Wednesday, December 21, 2011

SMITH COULD HAVE PREVENTED THE DISAPPOINTMENT AND CHOSE NOT TO

Gene Smith
COLUMBUS — "We are surprised and disappointed with the NCAA's decision."

Those words were uttered Tuesday by Ohio State director of athletics, Gene Smith, following the NCAA's ruling of a one-year bowl ban for the football team, among other penalties.

The sad thing about it is, Mr. Smith himself could've avoided all of this disappointment. He had the power to soften the blow, to nip things in the bud, to take a real stand as a leader of the program. Instead, his arrogance prevented him from doing what was right. He thought the team and the school was bigger than the game. He found out Tuesday, that certainly isn't the case.

Don't worry, I'll explain.

First, when all the news of player violations surfaced last December, Smith could've stepped to the plate and prevented the five players who violated NCAA rules — Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey, Dan Herron, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas — from playing in the Sugar Bowl. He didn't.

The precedent was set with that inaction.

Smith could have also prevented head coach Jim Tressel from coaching in the Sugar Bowl for withholding information of the player violations. He didn't.

Smith — in his smooth, debonair way — just came out at every turn like, "Hey, it's going to be alright. Nothing's gonna happen. We're Ohio State ... it's all good, baby! Go Bucks!"

Now he's acting like a victim.

Just last month, Smith had the opportunity to make a huge statement to the NCAA by self-imposing a one-year bowl ban, effective this season. He could've prevented the Buckeyes from playing in the Gator Bowl, perhaps the most meaningless bowl game in the university's history. It's a game that pits a 6-6 Ohio State team (losers of their last three games) against a 6-6 Florida squad who's lost six of eight. It's a joke.

However, Smith wagered the university's future for a couple million dollars. Well ... he lost.

It's mind-boggling that Smith is still employed by the university.

Sure, there's no evidence that he knew Tressel withheld information of player violations, but he was tight enough with the former Buckeyes' boss that it seems a little fishy that he was left in the dark. And when he changed Tressel's resignation to a retirement this past summer, it almost appeared as if he was paying the coach for taking the fall for the program. Of course, that's all speculation.

What is a fact, though, is that the university has been found guilty of failing to monitor its program. And who's the head monitor? One Gene Smith.

Now Smith is trying to hide behind his blockbuster hiring of Urban Meyer as new head coach, perhaps the hottest name in all of college football. As if that was an accomplishment of his own. Meyer was coming to Ohio State whether he or my six-year old niece were the A.D. It was Meyer's dream job. It didn't take a lot of masterful persuasion on Smith's part.

"I agreed to become the head football coach at The Ohio State University because (wife) Shelley and I are Ohio natives," Meyer said Tuesday. "I am a graduate of this wonderful institution and served in this program under a great coach (Earle Bruce)."

Smith has already put his new hire in a hole, though. Meyer must now try to recruit the 2012 class with a bowl ban staring the kids straight in the face.

That could've been prevented by Smith. He could've put his arrogance and pride aside and took one for the team.

Instead, innocent kids and coaches will now have to pay for the actions of others.

Others which include Smith ... first and foremost.