Ohio State Football: Gene Smith Should Follow Jim Tressel

With each day, the investigation into Ohio State football gets worse and worse.

With each, new violations come to light.  More poor behavior.  More cover-ups.  SI.com has put together a comprehensive report detailing the extent to which the program had come undone during Jim Tressel’s tenure.

Frankly, it is infuriating.

Smith, like Tressel, should resign for the good of the program (AP)

Strip away any remaining illusions you may have, Buckeye fans.  We can no longer deny what happened here.  We can no longer claim that these are trivial matters or isolated incidents.  The argument that “”everyone else is doing it too” is increasingly irrelevant and inadequate.  It doesn’t matter who else was doing what during this stretch; the Buckeyes program that I’ve loved for more than three decades was running relentlessly amok.

I am still a fan.  I will still root for the team.  But I cannot dismiss the magnitude of what’s gone down.  And what has become clear to me is that Athletic Director Gene Smith must resign or be fired.

There is simply no way this mess began and ended with Tressel.  Without complicity or compliance from both his subordinates and superiors, things never would have gotten this bad.  Knowingly or unknowingly, Gene Smith was the man in charge, and, like Tressel, he needs to take responsibility for his failures.

It may be that Tressel’s worst offense was lying about what he knew when the allegations broke last year.  But Smith did exactly the same thing when he claimed that the violations committed by Terrelle Pryor and his teammates were “isolated incident(s)”.  Or perhaps he wasn’t lying outright.  Perhaps Smith truly believed that he was correct, but in that case, his lack of control over the program is astounding.  And regardless, he cannot continue in his position.

The NCAA is going to hammer Ohio State.  Make no mistake.  Although the original notice of violation omitted the “lack of institutional control” and failure to monitor” charges, it’s hard to see how the NCAA would be able to keep those accusations off the table in light of recent discoveries.  There has clearly been a pervasive pattern of illicit behavior.  Look at the damage done to USC for what amounted to far fewer, and arguably less severe, violations.  If that serves as any kind of precedent, the Buckeyes are about to get slammed.

Vacated wins, scholarship reductions, probation…they’re all coming.  That much seems inevitable now.  At the rate this investigation is goings, fans should be happy with anything less than the Death Penalty.   That may be an exaggeration, but not by much. 

How could Smith possibly retain his post?

As Buckeye fans, it’s time for us to stop pretending.  No more dissembling, no more excuses.  Those responsible for staining the reputation of the university must go.

All that said, I maintain that these problems are merely a symptom of a very broken and corrupt system.  The NCAA is failing itself and its constituent schools, and while men like Tressel and Smith will and should pay the price in a very direct way, the NCAA itself should also pay for its mistakes.

This moment, the moment at which the nation’s largest athletic department is being toppled by its own errors, is the time for reform to begin.  Equitable rules, fair enforcement and just punishments must be put in place, and the absurdities of the recent past, such as the Fiesta fiasco, must be eliminated.  If they are not, then Ohio State will hardly be the last school to suffer this fate.

  • Art Shapiro

    I assert that the original charges – selling their own merchandise – are stupid, and crimeinal only in the eyes of the fat cats who run most major athletic organizations. The issue of the cars, however, is certainly nontrivial.

    Isn’t the real problem that most of these athletes and their double-digit IQs shouldn’t be anywhere near a University environment?


  • Steve Balestrieri

    Nice piece Matt,
    Sad, bad times for Brutus…. Hate seeing this stuff, but it happens. Pryor was getting roasted by the press today.

  • http://www.martinnicholson.com Marty Nicholson

    Looking back, I know I should have done just that, but while working in my official capacity for UNC Asheville, it just would not have been the right thing…but, sure wish I had…

    • Matt Strobl

      Nah, it wouldn’t have done you any good at the time. Plus, he would have just “no comment”ed you death. Unless you used Jedi mind tricks on him.

  • http://www.martinnicholson.com Marty Nicholson

    Matt –
    Like I said in my article I just posted, I met with Gene Smith at the NCAA basketball tournament and REALLY wanted to question him on everything…but, unfortunately, it was NOT the right place nor time. I agree with you on this…he should resign also. Nice piece!

    • Matt Strobl

      Ha…To hell with the right place, right time! You should have grilled him!