OSU Throws One In the Gutter, Won't Go Bowling Next Season
By Tony Gerdeman
When Tuesday's NCAA decision stating that Ohio State was banned from postseason play in 2012 hit athletic director Gene Smith's desk, I imagine he sat with his mouth agape at what had just happened.
After months of reassuring folks—including Urban Meyer—that a postseason ban was unlikely because of a lack of precedence, the realization that he had steered so many wrong had to be a jarring reality.
Had he and his staff actually gone back as far as the NCAA did, he apparently would have found the precedent that he was looking for.
During Urban Meyer's introductory press conference, Smith cited cases as far back as 2007 searching for precedence of a postseason ban. However, in their report, the NCAA cited a case involving an Alabama booster in 2002 which ultimately involved a bowl ban.
In an interview with Columbus' NBC4, Smith talked about these two cases and how, apparently, out of date they were.
“When you look at the case precedence that they tied back to, 2002 and 2003, Arkansas and Alabama, it's 2011, so I'm not so certain that I would go back that far considering our industry today, compared to where it was then. So while we accept their decision, that one is a stretch for me.”
To call this thought process a miscalculation on Smith's part is an insult to "2 + 2 = Purple".
It's almost as bad as calling a two-game suspension for Jim Tressel right in the "sweet spot" for what the NCAA would find acceptable. Yeah, they only tacked on an additional four years and eleven games.
It makes you wonder what would have happened had Smith and his independent consulting firm gone back and found the Alabama case in 2002, or the Arkansas case in 2003. Would anything have changed? Would they have maybe sacrificed a bit more, like say a postseason ban on a lost year like 2011, for instance?
“I don't know if it [self-imposed postseason ban] would have affected the ruling," Smith told NCB4.
"However, I didn't think it was the right thing to do when you look at these young men who earned the right to participate in this bowl game.
"The Gator Bowl is a very good bowl game. It's a quality experience for our young people and this senior class deserves that opportunity to have that chance to play. So I never really considered it from that perspective. No, in hindsight, 20/20, never thought about it.”
He never even considered the thought of self-imposing a postseason ban. How do you not even consider it? How do you not even think about it? It's one thing to decide against it, it's another thing to never even bring it to a decision-making process.
Instead, Smith's focus was on the senior class, and why shouldn't it have been. Given all of the things that they had been involved in of late, it had pretty much become his life's focus for the past year.
To say that the senior class deserves the opportunity to play in a near-meaningless bowl game is a slap in the face to every other player on this team.
Because those players "earned the right" to play in the 2012 Gator Bowl, nobody can now "earn the right" to play for a Big Ten Championship next season.
That sounds fair.
This whole deserving of a bowl game is a ridiculous tangent because if there was ever any thought that the NCAA was going to hand down a postseason ban in 2012, self-imposing a postseason ban in 2011 should have been the first thing Gene Smith did.
The lack of foresight was staggeringly Magooian.
Even in Smith's interview with NBC4, he dismisses the idea that the NCAA would go all the way back to 2002. How dare they. That's last decade! Who would even think to go that far back?
To say that in hindsight he still wouldn't have imposed a bowl ban to try to save the 2012 season is unbelievable.
On what planet is a Gator Bowl with lame duck coaches against a 6-6 opponent more important than a Big Ten Championship or a National Championship next season?
Gene Smith said he didn't know if imposing a bowl ban would have helped. The NCAA said on Tuesday that they don't deal in hypotheticals, so they refused to answer what effect a bowl ban would have had on their decision.
I can answer that question for you very easily—it sure as hell wouldn't have hurt!
Would a self-imposed bowl ban this year have eliminated the chance for one next year? Certainly not entirely, but if a one-year bowl ban was considered unlikely, how unlikely would that have made a two-year bowl ban?
If self-imposing sanctions doesn't help, then why do schools do it? Why self-impose anything?
Clearly it has an impact, or it wouldn't be done. Look at USC football, for instance. They didn't self-impose anything and you can still see the hammer hanging out of their forehead.
Gene Smith owed it to the entire team—not just the seniors—to make sure that the future was as unaffected as possible. Instead, another season will be mired in the mess of just a few people's doing.
To say that the Ohio State athletic department dropped the ball in this situation would imply that they had a grasp on it to begin with.
But it's time to move forward. That's what Urban Meyer is doing, and that's what his football program is doing.
Let's just hope the Ohio State underclassmen have learned their lesson—those who break the rules will always be punished, yet they will still somehow get to go bowling.
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