Revenge stories are the best. There's something visceral in us that can't help but make us pump our fists in victory whenever Luke blows up the Death Star, or when Joe Don Baker rams his car through the casino, or when Lloyd fools Harry into drinking all that laxative.
It's even better when it happens in real life. Last May I was unironically happy when a guy got shot in the face in front of his wife, something that generally makes you a pretty horrible person in concept. But when said shootee helped mastermind the deaths of thousands of Americans, sometimes emotions like "decency" and "empathy" make way for other human feelings, things like "YEAH WHAT NOW. WHAT." and "AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!"
And when the NCAA levied it's ruling against Ohio State and issued scholarship reductions and a one year postseason ban, I was very excited, because i knew my boy Gene Smith was about to go on a rampage. After all, this is the guy who said back in July that if the NCAA decided to issue scholarship reductions or a postseason ban, he'd:
"...be shocked and disappointed and on the offensive," Smith said. "Unless something new arises from where we are today, it'll be behavior (from me) you haven't witnessed."
So since the DiGeronimo stuff was pretty much chicken feed in the grand scheme of things, I knew it was but a matter of time before Gene unleashed the beast and ran wild on some NCAA candy asses. I was practically salivating over his options; selling private NCAA info to Ukrainian scammers, kidnapping Pickles, the NCAA's prize pig and making bacon out of him that he would videotape himself eating and then send to every NCAA employee, waiting outside Mark Emmert's house and putting him in an epic choke hold until he admitted he wants to French kiss his mom... the possibilities were endless.
Gene Smith is in charge of one of the largest, most profitable athletic departments in the entire US, possibly the world. With the full might of 55,000 students, thousands of faculty, hundreds of thousands of alumni, and Ohio State's administration behind him, what was his surely devastating next move going to be?
Smith found out about the penalty at 7:48 a.m. via e-mail on the way to Gee’s house for a previously scheduled meeting.
“Thank God I parked,” Smith said. “I was livid.”
Gee said the meeting included Smith, the consultant Chuck Smrt and the university lawyer Chris Culley. After about a half-hour discussion, he said they made the decision to not appeal.
That's right. In a furious rage, Gene Smith parked his car, fumed for a few minutes, and maybe said some curse words. Then he (presumably) listened to James Taylor, calmed down, went to his bosses' house, and they decided to just kind of go with it.
The thing is, this post really isn't about what Smith or Gee should've or shouldn't have done. It's more about the fact that we were assured by these guys, for months, that the NCAA wouldn't and couldn't possibly consider giving Ohio State penalties beyond the scope of what OSU had already self imposed on itself. Basic logic dictated otherwise, but hey, as fans, we just wanted this crap to be over with. We bought into this happy lie because of the six months of misery that had preceeded it.
Even Eleven Warriors wasn't immune from getting a little sunshine blown up our rears. Three days after Gene Smith promised to hulk out if the Buckeyes weren't allowed to play in the Let's Remind People Shreveport Exists Bowl, we published this story detailing how we agreed with Gene, and that it was unlikely OSU would get a bowl ban.
The situation changed somewhat, of course. DiGeronimo got involved, some players were found to have gotten paid for jobs that they probably spend about as much time talking about Genji's at as they did doing actual work, and probably some various other incidents and goings-on that made OSU look like the wretched hive of scum and villainy that pretty much everyone outside of Ohio likes to paint it as.
That isn't why Ohio State got the bowl ban, though. Ohio State was punished because the NCAA absolutely hates being lied to, and as much as the Ohio State administration tried, they could not separate the wrongs of Jim Tressel from the wrongs of the institution. Gene Smith wants to talk about all of the "precedent" that led him to believe that there was no way the NCAA would go to the lengths that they did, but what he fails to understand is that trying to apply precedent or consistency or even fairness to the NCAA is a fool's errand.
Here's why OSU got hit: Jim Tressel and his players broke the rules, then lied about it, and during the subsequent investigation our athletic director played the part of Kevin Bacon in Animal House, assuring us that all was well. For those violations, and for our hubris, we got punished. And to make it worse, all those supposed naysayers who insisted we were about to get punished for our arrogance in the face of an unpredictable and frankly petty institution were 100% correct.
Gene Smith should be fired. Not just for being wrong, but for being the biggest symbol of our collective haughty pride and impotent rage against something that had always been within our power to stop.
In the end, only one guy really seemed to get it:
The current Buckeyes almost seem to be expecting more severe penalties.
"We're only promised 12 games," safety Orhian Johnson said this week.