"Gene Smith, Ohio State University senior vice president and Wolfe Foundation endowed athletics director, was named 2016 Sports Business Journal Athletics Director of the Year Wednesday at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City."
For the second time, Gene Smith has been named the Sports Business Journal Athletics Director of the Year. Not only was Smith a finalist for the award in 2008, but he previously won the award in 2010. Following the latest release of the 2016 Directors' Cup standings on April 20th, Ohio State was in second place, and since then has seen the men's volleyball team take home a national title, and are in contention in a number of spring sports.
During the fall and winter sports seasons this year, Ohio State had 10 teams place in the Top 10 nationally. The biggest accomplishment for the athletic department this year has come in the classroom. A record 561 scholar-athletes were recently honored for earning a 3.0 Grade-Point-Average or better. Smith was honored by the Sports Business Journal for his excellence and outstanding achievement in the business of sports from January 1, 2015 to February 29, 2016. The other finalists for the Sports Business Journal Athletics Director of the Year were Oklahoma's Joe Castigilone, Stanford's Bernard Muir, and Navy's Chet Gladchuk.
"We're interested in having great partners that have great platforms, that are interested in marketing and promotion. The market will decide what happens. ESPN has been a great partner, as CBS has, as FOX has. It's a new day. We've approached it that way. We're into the marketplace and we'll see what we shall see. I wouldn't talk about walking away from anybody in the middle of any negotiation."
It may sound crazy that the Big Ten is thinking of leaving ESPN when their broadcasting contract with the network runs out, but there has been talk of FOX acquiring the Big Ten broadcasting rights on a six-year deal starting in the fall of 2017. Given that FOX has partnered with the Big Ten to produce the Big Ten Network since it's inception, the move starts to make a little more sense. Many thought the Big Ten Network wouldn't work when it first was announced, but Delany took the risk with it. Now he might be on the verge of taking another risk by moving away from ESPN, but it wouldn't be a surprise if this move worked out just as well.
When other athletic directors around the conference were asked about the possibility of the Big Ten moving to FOX and away from ESPN, they seemed to be in full support of the move. A big reason Delany has the support of the schools in this matter is because it could net each Big Ten school around $30 million annually. Members can see that Delany is thinking outside the box and is trying to keep the conference out in front. Even though the conference hasn't finalized a deal for broadcasting rights for the near future, Delany probably already has a plan for when that contract runs out. As long as he keeps helping the schools in the conference rake in the cash, they'll have no problem letting Delany see those plans through.
"Coach Matta is in the process. We'll get to that when we all get together. He's going through the process right now. Hiring Chris is something we're excited to have. Whatever Coach asks me to do, I'm gonna do and I'm gonna do it to the best of my ability."
In two of the last three years Ohio State's offense has struggled mightily, with the exception during that span coming during D'Angelo Russell's only season in Columbus. There is reason for optimism heading into this year though, as assistant coach Chris Jent is returning to Thad Matta's staff. Prior to leaving Ohio State in 2013 to take a position on the Sacramento Kings' staff, Jent was the assistant coach in charge of running the Buckeye offense. After finishing 128th in 2013-14 and 151st last year in offensive efficiency according to KenPom, Ohio State will be looking to restore their offense, which had only finished worse than 50th in offensive efficiency two other times under Matta.
Thad Matta still has a question to answer heading into this season when it comes to which assistant coach is going to run the offense. Even though Jent seems like the obvious choice to try and overhaul the offense, assistant coach Greg Paulus has been in charge of the offense the last three seasons. The good news for Buckeye fans is Paulus has said that no matter what Matta asks him to do, he's going to put his all into it to help this Ohio State team succeed. It should help that the Buckeyes have a number of starters returning this year, after spending the last few years dealing with some significant player losses.
"This is something that's real. Everywhere I go, everybody seems to be mesmerized by this coming election. I'm mesmerized by it as well. ... We're asked to walk in those high school gyms and punch a ticket, and I know that for years my dad told me to 'vote this way.' That's not what were supposed to do. So we're going to take this thing to the nth level, which we normally do around here."
Since taking over as Ohio State's head coach in 2012, one thing Urban Meyer has brought with him has been "real life Wednesdays", where guests are brought in to speak on Wednesdays about real-life issues. With Memorial Day weekend coming up, Meyer is planning to highlight the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and wants his players to realize their responsibility to be active, informed voters if they plan on participating in the presidential election in November. This won't be about trying to tell players who they should vote for, but more about educating players on the differences between the candidates to help them form their own opinion.
Meyer is labeling this coming week as "patriot week" with Memorial Day on the horizon. To start off the week, on Monday Bradley Holland, an assistant professor of political science at OSU, will detail the responsibilities of a president. Tuesday will see Navy SEAL Scott Daly speak on wars that have been fought, and the sacrifices that have been made.On Wednesday, Stacy Rastauskas, vice president for government relations at OSU, and U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley will talk about the election process. To close out the team's week on Thursday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and former state legislator Otto Beatty will speak on the importance of making one's vote count, and the struggle for voters' rights. While those on the team might not agree with the candidates and where they stand, at least after this coming week they'll be a lot more informed about what their options are.