Unless you are living under a rock, you probably heard that Gordon Gee told a few jokes that weren't so funny a few months ago. The folks at SI have the full audio of Gee's remarks, and there are actually some very candid and interesting remarks that we all missed while the Internet hit the outrage quota for the
month week day hour fifteen minutes.
Some of the highlights:
On the BTN and the appeal of Rutgers and Maryland:
• 4:56: "[The addition of Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten] gives us 40 to 50 million more viewers, makes the BTN worth more money than God. I did say that. It’s a very powerful instrument for us."
Probably not a great look when you're also claiming to plead poverty when it comes to paying athletes, but if making dough is the name of the game, it's hard to argue with those additions.
On the Big Ten's next moves:
• 9:14: "I think the Big Ten needs to be predatory and positive rather than waiting for other people to take away from them. Very candidly, I think we made a mistake. Because thought about adding Missouri and Kansas at the time. There was not a great deal of enthusiasm about that. I think we should have done that at the time. So we would have had Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and then moved into that other area. I think, by the way, that that can still happen."
So this is an interesting take, and one that in retrospect, one that I imagine many Big Ten fans would agree with. Missouri all but begged to get into the Big Ten before taking their talents to the Southland, and while Kansas was bandied about as a possible target during the Nebraska era, their horrible football team and lack of access to major TV markets failed to move their needle much. But now, what FAN wouldn't trade those two for Maryland and Rutgers?
Prying Kansas and Missouri from their current setups wouldn't be easy now, but hey, stranger things have happened.
Also on that note:
9:42: "I also think this. This is a high possibility. If the ACC continues to struggle, and Florida State goes off to the SEC or something like that, and Clemson moves in a different direction, all of a sudden Virginia and Duke, which are very similar institutions to — and North Carolina — which are very similar institutions to the Big Ten, there is a real possibility that we may end up having that kind of T which goes south. And I could see them joining us. And I could see them having a real interest in joining us."
Gee has been adamant about the Big Ten likely moving towards 16 or 20, and at least in his mind, the UNC and UVA dreams aren't dead. Certainly the league is still kicking the tires on schools outside their footprint.
What about adding Cincinnati or Pitt to the Big Ten?"
• 11:03: "You know Penn State just abhors Pitt. It would be the same way. Even though we love Cincinnati as a city, we want it to be an Ohio State city. They’d have to take Gene out and shoot him to let Cincinnati into the Big Ten. There are some things that we just would not to. And that’s the way that Penn State also feels about Pitt."
You know what? Gee ain't wrong. As much as we like our friends who live in Cincinnati and those who went there and cheer on the Buckeyes, there is no way in hell either of those schools are ever getting into the Big Ten.
• 14:30: "Someone was saying to me, well, you know, Bret Bielema leaving … that was a blessing for Wisconsin and they knew it. Because he was under tremendous pressure. They didn’t like him. Barry Alvarez thought he was a thug. And he left just ahead of the sheriff."
I'm not so sure Gee is wrong about this either, although maybe "thug" was a bit too strong. I don't think it's incorrect to say that Bielema may not have been the most popular man in Madison, even though the Badgers were winning. Some Wisconsin fans in the media even seem inclined to agree.
Well, what about Louisville or Kentucky?:
• 19:52: "I think the presidents of the institutions are very clear that their number one criteria is to make sure that we have institutions of like-minded academic integrity. So you won’t see us adding Louisville … or the University of Kentucky."
Okay, so maybe inferring that these schools don't have "academic integrity" isn't fair, but again, Gee isn't wrong. Neither of these institutions match the academic and research profile of a Big Ten university. Same thing with West Virginia. The Big Ten wants TV markets and better athletic programs, but they aren't willing to sell out completely on the academic front.
These remarks triggered predictably strong reactions from the media community:
Bob Ley put the Gee controversy in the same breath as Donald Sterling, as if they were peers, because making some stupid jokes is totally as bad as racially discriminating as a landlord.
David Zirin, sports editor for The Nation, went even further on the actual episode of Outside the LInes, calling Gee "the darkheart of college sports", which...you know...YOLO.
Ohio State diplomat Chris Spielman however did appear and say that Gee had been strongly rebuked. He made it sound as though if Gee behaves similarly again, it could cost him his position with the university.
You can listen to the audio in its entirety here: