Skull Session: Felix Okpara’s Departure Leaves Ohio State Hoops in Limbo, Buckeye Nation Can Tour the Shoe For Cheap and Jim Tressel Attends Notre Dame’s Spring Game

By Chase Brown on April 22, 2024 at 5:00 am
Felix Okpara
Adam Cairns/USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Skull Session.

OG Walt continues to speak facts.

Have a good Monday.

 PORTAL PROBLEMS. When Ohio State landed five-star center Aaron Bradshaw from the transfer portal last week, many wondered how it would impact Felix Okpara’s future with the Buckeyes. Would Bradshaw, Okpara or both start? If both, who would start at power forward and who would start at center?

Those were the two questions people asked.

Few asked a third.

What if Okpara transfers?

That outcome occurred over the weekend.

On Sunday, the 6-foot-11, 235-pound big man entered the transfer portal after two years with the Buckeyes, during which he averaged 5.3 points, five rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. This past season, he contributed 6.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and an impressive 2.4 blocks per contest.

With Okpara in the portal, I think it’s fair to ask if Ohio State’s transfer class is a net positive or a net negative.



The additions of Bradshaw, Meechie Johnson and Micah Parrish have been excellent for Jake Diebler and his staff. Yet, the subtractions of Okpara, Roddy Gayle Jr. and Scotty Middleton have been far from it.

It’s possible the former three players can fill the void left behind by the latter, but it’s not guaranteed.

The only guarantee is that Ohio State will be without three of its top five players from last season. It will also be without Hardman, a player who could provide shooting off the bench – and in case you haven’t noticed, the Buckeyes don’t have many shooters on the roster at this point.

That reality is… not great… after promoting an interim coach.

Hopefully, Diebler and Co. can come up with solutions for their newfound problems because I need a relevant Ohio State men’s basketball team again.


 TOUR THE SHOE. Ohio Stadium is one of the most recognizable landmarks in college sports. This week, the Ohio State athletic department launched a new experience for Buckeye Nation to learn more about the stadium, also known as the Horseshoe, the Shoe and the House That Harley Built.

From an Ohio State press release:

Sign up for an Ohio Stadium Tour starting Monday, April 22, at 

Longer Hours; More Stadium Access

Ohio Stadium will become more accessible to fans through this tour program, with the stadium staying open longer, weekend tours available and the ability to book a tour at the last minute, essentially right before a scheduled tour starts.

Two Tour Packages

Two tour packages are available:

A 60-minute Buckeye Basic Tour that costs $30 for adults and $20 for youth and will include visits to the field, press box, Huntington Club, NetJets Landing and the University/President’s Suite; and

An extended, 90-minute VIP Stadium Tour, costing $35 for adults and $25 for youth, that includes all of the basic tour locations in addition to touring the Buckeyes’ locker room, the recruiting room and the band center/rehearsal hall. 

Discounts will be offered for larger groups wanting to tour Ohio Stadium. A dedicated Group Tour Concierge staff has been assembled and can assist school groups, day camps and corporate outings.

Tour Gifts

Each tour guest will receive a commemorative Ohio Stadium Tour coin, with a new design specific to each new calendar year.

I feel blessed to have attended many Ohio State games in my lifetime. From ages 7 to 17, I attended games with my parents. From age 18 to 19, I attended games as a student. From age 20 to now, I have attended games as an Ohio State football beat reporter.

Even still, I have explored, like, 10% of the Shoe.

What do the locker room and recruiting halls look like? There’s a band center and rehearsal hall? What secrets lie inside the Huntington Club and NetJets Landing? How is life for Ted Carter in the University/President’s Suite?

I gots ta know!

Those who complete the tour, you gots ta let me know!

 IT’S NOT THAT DEEP. Over the weekend, former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel attended Notre Dame’s spring game to cheer on former Buckeye linebacker Marcus Freeman. Reporter Matt Fortuna spotted Tressel on the field after the game – which was a difficult task since Tressel was not in his usual scarlet sweater vest.

Because he wore blue and green colors and a Notre Dame logo, Tressel ruffled some feathers in the Ohio State online community on Saturday and Sunday.

Let’s stop for a second and remember: The person of interest here is Tressel. He is a national championship-winning head coach at Ohio State with a 9-1 record against “That Team Up North.” Ever since he left the program in 2010, he’s rooted for the Buckeyes, and he will continue to do so for the rest of his life.

Tressel’s appearance at Notre Dame’s spring game while wearing blue and green colors is less about his fanatical allegiances and more about the love he has for former players. 

One weekend, he could wear Notre Dame attire to support Freeman, and the following weekend, he could wear Valparaiso clothes to cheer on Mike Brewster – not because he’s a huge Fighting Irish or Beacons fan, but because he’s a great coach, a great mentor and a great friend.

It’s that simple!

 REUNION TIME? Paris Johnson Jr., the Cardinals’ No. 6 overall pick in the 2023 draft, recently returned to Columbus for Ohio State’s spring game. As he walked the halls at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, reminiscing on his three-year career with the Buckeyes, Johnson bumped into Harrison – who, if I had to guess, was headed for the indoor practice field to catch passes off his Monarc Seeker machine.

Johnson told Harrison that his future lies in The Valley of the Sun.

"We've been talking about it since then," Johnson told Josh Weinfuss of ESPN. "He definitely said he would love to be a Cardinal."

Weinfuss’ article, which stated that Harrison could fill the void that future Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald left behind in Arizona when he retired in 2020, featured more quotes from Johnson about the impact Harrison has made on him and his teammates at Ohio State.

[Harrison] operates, if not in silence, then close to it, according to Johnson.

It wasn't rare for Harrison to be running routes when Johnson arrived at the Buckeyes football facility at 6 a.m. to eat breakfast. And it wasn't rare for Harrison to be catching passes from quarterbacks at 6 p.m. after practice when his teammates were already back in their rooms.

"I've watched him change the leadership of the receiver room himself without saying words," Johnson said. "I know Marvin don't talk. Marvin, he'll smile, laugh. He'll say a few words. He kind of keeps to himself. Obviously, he talks, he definitely talks to his receivers, his quarterbacks, but he's kind of reserved."

Johnson has seen everything everybody else has: The catches, the plays, the touchdowns, the moves. It's why he considers him "the GOAT."

"Work ethic, that's what it is," Johnson said. "People think it's his genes or it's his height, his strength, speed."

What's the old adage?

Hard work beats talent when the talent fails to work hard?

Harrison is talented and he works hard. That's what makes him special.

I, for one, would love to see Harrison reunite with Johnson in Arizona. I hope to see him land there on Thursday during the first round of the NFL draft.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “Gold On The Ceiling” - Black Keys.

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