E. Gordon Gee , a serial university president, now speaks for Ohio State. Just before Thanksgiving, he told Associated Press why Boise State and Texas Christian don’t deserve consideration for college football’s Bowl Championship Series (BCS):
“Well, I don’t know enough about the Xs and Os of college football,” said Gee…. “I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it’s like murderer’s row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day. So I think until a university runs through that gantlet that there’s some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to [be] in the big ballgame.”
“If you put a gun to my head and said, ‘What are you going to do about a playoff system (if) the BCS system as it now exists goes away?’ I would vote immediately to go back to the bowl system,” he said.
“It’s not about this incessant drive to have a national championship because I think that’s a slippery slope to professionalism,” he said. “I’m a fan of the bowl system and I think that by and large it’s worked very, very well.”
Were Gee a college football fan, that opinion would make him almost unique. As a university president with the nation’s largest athletic program, it’s quite understandable. Boise State, which has tried to schedule home-and-home series with BCS conference teams, did not take well Gee’s remarks. In a follow-up story, AP reported:
…[Boise State President Bob] Kustra had Ohio State’s last two schedules in front of him … and said, “If they’re not playing the Little Sisters of the Poor, they’re playing the Little Brothers.”
“The formula these days for BCS teams is get seven or eight home games, play one non-conference game against a team from another BCS league, schedule three or four patsies and try not to leave the state if you can help it,” he said.
Sound pretty harsh? This year, Ohio State played four non-conference teams – all in Columbus. Miami (Florida – these days, I have to be clear it wasn’t Miami of Ohio) was well regarded. But Marshall, Ohio University and Eastern Michigan? They gave up 154 points to the Buckeyes while scoring 120 less. OSU played four away games.
Next year, the Bucks open with Akron and Toledo in Columbus. How long will it be before their natural cross-town rival, Ohio Dominican, appears on the schedule?
A holy day of obligation has marked each of my 65 Novembers: the Ohio State – Michigan game. But tomorrow, I will give it a miss, probably. I think my grandfather, class of 1900, will forgive me. Gordon Gee’s defensiveness and crassness has torn it.
If I learnt nothing else in three years at OSU’s law school, it was to follow the money. What I don’t need to hear the week of the game is Gordon Gee saying it’s only about the money. [Update: According to the ABC announcers on the OSU-Michigan broadcast, a school in the top BCS bowl received $13 million while the Humanitarian Bowl to which the now once defeated Boise State would likely be relegated would earn $750,000.]
Leave me, please, my delusions about scholar-athletes and the origins of the muscle cars behind the Beta House. Leave me my memories of Ohio Stadium when it was a horseshoe, when the governor and the vice president of the United States sat in the stands with 81,000 of us, and when the ‘Best Damn Band in the Land’ marched all through half-time.
Let me savour my delusions and glowing memories each November in front of the television at home or in a sports bar or over the phone with my despairing sons. Just don’t embarrass me, Gordon Gee. Don’t embarrass me.