That’s the only way to explain athletic director Gene Smith’s asinine response Tuesday to the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions slapping the Buckeyes with a one-year post-season ban, the loss of nine scholarships over the next three years and three years of probation along with other penalties for football players receiving more than $16,400 in impermissible benefits.
“We are surprised and disappointed with the NCAA’s decision,” Smith said in a statement. “However, we have decided not to appeal the decision because we need to move forward as an institution. We recognize that this is a challenging time in intercollegiate athletics. Institutions of higher education must move to higher ground, and Ohio State embraces its leadership responsibilities and affirms its long-standing commitment to excellence in education and integrity in all it does.”
Hey, Gene, enough with the empty rhetoric, OK? As usual, you are in denial more than a third-world leader with eroding power.
You see, Ohio State’s Dumb (Smith) and Dumber (university president Gordon Gee) brain trust wanted the Committee on Infractions to accept its meager self-imposed penalties of vacating the 2010 season, returning approximately $340,000 in money from last season’s Sugar Bowl, going on probation for two years and having five fewer scholarships over the next three seasons, all conveniently WITHOUT A POSTSEASON BAN.
Of course now that the Buckeyes can’t even compete for a Big Ten championship next season let alone a BCS title under new coach Urban Meyer, the clueless Smith is devastated by the much-deserved harsher penalties. A former member of the Committee on Infractions, he had maintained there was no way his program’s football team would receive any type of postseason ban.
So instead of withdrawing itself from bowl consideration this season with the hope that would lessen its NCAA penalties, like the University of Miami smartly did under a storm of NCAA problems, Ohio State played on during a turbulent 6-6 campaign under interim coach Luke Fickell to claim a spot against Florida in the meaningless Gator Bowl on Jan. 2.
Brilliant move, Dumb and Dumber, but it’s what we have come to expect from the dynamic duo of Smith and Gee. They have always been reactionary instead of proactive when it came to Tattoo-gate, a scandal in which players sold and traded sports memorabilia for more than $14,000 in cash and tattoos.
And worst of all, Gee and Smith were arrogant throughout the embarrassing debacle. Don’t forget they still allowed former quarterback Terrelle Pryor and five other Buckeyes to play in last season’s insignificant Sugar Bowl after they were implicated in the scandal, even though the players were suspended for games this season.
Gee and Smith also refused to fire former coach Jim Tressel and instead let him resign more than two months after he admitted to lying about his knowledge of players’ involvement in Tattoo-gate. (Cue Gee’s infamous, “I’m just hoping the coach doesn’t dismiss me.”) Just like they let scandal poster boy Pryor leave the team instead of kicking him off it.
So spare me all of Smith’s propaganda about Ohio State not appealing the NCAA’s ruling in light of this “challenging time.” If that’s a reference at all to the Penn State child sex-abuse scandal, it’s a disgusting insult to the victims.
Smith’s talk of “institutions of higher education must move to higher ground” is hot air just like Ohio State’s “long-standing commitment to excellence . . . in integrity in all it does.” Hopefully, it’s true now, but it wasn’t as recently as five months ago.
If it were, Ohio State wouldn’t have tried to low-ball the NCAA then with its self-imposed sanctions. NCAA president Mark Emmert though for the first time during his underwhelming tenure didn’t cower to power, profit and prestige, even though slightly harsher penalties for the Buckeyes wouldn’t have been out of line.
For all of Dumb and Dumber’s follies, they did finally get something right by hiring Meyer last month. Based on Smith’s word, he told recruits not to expect more penalties than what Ohio State had self-imposed.
But even with NCAA uncertainty hanging over the Buckeyes, Meyer stole a couple of highly touted recruits from Big Ten foes and recently landed Noah Spence, the nation’s top defensive end according to Scout.com.
Now, Meyer is forced to sacrifice next season to put Dumb and Dumber’s mistakes behind him. But beyond that, the man who won two BCS titles at Florida will be just fine managing the loss of scholarships and the negative stigma of probation.
And unlike his bosses, Meyer does get it as evidenced by his statement Tuesday after Ohio State’s penalties were announced.
“The NCAA penalties will serve as a reminder that the college experience does not include the behavior that led to these penalties,” Meyer said. “I expect all of us to work hard to teach and develop young student-athletes to grow responsibly and to become productive citizens in their communities upon graduation.”
In Meyer’s second seasons of new jobs, he has done well. He won the Fiesta Bowl at Utah and his first national championship at Florida also came in his second season.
That’s something for Ohio State fans to remember during the next year of sacrifice. Maybe by then, Dumb and Dumber will have finally gotten it — and lost their jobs.