Particularly for an academic, Ohio State president Gordon Gee has never been shy about expressing his opinions on athletics, popular or not.
And it's a safe bet that the opinions he expressed today in an interview with the AP are going to be most decidedly unpopular in Boise and Fort Worth. Writing off entire conferences as the "Little Sisters of the Poor" isn't particularly becoming for the president of the nation's largest university, and criticizing TCU and Boise for their schedules is more than a little hypocritical when one advanced rating puts the Buckeyes' schedule strength barely above the Frogs' or Broncos' and both non-AQ teams have played a more challenging nonconference slate than the Buckeyes' lineup with Marshall , Eastern Michigan , and Ohio .
But as infuriating as Gee's viewpoint might be to those who'd agree the non-AQ teams are far more deserving this season than the 10-1 Buckeyes (whose best win until last week's triumph at 7-4 Iowa was a home win over either 7-4 Penn State or 7-4 Miami ), at the end of the day it's just another warmed-over rehashing of the same arguments that have surrounded Boise and TCU all season (and for much of the past two). Where Gee is really, truly wrong is in his comments on expanding the football postseason to ensure that we don't have to have these same tired debates:
Gee isn't just arguing that Boise and TCU don't deserve a title shot this year; he's arguing that college football should entrench a postseason system that would ensure that they never got that title shot. What his argument (and similar diatribes against "playoffs") misses is that college football already has a playoff; it selects a number of teams, pairs them off, and the winner is automatically declared the champion. Where the BCS playoff differs from every other playoff in existence is that it only includes two teams. To frame the debate in terms of some nebulous future "playoff" against a current BCS system that varies from that bogeyman only in terms of the number of teams involved is to rig the debate permanently in the BCS's favor.
Gee, long an admirer of the BCS and the current bowl system, said he was against a playoff in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
"If you put a gun to my head and said, 'What are you going to do about a playoff system [if] the BCS system as it now exists goes away?' I would vote immediately to go back to the bowl system," he said.
He said the current system is better for the student-athletes.
"It's not about this incessant drive to have a national championship because I think that's a slippery slope to professionalism," he said. "I'm a fan of the bowl system and I think that by and large it's worked very, very well."
Gee's desire to preserve what amateurism and respect for academics remain in college football is admirable. But there's a point at which even those concerns have to give way to basic fairness. And surely the permanent exclusion of the TCU's and Boise's of the sport from national title consideration represents that point; what Gee proposes is to draw a line between college football's haves and have-nots, one based on conference affiliation, and declare that the latter can never cross it. It's elitism and snobbery of the highest order.
Now, a show of hands: who's in favor of Wisconsin blowing their season finale against Northwestern and setting up a showdown between Gee's Buckeyes and either the Frogs or Broncos in the Rose Bowl ? Is that everyone (Badger fans excluded)? Yes, we think that's everyone.