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Dr. Saturday

Ohio State president gives Gene Smith the kiss of death

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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Gene Smith


Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee hadn't spoken to the media since former coach Jim Tressel resigned on Monday.

So, after nearly a week of frenzied media coverage that's covered everything from Tressel's pattern of deception to Terrelle Pryor's separate investigation, Gee did what any good president would do -- he gave his athletic director the kiss of death.

"Gene Smith's job is safe," Gee told media.

While yes, this is a vote of confidence from Gee to Smith, but those rarely turn out as a good thing. When Michael Corleone kissed his brother Fredo in The Godfather Part II, we all knew what followed. Gee's support to the media is equivalent to Corleone's kiss of death.

How do I know this? Because Gee and Smith did the same thing to Tressel. Earlier this month, Smith told ESPN.com that he still supported Tressel. Back in March, Gee made the infamous joke about Tressel, "I just hope he doesn't dismiss me," as a way of supporting the embattled coach.

In that same press conference, Smith said: "Wherever we end up, Jim Tressel is our football coach. He is our coach, and we trust him implicitly."

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On Wednesday, Gee acknowledged that the university urged Tressel to step down.

"I think that very clearly, (Tressel) in the end understood the kind of scrutiny he was under," Gee said. "In my experience with Jim -- which has been over three years -- he has always held the university at a standard that he wanted to support."

Sports Illustrated's story that chronicled nearly 30 years of Tressel's behavior and that 28 players exchanged memorabilia for tattoos and other goodies. The school only released six names to the public. This showed that Ohio State's indiscretions went deeper than just Tressel and that others should ultimately be held accountable.

Ohio State, including Tressel, is scheduled to meet with the NCAA in August, though many believe that meeting could be pushed back to allow the NCAA to sift through the information that continues to come out daily. Ohio State will face severe penalties and depending on the level of those penalties, cleaning house might ultimately be in the school's best interest.

"If we find there are people who are not holding the standard of the university, then obviously we'll deal (with them)," Gee said.

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