Skull Session: Rob Mullens Didn’t Say Oregon Will Plant a Flag in Ohio Stadium, Ohio State’s Top Non-Title Teams, and Looking at Ohio’s NIL Bill


I promised y’all early and I’m a man of my word.

I owe you three hours, but 1:59 a.m. was just a bit too early – it wouldn’t even be tomorrow on the West Coast by publish time. So I decided to split it and give you 3:30 a.m. twice.

Same time tomorrow, folks.

Word of the Day: Glissade.

 NO, HE DIDN’T SAY THAT. It’s not often I feel any sort of moral responsibility in my sports posting job, but after seeing how much traction the following Tweet got yesterday, I feel like I need to clear something up.

Listen, if Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens actually went on the radio and said he wanted the Pac-12 to plant a flag in Ohio Stadium, I would have had that shit posted on the front page of this website with a gigantic blockquote within ten minutes. You can count on that.

But if you notice, that quote is nowhere to be found on Eleven Warriors dot com. And that’s because Mullens never said it. Honestly, he didn’t even come close to saying anything like that, nor was anything he said even remotely provocative or frankly, all that interesting.

In fact, if you’re a regular reader of the Skull Session, you already read the quote in question two days ago, and you likely thought it was completely innocuous and totally uncontroversial (and most notably, free of any language that includes « flag-planting »).

Here it is again:

“This league has won more national championships when you combine all sports, than anybody,” Mullens said. “But at the end of the day, because of the visibility of football, that carries a disproportionate share of all of these college conferences. We have to take advantage of our opportunities. A lot of those come in the postseason, but we’re going to have some great opportunities in the non-conference segment this fall. We’ll have one, even though its game two and we’re focused on game one Ryan….but the chance to take a trip to Ohio State, we would’ve loved to have them last year, but the chance to go out and compete against what many believe will be a top three, top five team on the road, will give us a chance to show what Pac-12 football is like.”

That’s it. That’s the whole quote. There is nothing else.

To be clear, I don’t blame jbook here. The writer of the article he linked is truly the one at fault for his sloppy-at-best, overly creative paraphrase which, in all fairness, did make it seem like Mullens was telling the world that the Pac-12 was going to plant a flag in the ‘Shoe.

In reality, though, it was just a poor paraphrase and a joke that everyone took way too literally. Here’s what Phil Harrison of MSN.com wrote that got everyone stirred up:

While appearing on Sirius XM Radio with Ryan Leaf and Guy Haberman, Mullens said Oregon needs to take advantage of the trip to the banks of the Olentangy and plant a proverbial Pac-12 flag into the turf (no offense Baker Mayfield)

See, he didn’t mean that Mullens literally said Oregon was going to plant a Pac-12 flag into the turf. He was just offering what he thought was a humorous paraphrase of what he actually did say.

So put those pitchforks down and find another reason to want to beat Oregon into the turf, cause this ain’t it.

 BEST TO NEVER DO IT.  Not every all-time great team ends the season with a national title, but ESPN’s making sure to give those teams a little recognition, ranking the top college football teams to never win a natty.

And regretfully, the Buckeyes are on the list twice.

19-18. 1973 Michigan and 1973 Ohio State

Records: 10-0-1 and 10-0-1
AP rank: sixth and second, respectively

Arguably Ohio State’s three biggest wins over Michigan: 30-27 in 2016, 42-39 in 2006 … and 10-10 in 1973. The No. 4 Wolverines missed two field goals in the final 30 seconds against top-ranked Ohio State in Ann Arbor, and the next day Big Ten athletic directors voted to send the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl instead of the Wolverines despite the fact that OSU had been there the year before.

Most ADs publicly cited an injury to Michigan QB Dennis Franklin as the major reason for the vote. UM head coach Bo Schembechler cried conspiracy until his dying day. Regardless, both of these programs were at their outright peak in 1973. In the 20 games that weren’t against each other, they outscored opponents 723-112. That includes OSU’s 42-21 destruction of USC in the Rose Bowl. Michigan probably would have done something similar.

13. 2019 Ohio State

Record: 13-1
AP rank: third

We remember Ryan Day’s 2019 Buckeyes primarily for the game they lost: a controversial and utterly magnificent 29-23 defeat against Clemson that sent the Tigers to the CFP final against LSU. But what OSU did in its first 13 games made it an all-time great. It won its first 10 games by an average of 52-10, then beat three straight top-10 teams — Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin — by an average of 17 points to get to Clemson. Justin Fields threw for 3,273 yards, J.K. Dobbins rushed for 2,003 and DE Chase Young was the best defender in the country. An unreal team with an unfortunate ending.

I’m nowhere near old enough to have even been thought of during the 1973 college football season, so I don’t really have particular thoughts to give besides that ties are close to the most un-American thing you could possibly have in sports.

However, I do have a far-too-strong memory of that 2019 semifinal seared into my brain, and I can confirm that the 2019 Buckeyes were absolutely stacked, and I think that’s going to become clearer and clearer as time goes on.

 NOT ALL NIL IS CREATED EQUAL. The good news is, Ohio finally put together a name, image and likeness bill that will have the Buckeye state ready to roll once other states’ NIL laws start to go into effect.

The bad news is, Ohio’s NIL bill ain’t exactly perfect.

2) The bill requires athletes to give schools a 15-day notice before entering into any potential agreement. That’s longer than any state bill I’ve read. The reason, if I am reading it correctly, is to give schools time to see if the athlete’s proposed deal conflicts with any existing university sponsorship deals. That matters because…

3) The bill also says that athletes can’t enter into deals that would conflict with existing sponsorship deals.

How big a deal is that? Well, it depends.

… An Ohio State spokesperson told me he’s working on trying to track down exactly how many sponsorships Ohio State has, but it’s safe to assume that number is slightly larger than whatever Mt.Union has lined up.

Could Ohio State, if they wanted, structure those deals to not limit potential NIL activity? Probably. But if they wanted to really enforce their IP and existing contracts, the NIL law, as currently stated, could give them the tools to substantially shrink the number of local industries and clients that could work with Buckeye athletes.

In my view, a better compromise would simply be to restrict athletes from securing NIL deals with competing firms that required them to advertise during official team activities. I think it’s reasonable for a Nike school to tell their basketball players they can’t wear New Balance during basketball games. But if a kid wants to do an ad for their local IGA, even though Kroger is the official grocery store of Ohio State sports? Well, maybe that doesn’t have to be banned.

I can totally foresee this turning into an absolute disaster really quickly.

On one hand, Ohio State’s going to want to provide their players ample opportunity to capitalize on their name, image and likeness. On the other hand, the university has an extremely eager team of lawyers ready to protect the #brand at moment’s notice, and this is inevitably going to lead to some friendly fire.

It kind of warms my heart to think that in the very near future, some Buckeye player is going to get hit with their cease and desist letter from Ohio State’s notoriously aggressive patent and trademark office. Remember, y’all asked for this!

 COOP’S ENERAGE. Jonathon Cooper’s cheering section is officially geared up and ready for the upcoming season.

I must say, the vintage threads is an excellent choice. If you’re going to have an entire neighborhood cheering you on, you better make sure they look good.

 SONG OF THE DAY. « Crocodile Rock » by Elton John.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. A murderer possibly facing the death penalty says he’s « ready to die like B.I.G. »… The endless and thankless task of making my cats lose weight… I get paid to do homework for students all around the world… A woman is arrested for masturbating in someone else’s parked car and refusing to stop… Indians pitcher Zach Plesac breaks his thumb after ‘aggressively’ removing his shirt… A love of Stilton cheese leads to the downfall of a prolific British drug dealer…