Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Washington Post column -- An open letter to Dr. E. Gordon Gee, President, The Ohio State University

Here is this week's article for The Washington Post -------------------

Dear Elwood:

I've gone ahead and used your first name and dispensed with that E. Gordon stuff. Likewise with your title, which - unless you're practicing medicine when we're not looking - is about as pretentious as your bow tie.
However, all that is the least of your problems right now, Doc.

Last week, you put your foot so far in your mouth that it may never be seen again. You went public with what you and the other 65 Bowl Championship Series presidents really think about college football: You want all the money and all the power and you do not want anyone to intrude on you while you count your money and pat yourselves on the back for being such smart and powerful people. Anyone who questions you on any level just isn't as smart .

Here, translated into English, is what you said: Schools such as Boise State or TCU should be thrilled to play occasionally in one of our lucrative, but meaningless, BCS bowls; how dare they suggest they deserve a chance to compete for a championship. Forget the fact that they're undefeated; forget the fact that they're basically willing to play any BCS team that will play them and have beaten our teams pretty consistently in recent years when given a chance to play them.

So what if Utah, a team from TCU's league, beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two years ago? Meaningless. Exhibition game. Alabama really didn't care even though it had almost a month to prepare.

Who cares that Boise State beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl a few years back? A fluke. The Broncos' wins over Oregon two years in a row? Those were, um, early in the season. And their win over Virginia Tech, by far the best team in the ACC this year, in a virtual road game? That deserves an asterisk because no one is sure what the ACC is. (This last point may have some merit.)

Your best remark, the one you will be remembered for long after you hang up your bow ties, was that unlike TCU and Boise, teams in the "power conferences" aren't beating up on "the Little Sisters of the Poor." Seriously, that's comedy worthy of my favorite Elwood, Jake's brother. He was on a mission from God. You are on a mission from God knows who.

Click here for the rest of the column: An open letter to Dr. E. Gordon Gee, President, The Ohio State University


Paul said...


As an Ohio State fan I should be embarrassed by Gee's comments. But this is far from his worst. In 1992 he called a 13-13 tie with our arch rival Michigan the greatest victory in Ohio State history. So while his comments about Boise and TCU are a disgrace, it should come as no surprise.

Momus said...

If I were Dr. Gee, I might be a little less worried about the need for the Buckeyes to move up in the BCS rankings, and a little more concerned about improving the academic reputation of my school. According to the latest U.S. News college rankings, Ohio State is tied with Purdue for 6th place amongst the eleven Big 10 schools, trailing Northwestern, Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State and Illinois. Nationally, 23 BCS schools (to include Notre Dame) are ranked higher acamedically than Ohio State.

HenryFTP said...

I don't think any of the BCS schools will be impressed by arguments about fair competition or even logic. The only thing that will bring about a play-off is an offer, probably from Disney/ABC/ESPN, that increases their pay-out sufficiently to persuade them to surrender some of the cartel control they now enjoy. Our agitating, however, may just persuade the advertisers and the TV people that such an offer is truly commercially viable.

NDDC said...

John - We get it. You hate Notre Dame. Enough already. If ND is such a loathsome place why don't you implore your buddies at the Naval Academy to end our series? Of course they wouldn't because they, and Notre Dame, love this game. A game between two great schools that do it right. I assume you know the history and how ND will play Navy as long as they want, but don't worry about that. Just hold your nose, and by all means resist the urge to write about it.

By the way, every fellow alum and fan I have spoken to acknowledges Navy simply throttled us this year. There is no argument there, but the fact that is the first time since 1963 they have beaten us this soundly (not just beaten obviously but truly dismantled) does kind of, by definition, make this year an anomaly. Again, though feel free to take one quote from a reeling Brain Kelly and attribute it to an entire fan base.

The fact that you are relying on the work of a bottom feeding muckraker like David Haugh for scandal shows just how desperate you are to find controversy where none exists. It's all about the eyeballs right Johnny? Miss Seeberg's death is clearly a tragedy but how about a little discretion and patience to let the investigation happen? To insinuate ND is not cooperating with local law enforcement clearly shows you have no idea what you are talking about. The history is extensive if you bothered to look. In fact ND probably has dismissed athletes too quickly in the past before investigations were complete - probably because of people in the media like you. It makes good copy right?

Declan Sullivan's death is also a tragedy and one that was preventable. Hopefully, the investigation will help this kind of accident be avoided by other schools in the future. I am not sure what you expect Swarbrick or Kelly to say in public. It is sad but given how litigious our society is people are forced by counsel to say nothing. However, I am completely confident that what Father Jenkins has told the Sullivan family is a far cry from what was said in public, and is frankly none of your business, or mine.

I find it ironic that you pontificate about the "big money corruption" of college athletics and there is a lot of material there no doubt, yet your writing about this subject has in large part made you a fairly wealthy man. I know your golf writing would pay the bills on its own, but without A Season on the Brink I wonder if you would have gotten those book contracts. If college sports went the way of Division II, as you clearly wish it would, do you think there would be as much demand for your writing? Hey, I know, golf is a growth sport right?

Please follow Wilbon's lead and take your sanctimonious and hypocritical act elsewhere.

Clay Parcells said...

John, you hit the mark again. I am a TCU graduate. The arrogance of the BCS and the Ohio State President is not surprising. No one is going to rain on their parade. What a bunch of cupcakes....all of them. All the BCS schools are sacred stiff of playing Boise, Utah, TCU because they know they will get beat. I was hoping either Boise or TCU would get a shot at the National Championship. Unfortuantely, even if bothh Oregon and Auburn lose this weekend, TCU will not be invited. Bunch of whores!

Anonymous said...

I loved how Gee called a playoff too close to professional sports....does he not pay attention to his own athletic budget? Aren't they over $100m and top 5 in the country in size? That seems pretty professional to me.

Additionally, this slippery slope to professionalism doesn't seem to reach all the way to coaches, and athletic directors, who clearly make more than your average coach of amateur athletes.

Whatever faction of congress and political action committees can surely use his words as showing their is a restraint of trade. And the top 6 conferences should break off and form their own division in the NCAA.

Chuck B '92 said...

Gee, you'd think that if he'd be worried about the lapse into "professionalism" of his beloved Big Ten, the first thing he'd do is attempt to convince his commissioner to rip up his contract with Fox to run and produce the Big Ten Network.

I guess it's only a "slippery slope" to professionalism when it's not making Ohio State or the Big Ten money. Sadly, this has been the story of the Big Ten and the BCS since its inception, and possibly even earlier.

Anonymous said...

John Boy, it's time to hire a fact checker. the Geeman doesn't have a PhD. I guess that kind of puts a kabosh on your condescending closing.

And with respect to your point: "As an educator, you are supposed to be about promoting opportunities for all your students: teaching them things such as fairness and sharing and competing in the right way."

To wit, Gee is teaching them how to compete and protect themselves in a highly competitive capitalistic society.

Gunnar said...

Good letter to Dr Gee.

Those non-conference games for the Big-10 teams are really weak. Most of the BCS conferences only have 8 league games, and 4 cupcakes, which virtually guarantees a bowl bid, and some level of coaching and AD job security. This is not competition. I believe the PAC-10 is the only league still playing 9 conference games, which is difficult, as they beat each other up, and some years you have 4 home games and 5 away games.

Anonymous said...

If you want to piddle all over a Ph.D. gone amok, be my guest, but you went too far denigrating MSU
who beat Wisconsin which team is in a BCS game while State is on the outside looking in. The best
you could hope for is that OSU will play BSU and BSU will beat them - wouldn't that be luscious?
Better yet, why don't you say what was really on your mind??? Playoffs for Div I teams w/o casting aspersions on other schools. P.S. - stick with golf,

Kdog said...

John...down here in ACC/SEC country (our local HS sent Jonathan Crompton to Tennessee and redshirt QB Tyler Brosius to NC State), it is amazing that SEC fans continue to drink the kool-aid. Everyone KNOWS the SEC is so much better than the ACC - right?

Head to head this season, it was SEC 5, ACC 2. But look beneath the numbers:

-- LSU beat UNC's 2nd string on the opening weekend of the season by 6 points.
-- Auburn beat Clemson by 3 points.
-- UGA beat Ga Tech because of a missed extra point
-- Alabama blew out Duke
-- South Carolina whipped Clemson


-- Florida State demolished Florida
-- Wake crushed Vandy

South Carolina probably had the toughest non-conference slate in the SEC, with Southern Miss and Clemson thrown in with Troy and Furman.

Anonymous said...

If there's anything that offends me, it's the steady creep in professionalism in college sports at the expense of academics.

Thank you, Dr. Elwood.

Maurice Clarett

Craig said...


I would like to take this letter, tie it to a rock, and throw it through the Dr's window, just to make sure he gets it, and the fact that we are not all idiots. My hope is you have sent it to him some way. It is an insult how stupid these Presidents think the public is, with their holy-er than thou attitude. The ND nation and leaders are not much worse than Dr Gordo Geek so nice dig on the golden dome'ers who continue to under achieve, regardless of the coaching changes.

Anonymous said...

John,was listening to "your boys" Mike and Mike and they said that according to the "Saragin strength of schedule rankings" Ohio State has played more sisters of the poor than Boise St.as Boise has the 62nd toughest schedule while OSU has the 64th... GEE, go figure.

case said...

did you forget to remind elwood of the days he was president of Brown ?
was his song the same then ?

PeteWill said...

Very funny John. To bad he just won't get it.

andy said...

Thanks John for fighting the good fight. I wish there were more national writers and commentators that would call the BcS cronies out on their intellectual dishonesty. Gee rants on the schedules of Boise, TCU, Utah and other tough non-BcS schools as if they have any other option. They would all jump at the chance (see TCU to Big East, Utah to Pac12) to join the cartel because dimwits such as Gee continue to trump the benefits of an anticompetetive, illegal monopoly. Would Gee be willing to invite Boise to the Big 10? Is he willing to give Boise the opportunity to play a tougher schedule by scheduling a home and home series with Ohio State? If not, then quit complaining about their schedule.

While nowhere near as significant socially, his comments are no different than the rhetoric used by discriminatory and aristocratic regimes throughout history. His arrogance sounds strangely like the infamous line attributed to Marie-Antoinette when told that the peasants were upset that there was no bread to eat... "well, then let them eat cake."

Anonymous said...

Will the anonymous poster who chided John for not fact checking - because Dr. Elwood is not a PhD - kindly check the following facts:

1) Nowhere did John say he had a PhD. He referred to him as "Dr." Gee, and called it a "pretentious" title.

2) Gee does in fact, have JD (Doctor of Laws) and EdD (Doctor of Education) degrees. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Gee#Early_life.2C_education_and_early_career

3) His professional colleagues call him "Dr.", presumably due to his Education degree and presumably without his objection. http://www.clevelandleader.com/node/11964

4) Dr. Gee's OSU biography self-reverentially calls him "among the most respected university presidents in the nation." http://president.osu.edu/bio.php This may or may not be true, but it's hard to get more pretentious than that.

Anonymous said...

Whoops - my bad. John DID refer to him as PhD at the end. But you can mentally substitute "EdD" with minimal further change.

Anonymous said...

"3) His professional colleagues call him "Dr.", presumably due to his Education degree and presumably without his objection."

Why would he object? Did he not earn the title?

"4) Dr. Gee's OSU biography self-reverentially calls him "among the most respected university presidents in the nation." http://president.osu.edu/bio.php This may or may not be true, but it's hard to get more pretentious than that."

Time Magazine voted President Gee as the best college president in 2009. Not only is his bio true, it can hardly be thought of as pretentious when he has been given that honor.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Gee does apparently does get it. In apologizing for his comments he said to the Columbus Post-Dispatch "What I should do is go over to the surgical suites and get my foot extricated from my mouth." He also made a personal donation to the Little Sisters of the Poor and invited the Mother Superior to a football game. I don't think you can ask for more than that.

qtlaw24 said...

Elwood is the very same college president at OSU when Robert Smith was told to pick another major because his studies were affecting his football activities. Hypocrite.

Great job exposing Elwood. Now the key is whether anyone is listening.

Logan said...

Gee made a mistake with his comments, and hes stood up and admitted so. Hes also acted in good faith. I'd expect the same from those who were attacking him now.

Anonymous said...

Based on the current collective Big Ten teams bowl records (0-5), including Wisconsin's Rose Bowl loss to TCU, you should update your open letter to Gee with an offer to eat some crow, Texas grilled style! - The Juicer