Sure, Gordon Gee Could Be Funnier, But What Would It Matter In a Humorless Society
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee has done it again. He has said something that he shouldn't have and he has also quickly followed that something up with the standard apology.
It must be that time of year again!
Photo by Jim Davidson
On Thursday, the Associated Press released a story of some derogatory comments made by Gee at an Ohio State Athletics Council meeting last December.
And by "derogatory comments", I mean "jokes".
Gee took aim at Notre Dame and Catholics at the meeting, quipping, "The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week. You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday."
Ah yes, Ohio State's anti-Catholic school president, speaking to a crowd of people, some of whom were undoubtedly Catholic.
How did those in attendance respond? They laughed. Why? Because they know the man. Everybody at Ohio State knows Dr. Gee, he's a bit of a goofball.
Does that give him leeway with some of the things he says? Absolutely, but since we're talking about harmless words here, why shouldn't there be leeway?
If you really think Gee has a problem trusting Catholics, do you ever think he would have approved a $4 million annual salary to a Catholic football coach who is also named after a pope?
Maybe he would go with a Catholic coach or a coach named after a pope, but not both. Not if his words were true.
Gordon Gee may be in the background wheeling and dealing with donors, but Urban Meyer is doing a lot of the ice breaking. Would he ever give that much power to somebody he just couldn't trust?
These were private comments at a public university, which only makes them private as long as nobody cares about them. The setting lends itself to being a little bit rambunctious.
When Urban Meyer spoke at a pep rally before The Game last year and said, "Let's beat the s--- out of Michigan", do you think he was being literal?
Did he want his players to so violently pummel that team up north that they soiled themselves until there was no more soiling to be done? Okay, maybe that's a bad example.
When former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John McKay was asked how he felt about the execution of his team, and he said he was in favor of it, do you really think he wanted his entire team dragged out in front of a firing squad?
When coaches travel to various alumni gatherings and talk trash about their rivals, it's all done in good humor. When Brady Hoke talked about Notre Dame chickening out of their series, he was playing to the crowd. Everybody had a good time.
Now things like that will be going away because everything is recorded today. It also doesn't help that nothing makes some people happier than being angry.
I don't know, maybe America's sense of humor died with Seinfeld.
There were also a couple of other egregiously hurtful word-stabs from Gee at the meeting, both aimed at southern academics.
Regarding expansion, he said that the Big Ten has to "make certain that we have institutions of like-minded academic integrity. So you won’t see us adding Louisville." He then added that they wouldn't be adding Kentucky, either.
This comment drew laughter, whether Gee wanted it to or not. This has apparently upset some folks, even though anybody who has ever discussed or written about the topic of Big Ten expansion has said very similar things about these two schools, and a dozen more like it. It's usually the first reason why a school is a no. But when the university president says it, it's apparently taboo.
The other barb was in response to somebody asking how to respond to SEC fans who tell him that the Big Ten doesn't know how to count, given that they have more than 10 teams.
"You tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we’re doing," he said.
Do you understand why this is such a silly thing to get upset about? Gee was being asked how to respond to a stupid question, so he gave a stupid answer.
Does Dr. Gee really think the SEC can't read and write? Do you really think that he really thinks that? Or was he simply giving somebody a smart-ass answer to a smart-ass question, which is exactly what the questioner was looking for.
Dr. Gee doesn't hate the South, and he doesn't hate Catholics. He might hate tape recorders, though.
I see so many people having problems with Dr. Gee making jokes, yet they have no problem making jokes about him. I get it, when Gordon Gee says something, it gets everybody roaring. I'm fine with that. Roar away. But let's at least slow down and look at the context and content.
Does Gordon Gee say some dumb things sometimes? Yes, but then he apologizes and people move on because tomorrow brings another story, and this one isn't really fleshy enough to stick with for very long.
So now Gee is dealing with a "remediation plan" handed down by the University. The Big Ten has also felt it necessary to apologize and distance itself from the comments, which is exactly what they should do so that they can now move on to more important stuff.
By tomorrow, everybody else will move on as well.
At least until the next time.
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