Gee’s mouth: The gift that keeps on giving

A few years ago, Gordon Gee made an appearance at a luncheon in Akron.

Prior to espousing the wonders of Ohio State’s education, the always affable, friendly and accommodating Gee met with the media, and the inevitable question of a college playoff came up.

Gee insisted it would never happen.

He said the BCS system in place at that point was as far as he would go.

“It’s our Maginot Line,” he said.

Of course the Maginot Line was the line of defense built by the French after World War I, the line that was supposed to forever protect France from foreign invasion. Hitler and the Germans merely went around the line to over-run France.

Clearly any comparison to sports and war is misplaced. Just as clearly Gee used the wrong comparison in his staunch defense of never having a playoff. When the point was brought up to him privately that the Maginot Line didn’t really work, he smiled and said he best think of a better analogy.

This week Gee was back on his personal Maginot Line, as transcripts of a December meeting of him making fun of Notre Dame and Catholics and the SEC’s educational ability were revealed by The Associated Press.

On one level Gee’s attempted quips prompt a “can’t anyone take a joke anymore” response.

Gee said Catholics can only be trusted on Sunday, that they’re holy on Sunday and holy hell the rest of the week. Those folks who grew up watching people try to run each other over in a mad rush to get out of the parking lot after Sunday Mass might understand his point.

Too, Gee’s Athletic Director went to Notre Dame, and his football coach is a Catholic who was an assistant coach at Notre Dame. If Gee were really serious about this, he just dissed two key employees in a very major way. Which would kind of indicate he’s not serious.

Gee also said the SEC should learn to read and write, a real knee-slapper of a line if ever there was one.

The remark is really pretty demeaning, and high and mighty. But also about the oldest, tiredest putdown of the SEC going.

Gee’s comments do carry a bit of a holier-than-thou weight, which is odd given Gee’s not even Catholic but not odd given he works at a school that has the gumption to call itself “The.” Here Gee is at an Athletic Council meeting with professors and students, a meeting where the  minutes are public, dissing Notre Dame for joining the ACC in all sports but football and the SEC for its academic standards.

If ever a University President was basically calling for every investigative journalist to come take a peek at the academics of THE Ohio State University, it just happened.

Think we can’t read and write, Tennessee folks might say, well let’s see how it plays out in Columbus.

There is nothing to be feared as much as a booster scorned.

Then again, Gee once was president of Vanderbilt, which brings the “joke” into perspective. Gee of all people should understand the quality of the schools in the SEC. Which adds further impact to the argument to accept his apology and take things as they were intended — as a joke. A stupid joke, but a joke.

What hurts Gee is his past.

He’s made malaprop after malaprop, bad joke after bad joke. From saying he hoped football coach Jim Tressel didn’t fire him to making references to SEC schools playing the “Little Sisters of the Poor.”

It would be nice to think that a guy who makes a $1.9 million salary and is in a prestigious position would be smarter and think more before he speaks. It would also be nice to think he wouldn’t be so haughty about his infernal football program.

But football is sacred to Gee for the same reason Gee is sacred to the University: Both bring in money.

Neither will be going anywhere as long as that keeps happening.

Gee is far from alone in the hypocritical world of college athletics.

He’s just the guy who can’t get out of his own way when he talks about it.