As I’m sure you’re well aware of, my tenure at WKXL is coming to a close quickly. I will have another blog on that posted on Sunday or Monday at the latest. WKXL has been Concord’s home to top news, political coverage and sports for sixty years, and under the leadership of Chris Ryan, I expect it to continue. On to the blog…
As we all know, this has not been a good week for college administrators. From Rutgers AD Julie Hermann being pounded by the media before even starting the job, to Ohio State President Gordon Gee taking shots at Notre Dame, the SEC, the state of Kentucky and an entire religious group. Nice. While Gee probably never wanted the recorded conversation to go public, it did, and that’s what leads me to write this blog. The lesson learned, as far as I’m concerned, is that in this day in age nothing you say is safe, and Gee looks like a fool.
First of all, the Gee comments, which were obtained and reported by the AP include: “The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week”. That’s pretty bad, but comparatively speaking, it’s not awful. He continued to say, “You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that”. That is bad. During this meeting, in which Gee also reportedly took shots at the Southeastern Conference for not being academically up to par (also grouping the University of Louisville, a BIG EAST/American Athletic Association and future ACC school, in with them), he felt as if his words would never be heard by anyone else. Bad move, Gordon. It’s 2013. With inventions such as Facebook, Twitter, talk radio, Sports Night Blogs and YouTube, it is inevitable that anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of the World Wide Web.
Gee, like SO many other public figures, who say stupid and insensitive things, issued an apology. Notre Dame, supposedly, accepted his apology. The reason I take such an offense to this, and I am not catholic, is because I think Gee, is the real idiot. Lets take a look at Gee’s work (especially in the field of athletics, where a majority of a school’s revenue is created).
At Vanderbilt, Gee’s teams were constant failures within the vaunted Southeastern Conference. In 11 years at the helm in Nashville, you want to know how many of Gee’s football teams were eligible for postseason play? That’s right, absolutely zero. Gee also came under fire for lavishly using University funds on himself and dealt with his wife’s marijuana issues (FYI, regardless of whether or not you think it should or should not be, marijuana is still illegal in Tennessee) within the confines of his University- furnished home. Not good considering that Vanderbilt is probably the most respected academic school south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Since Gee has left, Vanderbilt has undergone a resurgence both in the community and on the athletic fields. This, is in thanks to what new Chancellor Nick Zeppos has brought to the table. Since Zeepos has come aboard, Vanderbilt has been to three bowl games. The football program won nine games in a conference that hasn’t lost a BCS National Championship since, well, Gee was there in 2006. Zeppos has also overseen his Men’s basketball program win an SEC tournament title, which they never did under Gee, and make a trip to the College World Series, which Gee, once again, swung and missed on. Needless to say, Vanderbilt is a better place since he left. Yes, I believe Zeppos is an outstanding administrator; maybe even one of the most underrated in America, but Gee is truly awful.
Let’s examine Ohio State’s football program since Gee took over…He inherited a team, in 2006-07, that participated in the BCS National Championship Game. In his first year, he started off with a bang, as his Buckeyes participated in another National Title Game, however, this time, another SEC squad crushed them, LSU. Since then, the program, which has constantly received high pre-season rankings has been embarrassed on the field and in the tattoo parlor. Yes, I went there. Legendary coach, Jim Tressel, who took Ohio State to their last BCS title (one which came into question because star running Maurice Clarett accepted gifts, etc. from agents), was fired amidst lying to the NCAA, amongst other things. Star Quarterback, Terrell Pryor was exiled to the NFL, and Ohio State went on probation. Last year, the Buckeyes went 12-0, and 1) they weren’t bowl eligible and 2) no one honestly believed they could beat Alabama anyway. Needless to say, for those of you scoring at home, in the last two years the bowl score is: Vanderbilt 2, Ohio State 0.
Gee, in this case, is clearly the jealous pre-teen who decides to rip on everyone, because he needs to make himself feel better. The BIG 10 hasn’t won anything in a long time. Instead, it has endured constant controversy. Whether it is the mess at Rutgers (scheduled to enter the BIG 10 in 2014), the disgusting scandal at Penn State, Ohio State’s tattoo issues, or Kelvin Sampson’s impermissible phone calls, the BIG 10 really is becoming the laughingstock of American college sports.
Louisville, for example, is another school that Gee believes inferior to his own. However, athletically, Louisville has gone leaps and bounds over anything Ohio State has done recently. Louisville won the Allstate Sugar Bowl in January and the National Championship in Men’s basketball months later. Louisville’s women’s basketball team, which finished second, is led by head coach Jeff Walz. Why does this matter? Because according to multiple reports, Ohio State was targeting Walz for their coaching vacancy. Walz quashed this with a declaration to the Louisville Courier-Journal by saying, “I have a great situation here (Louisville)”. Swing and miss, Gordon.
From an academic standpoint, I don’t know the precise rankings. Surely BIG 10 schools, with Northwestern leading the way, probably rank higher than those of the SEC schools or Louisville, but does that really matter? Not anymore. These schools don’t make their money based upon their academic ranking. They make it at the gate on fall Saturday’s and by appearing on television screens across America. Why else would the BIG 10 accept Nebraska into the conference? Oh yeah, I forgot, academics (I hope you can sense the sarcasm in my voice). I attended Louisville, and I had the chance to attend Ohio State as well. I think I made the best choice for myself. I was certainly not the smartest person in my classes at Louisville, and I’d like to consider myself rather intelligent.
I have nothing against the BIG 10, nor anything against Ohio State. Honestly, I don’t really have anything against Gee, either. I just think it’s ridiculous that he is putting the BIG 10 on a pedestal it doesn’t belong on. When we are young and say something stupid, we are often reminded of the saying-posed as a question, “If your mother heard it, would you say it?” In our day in age, in which everything we say is dissected, recorded and replayed, everyone must change that saying to “If America heard it, would you say it?” I think Gee would not. And the reason for that is that he wouldn’t want his seething and unwarranted jealousy spread around ESPN and the rest of the sports world like it has been.