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Hobbs Column: Gee should plea to lesser charge of Tongue in Cheek

Last Modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 2:57 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

Oh, no. Goodness gracious. I’m afraid there’s been another unfortunate outbreak of bow-tie banter in the academic world, bleeding profusely over into the football world.

Not to worry, though. The p.c. police are in lockstep on the case.

But let this be a lesson for us all.

You hire a man who wears a bow tie to work, you should be prepared to deal with the inevitable consequences.

And, right now, The Ohio State University is scrambling. School President Gordon Gee is the crosshairs again, charged with blatant, aggravated first-degree levity.

Gee can be refreshing in that quirky, academic sort of way, the kind of throwback, eccentric school president who might ride a bicycle across campus or lead the football team onto the field without a clue as to what they were about to attempt.

But let’s review what got us in this most recent pickle.

First, Gee took aim at the Southeastern Conference, a major nemesis for The Ohio State University on the field of play, if not the chemistry lab.

“You tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we’re doing,” spoketh Gee.

SEC offenses have never had much trouble deciphering Ohio State defenses, but I don’t think that’s what he was talking about.

Then it was Notre Dame and, by association, Catholics everywhere in regards to the Fighting Irish not joining the Big Ten.

“Those damn Catholics can’t be trusted,” he said. “The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell the rest of the week. You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday …”

Somehow Louisville also got a left jab when Gee mentioned that any Big Ten expansion would be on the lookout for schools of “like-minded academic integrity.”

“So you won’t see us adding Louisville.”

Probably the first school he thought of.

The reaction, of course, was swift.

The p.c. police are everywhere these days, but their staunchest battalions seem to hover over academia.

The story could not be reported without brow furrowing serious terms such as “may have offended” or “may find offensive” being tossed around.

Would everybody just please chill for a bit?

Give the guy a break.

Keep in mind, Gee was not addressing both houses of Congress on this thing. Nor, for that matter, was he Sergio-ing on about Tiger Woods at a formal dinner.

He was making offhand remarks before a meeting with his Athletic Council.

He was not proclaiming official Ohio State policy at the time, just some chitchat in the midst of whatever serious business the council was up to that day in December.

Certainly, his witticisms weren’t meant for public consumption.

It was a full six months later when The Associated Press got hold of a recording of the meeting and printed them with all due seriousness, along with a wagging finger.

Thus far, Gee has pleaded guilty to putting his foot in his mouth.

I think he should cop a plea to the lesser charge of Tongue in Cheek.

Does anybody really believe he doesn’t think the SEC can read and write or that Catholics can’t be trusted?

He was once president at Vanderbilt, not a good example of SEC mind power perhaps, but his remark was also a rebut to SEC fans’ chuckling about the math classes that call a 12-member conference the Big Ten.

Not to invoke the “lots of Catholic friends” defense, but Gee does have a Catholic head coach with the Buckeyes. Urban Meyer, in fact, was named after a Pope.

So he’s not allowed a little icebreaker talk before a meeting of friends (none of whom, if you listen to the recording, seemed terribly disturbed by his remarks at the time)?

Really, who in the world did he offend? Who did he hurt? Anybody offended just wants to be offended and they really need to get a life beyond that eternal quest to find more and more creative ways to become a victim.

I know the SEC isn’t easily offended and has a sense of humor, else you wouldn’t see hog hats or listen to cowbell caterwauling.

The SEC can handle it, probably by poleaxing The Ohio State in another BCS title game.

Holy on Sundays, holy hell the rest of the week? That tells me the fathers running Notre Dame are taking care of business, shrewd, tough negotiators.

Is that a sin?

There was a time, before the world became so piously serious, that a head coach like Knute Rockne himself could get away with explaining why Notre Dame at the time had no hockey team.

“The school,” he said, “will not endorse a sport that puts sticks in the hands of Irishmen.”

Apparently, the Irish-Americans were not offended, probably too busy working.

Get over it. College football may indeed have lots of serious problems these days.

Gordon Gee isn’t one of them.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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