Skull Session: Ohio State Fans Feel Confident in Ryan Day Before 2024, ESPN Regrades the Buckeyes’ Jake Diebler Hire and Jacy Sheldon Will Compete at Start of WNBA Career

By Chase Brown on May 20, 2024 at 5:00 am
Ryan Day

Welcome to the Skull Session.

Remember this?

Sixteen feet above the press box?!

I need to see this happen again!

Have a good Monday.

 WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA? EA Sports revealed its trailer for EA Sports College Football 25 last week. When I watched it for the first time, I had goosebumps for one minute and 51 seconds. However, those goosebumps faded when I realized — like many Ohio State fans soon after the reveal — that EA seemingly dissed the Buckeyes in the trailer.

Ohio State, the most prominent brand in college football, was referenced three times in the trailer. (I’ll call it four times since EA also showed former Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord in a Syracuse uniform). Here is a look at all of them:

Donovan Edwards stiff-arms Lathan Ransom

Michigan Stiff-Arm

Kyle McCord hands the ball off

Kyle McCord

Brutus pounds his head

Brutus Buckeye

Illinois hoists the Illibuck


*Note: Illinois has not won the Illibuck since 2007.

What does EA have against Ohio State? Some members of Buckeye Nation discovered a potential reason over the weekend. 

When EA announced it would develop the next college football video game, one of its first hires was Rob Jones. In an ESPN article that came out between Jones’ hire and the trailer’s release, the Worldwide Leader called Jones “a devout Michigan fan with memorabilia all over his office.” 

… It doesn't take the brilliant investigative work of the Mosby Boys to connect the dots there.

While most Ohio State fans have made Jones a persona non-grata, I kind of respect him—that is, if he really was the one who dissed the Buckeyes in the trailer. 

You see, if the executive director of arts for EA were a devout Ohio State fan (instead of a devout Michigan fan like Jones), I’d want them to diss the Wolverines like how Jones dissed the Buckeyes. After all, this is the greatest rivalry in all of sports, and when there’s ammo available to shoot at our rivals, we shoot and shoot and shoot until there are no bullets left to fire.

So, yes, it stinks that the Local Team looked poor in the trailer. But Ohio State can silence Michigan and its fans this fall when the Buckeyes look to snap a three-game losing streak to the Wolverines on Nov. 30. If and when they do, we can all have a good laugh about that trailer.

 THE MAN FOR THE JOB? Around 600 people participated in The Athletic’s Ohio State fan survey conducted by beat reporter Cameron Teague Robinson last week. Those people offered their perspectives on the program’s current outlook and predicted its future in the 2024 college football season.

While several of the survey’s results are worthy of examination — such as who will win Ohio State’s quarterback competition and who will be the Buckeyes’ MVP in 2024 — the results that stood out the most revolved around the respondents' confidence in Ryan Day and where the Buckeyes are headed with him at the helm.

What will Ohio State’s regular-season record be?

  • 12-0: 55.1%
  • 11-1: 40.8%
  • 10-2: 3.1%
  • 9-3: 0.6%
  • 8-4: 0.4%

Who will win the Big Ten this season?

  • Ohio State: 92.1%
  • Oregon: 5.1%
  • Michigan: 1.5%
  • Penn State: 0.5%
  • Other: 0.2%

How confident are you in Ryan Day this season?

  • Very confident: 40.2%
  • Somewhat confident: 39.4%
  • Neutral: 8.2%
  • Somewhat concerned: 6.6%
  • Very concerned: 5.6%

In addition to the final response I included above, Teague Robinson asked readers to share what would improve their confidence in Day in 2024 and explain what a successful season would be for the Buckeyes this fall. The first question received a popular response of “Beat Michigan” — go figure — but the second garnered different answers.

What would a successful season be for Ohio State?

  • Big Ten title, national title game appearance: 48.6%
  • National championship: 28.5%
  • Beating Michigan is all that matters: 12.3%
  • Big Ten title, CFP quarterfinal appearance: 9.8%
  • CFP appearance: 0.8%

It’s been the message all offseason here at Ohio State’s main mission this season is to beat “That Team Up North.” The Buckeyes’ other missions are to win a Big Ten title and a national championship. To be clear, that doesn’t mean Ohio State shouldn’t strive for Big Ten and College Football Playoff trophies this fall — just that those pieces of hardware would feel less impactful without a win over its rivals on Nov. 30 in Columbus.

So how can Day improve his reputation in Buckeye Nation?

Just beat Michigan.

For all that is holy, just beat Michigan.

(And then win the Big Ten and the College Football Playoff — that, too).

 REPORT CARD SZN. When Ohio State promoted Jake Diebler from interim to full-time head coach, Myron Medcalf of ESPN graded the hire as a C+. A couple of months later, in an article where Medcalf reassessed his grades of over 65 hires in Division I college basketball, he felt the same about Diebler’s promotion, delivering a second consecutive C+.

Pros: After assuming the interim head coach role when Chris Holtmann was fired late last season, Diebler — the 37-year-old brother of former Ohio State standout Jon Diebler — led the Buckeyes to an 8-3 record (5-1 in the Big Ten) to finish the campaign. That was enough to help him earn a full-time job. Weeks into his tenure, he has attracted former South Carolina star Meechie Johnson and other key transfers to Columbus.

Cons: This was a difficult job for Division I veterans Thad Matta and Holtmann. Diebler has never had a head-coaching gig. To start in the Big Ten — which will add four former Pac-12 squads next season — as his first head-coaching job is a tall task. The run he put together to get the job will be far different from the demands he'll face to sustain it season after season.

Initial grade: C+
Grade now: C+

I don’t believe Medcalf gave Diebler enough credit for the other two five-stars Diebler has landed since he became full-time head coach: Aaron Bradshaw, a 7-foot-1 center and the No. 5 overall prospect in the 2023 class, and Sean Stewart, a 6-foot-9 forward and the No. 22 overall prospect in the 2023 class. Had Medcalf unpacked those additions rather than calling them “key transfers,” I think he would have learned that the Diebler hire has looked better and better as the offseason has continued and given it a better grade.

Alas, Medcalf did not.

What a shame.

 “I’M A COMPETITOR.” In her final season at Ohio State, Jacy Sheldon averaged 17.8 points, 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game and earned first-team All-Big Ten and second-team AP All-American honors. Through two games with the Dallas Wings — the team that selected her with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft — Sheldon has collected three points, 2.5 rebounds and one assist in 13 minutes per contest. 

While those are not the averages Sheldon is accustomed to, the Dublin, Ohio, native has not backed down from the challenges she’s faced (and will face) in the professional league.

“I’m a competitor, man,” Sheldon told Shawn McFarland of The Dallas Morning News last week. “I just want to go out there and get a win. No matter the drill, no matter the play. I just want to compete. That’s what competitors like.”

Wings president Greg Bibb loves Sheldon’s mindset. It’s why he believes she can be crucial to the franchise's upward growth.

“She has stepped in from day one and looks like she belongs here,” Bibb said. “And that’s not always a given, even for the most talented players. High compete level, quicker, faster than I even anticipated, and comfortable with the ball in her hands. Everything we were hoping for, we’re seeing.”

Bibb loves to see it.

I love to see it.

We all love to see it.

I have no doubt that Sheldon will come around in the WNBA. She’s such a great defender that she’ll start to see the floor more and more as the season continues. From there, production on the offensive end will follow. It’s only a matter of time.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “WALLS” - Kings of Leon

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