Skull Session: Urban Meyer Says NIL Has Evolved Into “Cheating,” Archie Griffin Will Receive Rose Bowl Statue in August and Ryan Day Favors CFP Expansion – With One Caveat

By Chase Brown on May 14, 2024 at 5:00 am
Urban Meyer

Welcome to the Skull Session.

Tom Ryan was back at the Jennings Wrestling Facility on Monday.

You love to see it.

Have a good Tuesday.

 “IT’S CHEATING.” Former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz made himself a persona non grata in Buckeye Nation when he called Ohio State and head coach Ryan Day soft. Those comments, of course, led to Day’s now-famous rant where he said, “I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHERE LOU HOLTZ IS RIGHT NOW.”

He continued, “What he said about our team, I cannot believe. This is a tough team right here. We’re proud to be from Ohio. It’s always been Ohio against the world, and it will continue to be Ohio against the world. But I’ll tell you what. I love those kids. We have a tough team.”

Holtz later doubled down on his comments and said, “I don’t feel bad for saying it because I believe it.”

Then, we never really heard from him again. That was probably a good thing.

But here we are, seven months later, and I am about to discuss Lou Holtz again in the Skull Session. 

Well, kind of.

I will discuss former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer’s recent comments on NIL, which happened to occur on the Lou Holtz Podcast. (I have to ask: Who listens to the Lou Holtz Podcast? Who says, 'Man, I can’t wait for the next episode of the Lou Holtz Podcast?').

In his appearance on Holtz’s show, Meyer condemned the way programs and universities use NIL, describing the current practice as “cheating.”

“I think NIL – and I sat in those committees for many, many years – I think it’s great,” Meyer said. “I think if it’s capitalism, for example, if a great player like Marvin Harrison Jr. and some car dealership in town wants to hire him, they want to put his name on a billboard and pay him money, sign autographs, he wants to put something on an Instagram or they sell that…but that’s not what’s happened, Coach. What’s happened is it’s cheating.”

In the past, Meyer has voiced his support for established stars in college athletics to capitalize off the value they’ve created for themselves. However, the three-time national champion head coach believes the original intent of NIL has gone awry because it benefits incoming high school recruits or transfers who have yet to prove themselves at a particular program.

“America is built on name and likeness,” Meyer explained. “If Lou Holtz or Urban Meyer or Marvin Harrison Jr. and C.J. Stroud want to go use their name and help sell cars or help a business, that’s great. But to have a 17-year-old demand money for a visit or to pay these players a lot of money to go visit a charity for 20 minutes and they write a check for $50,000, that’s cheating. That’s not what this is all about. I’m very disappointed in where it went.”

After some back-and-forth banter with Holtz, Meyer criticized the role of collectives in college sports.

“If you’re a woman basketball player like the great girl from Iowa (Caitlin Clark) and they want to put her on a billboard and pay her, they should be able to do that,” he said. “But that’s not what happened. What’s happened is the arms race of collecting money from donors and the donors are simply paying players. That’s what I understand is happening, and I don’t like that.”

I’m not sure I do, either.

But let’s face it. That’s the reality in college athletics.

No matter how many Urban Meyers of the world express their distaste for the current state of NIL, I don’t see a sheriff coming along to clean up the Wild, Wild, West anytime soon – especially now that the NCAA could be on the hook for BILLIONS of dollars in antitrust settlements in the near future.

 THAT’S WHY HE’S THE GOAT.  Many moons ago, Eleven Warriors reported that Ohio State football legend Archie Griffin would receive a statue outside of Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, that will honor Griffin – college football’s only two-time Heisman Trophy winner – as one of the all-time great performers in the Rose Bowl Game.

Over the weekend, the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation announced that Griffin’s statue dedication has been scheduled for Aug. 17 at 11 a.m. The event will be open to the public.

“I am humbled to have a statue in my honor at the Rose Bowl Stadium, one of the most prestigious stadiums in America. I feel blessed to have played in four Rose Bowl Games,” Griffin said in a February press release. “Please know that when you honor me with this recognition, you also honor the teams that I played on during my four years at The Ohio State University. I was simply in the right place at the right time with the right people. That’s what allowed me to enjoy the success that my teammates and I experienced. Again, I am extremely grateful to be honored in this manner.”

The Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation will dedicate Griffin’s statue as part of its new Legends Walk. Adjacent to the stadium’s Court of Champions, the Legends Walk will educate visitors on the 19 Heisman Trophy winners to perform in the Rose Bowl Game. Led by Griffin’s four appearances in Pasadena, players from Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA, USC and Wisconsin will be honored in the Legends Walk.

“Archie Griffin is one of the greatest players in college football history, and we applaud the Rose Bowl Stadium for erecting his statue as part of the new Legends Walk at the stadium,” National Football Foundation president and CEO Steve Hatchell said in a May press release. “As a College Football Hall of Fame inductee and a long-standing member of the National Football Foundation board of directors, he has dedicated his life to promoting and protecting the game. Archie’s statue will serve as a fitting tribute to a man whose legacy is something we can all celebrate.”

Indeed, Griffin is someone all college football fans should celebrate – but especially those who root for the Buckeyes.

Griffin is the gold standard for Ohio State greatness. Across four seasons from 1972-75, Griffin rushed for 5,589 yards and 25 touchdowns, becoming a three-time All-American for the Buckeyes. He gained 412 of those yards in the Rose Bowl, including 149 yards in his 1974 appearance.

A Columbus native and Eastmoor High School graduate, Griffin is Ohio State’s career rushing yards leader and career leader in rushing yards per game (121.5) with an incredible 34 100-yard rushing games. Griffin also holds the NCAA record for most consecutive 100-yard games with 31 in a row from 1973-75.

In other words, Griffin is the GOAT. (But, seriously, he’s actually the GOAT).

I am pleased to know he will be honored as such at the Rose Bowl, where college football will forever play the Granddaddy of Them All.

 THE CFP’S NEXT STEPS. In an ESPN article titled “College Football Spring Buzz,” Heather Dinich and Adam Rittenberg explored recent developments in the sport, including how new coaches have fit in at their schools, offseason quarterback competitions, 2024 breakout candidates, the future of spring football and the latest College Football Playoff buzz.

Regarding the final topic, Dinich mentioned Brett Yormark’s comments at the Fiesta Spring Summit in which the Big 12 commissioner said leaders from power conferences have not determined a CFP format for 2026 and beyond. She then included a quote from Ryan Day in which the Ohio State head coach revealed he doesn’t have a strong opinion on whether college football should have a 12-team or 14-team playoff – unless it means more Big Ten teams receive automatic bids to the tournament.

"I do feel like when you look at the Big Ten right now, at 18 teams — great teams in the conference — the more automatic qualifiers we can get for the Big Ten, the better," Day told ESPN. "I think we deserve quite a few automatic qualifiers. I know [Big Ten commissioner] Tony Petitti is working really hard to talk about those and advocate for the conference. If getting to 14 means one more automatic qualifier for the Big Ten, then I'm all in support of it."

If Day and Ohio State want more automatic qualifiers for the Big Ten, the chances the league will receive them are high. The same would be true if Kalen DeBoer, Steve Sarkisian, Brian Kelly or Lane Kiffin helped SEC commissioner Greg Sankey advocate for more automatic qualifiers from their league. (They’re probably already doing this behind closed doors). 

As such, if the Big Ten and SEC both receive more automatic qualifiers, my assumption is the Big 12 and ACC would suffer the consequences.

Or, in other words, the Big 12 and the ACC would be cooked. Would that then be the beginning of the Super League?

 I HAVE INDIANA FEVER. Celeste Taylor has earned her roster spot on the Indiana Fever as a second-round pick in 2024.

On Monday, the Fever announced Taylor as one of 13 players to make the franchise’s season opener against the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday. She is one of two rookies on the roster, along with No. 1 overall draft pick Caitlin Clark.

Taylor joins fellow Ohio State women’s basketball alum Kelsey Mitchell on Indiana’s roster. Mitchell ranks first in Ohio State program history with 3,402 career points. The Fever selected her with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 WNBA draft, and she will enter her seventh season in the league in 2024.

A strong finish to the preseason helped Taylor earn a spot on the opening night roster. Alongside Clark and Grace Berger, Taylor kicked off a 22-8 Fever run that cut into a 15-point deficit against the Atlanta Dream. In the process, Taylor scored six points, including two from a putback at the buzzer. Indiana later completed the comeback win in the second half. Head coach Christie Sides complimented Taylor in the postgame press conference.

“I really was impressed with Celeste,” Sides said. “She’s learning to be a good defender. I know some of her habits that were at Ohio State are different than how we want to play. So we’ve got to break those habits. We had a swing-swing, good-to-great, she nailed that three — that was great. She’s looking to crash (the glass). And she communicates so well. … I was really impressed with her.”

At Ohio State, Taylor averaged 10,1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.5 steals per game in 32 appearances. After the 2023-24 regular season, Taylor was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and also received second-team All-Big Ten honors from the conference’s coaches and media.

Note: Jacy Sheldon made the Wings roster, too!

 SONG OF THE DAY. “The Scientist” - Coldplay.

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