Days of Rage

By Johnny Ginter on December 27, 2011 at 1:02p

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:

" 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.

Andy Geiger Counter

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.


Comments Show All Comments

AcrossTheField11's picture

Thank God for James Taylor...

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

Johnny Ginter's picture

literally the only reason i know james taylor even exists is because he was on the simpsons once

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I think Gene Smith should be fired as well - the man should have just STFU about it the entire time.  The correct statement would have benn in the neighborhood of:

"We used precendence to set our self assessed penalties but in the end, the NCAA will have the final word.  I do not know, nor do I have any insight or privledged information as to how they will rule.  We have prepared ourselves for a number of potential outcomes and will act accordingly when the offical ruling comes out".


Even if that wouldn't have impacted the finally ruling - he and the university would not have look so ridiculously stupid and covered in egg.



The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

AcrossTheField11's picture

Ha I knew of him because my mom likes him.  I didn't actually know any of his songs until watching Remember the Titans in high school. 

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

Maestro's picture

He should have followed up his livid ragefest with a nice thank you note to the NCAA according to the haters.  By their estimation the Buckeyes got off SOOOOOOOO easy.

vacuuming sucks

Doc's picture

Gene it is time for you to pack your stuff and hit the road.  You have bumbled your way threw this entire scandal and made not only yourself, but the entire University look inept.  Thanks for being a complete embarrassment.  Go back to Notre Lame where mediocrity is celebrated.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

gobucks1226's picture


Regarding Smith's quote from July, something new did come up: We were slapped with a Failure to Monitor charge in November. That is precisely the reason Smith is not on the offensive and is subsequently the biggest problem I have with him.

Throughout this whole process, Ohio State has been reactive instead of proactive. As soon as we were hit with the FTM charge, a bowl ban should have been levied. How in the world could Gene Smith not see we were within the NCAA's statute of limitations for "repeat violator" recognition? Smith was OSU's AD at the time.

From Tressel's initial 2-game suspension, we have botched every single PR interaction and have seemingly been caught off-guard with every new twist to the story. Gene Smith has many credentials detailing his involvement with the NCAA, yet was adamant that OSU would not receive a bowl ban and used precedence as his reasoning. This same reasoning was what the committee used in outlining 2002 penalties to Alabama and 2003 penalties to Arkansas.

Ultimately, Smith should fall on this sword as he was not enough of a visionary or a leader for what Ohio State needed to battle through this storm.

Johnny Ginter's picture

well, that's basically my point, that the FTM wasnt a result of digeronimo. we were going to get that regardless, and smith basically outright refusing to consider the possibility of that is what led us here.

smith basically said "we're good, don't worry, if something bad happens i'll be pissed and shocked" and when something bad did happen (like almost everyone on the outside looking in had been telling us), he was pissed and shocked but at that point could do nothing about it

ek68's picture

I understand your anger & disappointment with Mr. Smith.  I, for one believe Smith & all the so called experts (attorneys & such) who are experienced with so called investigations by NCAA, basically agreed that all self imposed sanctions would more than likely satisfy. I for one, really feel the national outrage led by ESPN, CBS, & others(including the Columbus D.) left the NCAA to impose the added Sanctions. The national out cry would be unbearable for the NCAA. I have no faith in the NCAA, & believe the majority of national opinion means more to them than we care to give credit. I admit, I only know of Gee & Smith from what I read here & National media. I do not like or dislike either, but have respect for their positions. Tressel, in my opinion from listening to his interviews & what I have read, believed he was in control of all football operations & he made those decisions. Right or Wrong he made the decisions. I will never call him any names but Coach Tressel. Sorry to get off subject of Smith & being a BUCKEYE fan for over 50 years, I just could not help myself. Love reading all of your article & comments. Keep up the great work.




ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I absolutely agree with the media being a huge part of it.  There were a lot of factors.  Sure, PR wise, Gene Smith sucked throughout the whole process.  On multiple occasions, there were more violations after we were assured that there would be no more violations.  We were told that things were not going to be worse, only to have things get worse.

However, perception is everything in college football.  Remember, we're talking about a sport that determines it's national champion through a national championship game where the participants are two teams that are believed to be the two best teams in the nation (not to mention the NCAA tournament and the college world series - two more elaborate playoff systems where participants are selected to be in these tournaments based on opinion of worthiness).  As much as the handling of the situation by our athletic department sucked, who really engineered all of the outrage amongst college football fans that are not Ohio State fans?  The national media.  The ESPNs, the CBSs, etc.  Their reporting, their incessant reporting, their excessive reporting of our scandals compared to other existing scandals.  We essentially became the poster boys of NCAA violations, even though several other schools have committed violations, been investigated, and some have even been sanctioned.  I bet the casual, ESPN-watching college football fans couldn't name 3 schools other than OSU that have had violations in recent years.  It'd be one thing if all of the other schools in trouble were MAC/Sun Belt/WAC schools, but that's not the case.  It's programs like USC, Oregon, Miami - programs that are among the elite in college football, or have been at least over the past couple of decades.

But back to my point.  With the reporting of violations and the rabid opinions, these people, or should I say sheep - because they just flock to wherever they're told - have a negative opinion of our program.  A nasty perception has been created against OSU.  And a nasty perception of the NCAA would really be created if they didn't send some message to us.  The NCAA doesn't want people to have a bad perception of college football and the NCAA as a whole.  If one program gets smeared, oh well, no one program is bigger than the NCAA I guess.  That's the problem.  Perception is everything. 

I'm not saying that the media is 100% to blame, but if you take away the media and the creation of outrage, what's really left for the NCAA?  Is there a real message to send?  Is it really that big of a deal that some kids got some benefits (when bowl games give them gifts, which if those same gifts were given to them by a booster, that's an NCAA violation)?  No actual crimes were committed.  Hell, this is America - I can sell my shit for tattoos, and I can get paid to show up at charity events and for jobs where I didn't perform as much work as what I was paid for.  If I have a job where my salary is $100,000, am I doing the equivalent of twice as much work as another person who has a job with a $50,000 salary?  Do people who make minimum wage have the easiest jobs in the world?  I mean, it might be corrupt, but I highly doubt it makes much of a difference in recruiting, and certainly doesn't translate to an on-field advantage.  I look at it as if I don't know, then I don't really think about it or care.  Actually, even if I do know, I still don't care, other than the fact that it creates trouble for the football program.

The message was sent because the media created a message and the need for it to be sent - the message being the stiffer-than-expected extra sanctions.

Class of 2010.