Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee began his ill-informed comments about the current state of college football with one accurate statement.
“I don’t know enough about the Xs and Os of college football,” Gee said at the start of an interview with the Associated Press.
He should have stopped there. His subsequent comments made it clear he doesn’t know much about the other parts of college football, either.
But Gee’s comments — particularly his disparaging remarks about Boise State and TCU — were an accurate reflection of what many in the elite conferences that run college football believe.
They believe in a system that denies access and revenue to teams from smaller conferences. They believe that no matter how many consecutive victories Boise State amasses (24 and counting), teams like the Broncos do not deserve to play with them. They believe in a system where they run the postseason and not the NCAA.
It’s just rare to see their bigotry in public.
“I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it’s like a murderer’s row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day,” said Gee, a graduate of Utah.
“So I think until a university runs through that gantlet that there’s some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to (be) in the big ballgame.” This gantlet myth must stop. It’s a hoax. An if-we-say-it-enough-it’s-got-to-be-true rationale that has taken hold. And it has. It must end.
Among the non-conference opponents played by Big Ten teams this year: Towson, Middle Tennessee, Western Michigan, Youngstown State, Eastern Illinois, Illinois State, South Dakota, Florida Atlantic, Western Illinois, Southern Illinois, Massachusetts, Austin Peay and Arkansas State.
And the SEC’s vaunted road went through Louisiana-Lafayette, Tennessee Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, Western Kentucky, Alcorn State, Jacksonville State, McNeese State, Charleston Southern, Chattanooga, Georgia State and Appalachian State.
No one is claiming Boise State’s schedule is tougher. But this notion that Ohio State plays the New England Patriots every week is just nonsense.
The Buckeyes’ strength of schedule: 59. TCU is No. 68. Boise State is No. 73. Not much difference.
Compare wins. Ohio State’s best was against four-loss Iowa, ranked No. 24 in the BCS this week. Boise State’s best was against Virginia Tech, ranked No. 16. The Broncos visit No. 19 Nevada this week, a game sure to help their strength of schedule.
If Gee doesn’t want teams like Boise State, TCU and their Little Sisters of the Poor rivals playing for the national championship, it is time to put his football team where his mouth is. Schedule (and beat) them. Or push for a playoff system.
The man in charge of the school with the largest athletic budget in the nation (more than $120 million) could wield considerable influence — and find a way to keep those pesky non-AQ upstarts out of the title game.
His league, the Big Ten, stands to gain from a playoff system as three teams (Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State) would likely make the 16-team field. But Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is staunchly anti-playoff.
And we’ve arrived at the real point of Gee’s rant: discrimination. The big schools don’t want to share with these upstarts.
Gee is not concerned with fairness or truth or access or equity. He cares about protecting the rather large investment in his football program and the Big Ten, and if that means defending an indefensible system against all logic, so be it.