018 - First place in jazz and pom
  • 2019 - First place in pom
  • 2020 - First place in jazz
  • 2021 - First place in jazz and pom
  • 2022 - First place in jazz, pom and gameday
  • 2024 - First place in jazz

Forget most successful – that’s straight-up dominance. And I look forward to seeing the Buckeyes take that dominance to the national stage in April.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “Come With Me Now” - KONGOS.

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