Skull Session: Fielding Yost Sabotaged Ohio State in 1922, the Buckeyes Are An Elite Team and Zach Harrison is Playing His Best Football in Year Four

One. More. sleeping

It’s time for Ohio State to beat Michigan. Whatever it takes.

Let’s have a good Friday, shall we?

SABOTAGE. Buckeye fans have long wondered whether Michigan’s famed football coach, Fielding Yost, played a part in ruining Ohio State’s 1922 season by derailing it four days before the Buckeyes took the field for their first game.

According to letters uncovered by Neal E. Boudette of The New York Times, he absolutely, unequivocally did, and Boudette proved it in his latest article:

Michigan and Ohio State, which meet on Saturday as they jockey for national championship contention, have one of the most intense and deeply rooted rivalries in American sports.

Yet the origin of that animosity has long been debated. Never was the rivalry more heated than in the epic “Ten Year War” from 1969 to 1978, when Bo Schembechler coached Michigan against his former mentor, Woody Hayes. Some historians also point to a 34-0 thrashing by Ohio State in 1934, when the Buckeyes started the tradition of awarding small pendants to players to commemorate each victory over Michigan.

But correspondence from the schools’ archives recently discovered by The New York Times gives new insight to an even earlier tale, one of treachery and revenge stemming from the 1922 game, giving new fuel to a century-old feud.

The letters show that Michigan’s coach, Fielding Yost, had learned from an alumnus that Ohio State’s star quarterback going into the 1922 season was ineligible to play and that Yost strategically took steps behind the scenes that led to the athlete’s disqualification just days before the season started .

When the rivalry game hit later that season, Michigan won, 19-0, spoiling the opening fanfare of the newly built horseshoe-shaped Ohio Stadium.

Yost, called an “evil genius” by Michigan football historian John U. Bacon, was so discreet in his steps to sabotage Ohio State that when Boudette contacted spokespeople from both programs, they were unaware of the background of the 1922 game and that Yost played a part in the disqualification of Ohio State’s quarterback.

Here’s how Yost got away with it – at least for 100 years:

The Buckeyes had high hopes going into the 1922 season, with its offense powered by Noel Workman, a quarterback from West Virginia who was nicknamed Dopey, and his brother Harry, a halfback. The Workman brothers chose Ohio State over Michigan in 1919.

But about a week before the season began, Ohio State announced some crushing news. Evidence had surfaced that Noel Workman, the quarterback, was no longer eligible to play college football because he played at a small West Virginia school in 1917. Players were limited to three seasons of eligibility at the time, and Workman had reached that limit with one season in West Virginia and two at Ohio State. The final decision to disqualify Workman was made by John L. Griffith, the commissioner for the Big Ten, who was responsible for enforcing eligibility rules.

The decision, said Ohio State’s student newspaper, The Lantern, deprived Ohio State of “the most uncanny quarterback” in the conference and “the man on whom most of his faith was pinned this season.” The team’s coach, John Wilce, moved Harry Workman to quarterback, and the Buckeyes’ offense sputtered early in the season. And against Michigan, before a crowd of more than 70,000 fans packed into grandstands plus extra chairs and bleachers, Harry Workman threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown in Michigan’s rout.

The game was so lopsided that Buckeyes fans began heading for the exits in the third quarter, abandoning their new edifice to delirious Michigan supporters. Ohio State alumni “pulled out their eyebrows listening to them,” The Detroit Free Press reported. The Michigan band, along with some 5,000 Wolverines fans, marched through the streets of Columbus playing their fight song, “Hail to the Victors,” according to The Lansing State Journal.

As Boudette continued his article, he revealed discovered letters between a man named Lou Barringer and Yost. The men were friends, and Barringer had even pushed for Noel Workman to attend Michigan to play football before he chose Ohio State.

In Barringer’s letter, he shared evidence that Noel Workman had played a year of football at Bethany College in 1917 – a circumstance that was difficult to track at the time – which meant Workman would only be eligible for two seasons at Ohio State. This information, unknown to the Buckeyes, would be what Yost would use to derail his rival’s season before it began.

Yost wrote back to Barringer: “This matter will be treated entirely confidential as far as any names are concerned.”

By then, Yost had begun pushing the Big Ten Conference to appoint an athletic commissioner to enforce athlete eligibility rules. Yost’s candidate for the job – Griffith – filled the post in July.

Two months later, Ohio State began preseason practice with Noel Workman running his offense, unaware of what was brewing. Then, in a letter dated Oct. 3 – four days before Ohio State’s first game and 18 days before it was to face Michigan – Griffith wrote a letter informing the university that Noel Workman appeared to be ineligible for football.

Ohio State officials objected, but Griffith wouldn’t budge, and the Buckeyes were forced to figure out a new offense days before their season opener.

As mentioned above, Ohio State lost that game 19-0 to Michigan. And it was all because Yost played the long game, slowly working behind the scenes to make sure he could ruin an entire season for the Buckeyes.

devious stuff I mean, truly devious. But it’s things like that which make this rivalry so great. One hundred years later, Ohio State can avenge the loss the Buckeyes suffered because of such trickery, and it will be oh-so-cool when they do.

TO ELITE TEAM. Ohio State is an elite football team. We know it. Michigan knows it. The entire college football world knows it. But what makes the Buckeyes elite?

FOX’s Joel Klatt broke down some of the reasons why Ohio State has been so dominant this season and discussed how the team could use those things to their benefit in their battle with the Wolverines on Saturday.

Spoilers: This video talks a lot about CJ Stroud, Marvin Harrison Jr., Ryan Day, Jim Knowles and many other familiar names. But, honestly, it is really that surprising that these names are associated with the word “elite”?

I can’t wait to see all of those things play out this weekend. It will be pure joy.

ZACH HARRISON, EVERYONE. When Zach Harrison arrived on campus as a top-five recruit in 2019, he was seen as a player already on his way to becoming the next Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa or Chase Young. That’s not exactly how things turned out for the Lewis Center, Ohio, native.

In this week’s episode of Big Ten Network’s “The Journey,” Harrison told the story of his time at Ohio State. Now in his fourth season with the program, he’s realized that he never had to be the next Bosa or Young to make a significant impact for the Buckeyes – he only needed to be Zach Harrison.

Ryan Day has said on more than one occasion this season that Harrison is playing the best football of his college career in 2022. On Wednesday’s The Ryan Day Radio Show, the Ohio State head coach took that thought a step further.

“I think he is one of the most powerful and most productive defensive ends in the country right now,” Day said.

And Day is right.

This season, Harrison has 26 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles, three pass deflections and an interception through 11 games. His production in recent weeks has been off the charts, especially against Maryland. Last weekend, Harrison collected five tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, including two sacks and a forced fumble on the Terps’ final offensive drive that led to a Steele Chambers touchdown and clinched a 43-30 win for Ohio State.

This – the stats, the impact, all of it – is what Zach Harrison can do for Ohio State when he plays within himself and doesn’t attempt to be something he’s not (ie a Bosa or Young). The Buckeyes will take what he’s offering seven days a week and twice on Saturdays.

Harrison will look to continue his spectacular season against Michigan this weekend in a matchup he calls “more than a game.”

I mean, seriously. Is there any better holiday for the Zeke – the man always looking to be fed – to feast than the one where we all stuff our faces with turkey, mashed potatoes and whatever other food we can fit on our plate?

I’ll answer that. No, there’s not.

Elliott logged his best performance of the year on Thursday, rushing for a season-high 92 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and adding one catch for 3 yards in the Cowboys’ 28-20 win over the New York Giants.

There’s been a lot of talk in recent seasons that Elliott is not the same running back that he used to be when he first broke into the league and is, therefore, “washed.” But with performances like the one against the Giants, I don’t think he’s slowing down anytime soon.

While Elliott is far from the same player he was in his first years in the NFL, he is also far from being washed. This season, Zeke has rushed 124 times for 485 yards and six touchdowns in nine games. The Cowboys are 8-3 and can reach the playoffs in a few months. The former Ohio State running back will play an integral role in some of Dallas’ biggest games to help them make the postseason, and he’s certainly up for the task.

After all, Elliott always played his best on the biggest stages while he was a Buckeye. Why would that have changed years later?

SONG OF THE DAY. “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys.

CUT TO THE CHASE. All we want for Christmas is… Spam Figgy Pudding?… Winston the French bulldog has won the National Dog Show… Steve Martin has no regrets about car rental tirade in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”… Robot Baristas take over a California cafe.

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