BusinessDictionary.com (yep, that’s right, I even go online for definitions these days, sorry Grandma) defines “systemic” as “System-wide: affecting or relating to a group or system as a whole, instead of its individual members or parts.” So let me get this straight, a systemic problem is one that deals with a system as a whole, and not just a part or two. So you tell me, does OSU have a systemic problem? At what point exactly does the sum of all of the following parts become a whole?
Part 1: President E. Gordon Gee – I love Gordon Gee. I can’t think of too many ten year olds in the country that can not only name the star players and some coaches on their favorite college football team, but can easily identify the school’s president. However, my friends and I all knew Gee when we were little and celebrated his return to OSU years later as if we’d just landed a major recruit. Gee is an extremely charismatic and intelligent leader, but if he has one flaw, it is his inability to stay quiet. This was evident in the spring when he not only defended Jim Tressel and denied the possibility of his termination from the university, but commented that he would be lucky if Tressel didn’t fire him. Does that make him guilty in this scandal? No, but instead of a demanding voice of confidence and discipline, we received a jovial assurance that the issue was contained…Oops.
Part 2: Athletic Director Gene Smith – Again, Gene Smith is an extremely friendly man, a good leader, and someone dedicated to making sure that Ohio State’s student-athletes perform well on and off of the field. Yet he too has put his foot in his mouth on numerous occasions during this scandal, and continues to do so on a regular basis. With each time he assures Buckeye Nation and the rest of the country that this problem is under control and not systemic, I hear less and less of his speech. I’m to the point where I’m numb to his calming words and simply hear a political commercial in my head when he says that everything is fine. #2 on my list does not rule with an iron fist, but more like a substitute teacher trying desperately to comprehend a situation that has already defeated him.
Part 3: Former Head Coach Jim Tressel – The Senator is a topic that hardly needs to be brought up, since so many people across the country are aware of his wrongdoings, thanks ESPN. Tressel is another good person, who I believe truly cares about the individuals on his team and treats them like family. He wants them to grow and become men, not just boys that play a game, and yet the example that he is leaving behind is a negative one. Hopefully people remember the good, but his failure to resolve this issue with integrity will forever stain a good reputation.
Parts 4 through…who knows: OSU Football Players – Maybe this is the part where Gene Smith gets confused. Sure, a vast majority of OSU players have done no wrong, have taken no improper benefits, and have no business being lumped together with the others. On the other hand, a team IS the sum of its parts. By Smith’s definition, are we not at a “systemic problem” level until each and every player on the roster has done something against the NCAAs standards? I’m not naïve enough to think that OSU is leading the pack in NCAA violations, but we’re the ones under the magnifying glass. Other programs have bigger issues than Ohio State and have simply done a better job of hiding it. Also, let’s be honest, although the national media may make our players out to be felons, for the most part, they are good kids who simply made a bad choice or two. We aren’t talking Miami bad here, please remember that. Their players were living a glorified rap video fantasy in their real lives by getting drunk on boats with strippers and hookers. Our players sold or traded their OWN items for cash/tattoos. HOWEVER, what they did was wrong and they should be held responsible.
Ohio State has a chance right now to make up some ground, albeit a minor victory in this battle. Dan “Boom” Herron and DeVier Posey, two leaders on this team, both in on-field production and behind-the-scenes support, while being investigated this past year managed to screw up again. They each took home too much money from summer jobs because the hours were reported incorrectly. This is inexcusable and must be handled differently than the rest. Simply tacking another game onto their suspension shows that we’re fine with slapping them on the wrist. This season is not lost by any means, but it will not be a national championship, or likely even a Big Ten championship. Put your foot down and PROVE that you do not want this problem to be systemic. Remove Boom and DeVier from the team for the remainder of this season. Two team leaders that had already broken the rules did it again, so this is your chance to show the future recruits and even current players with remaining eligibility that they can be good on the field, but if they do not uphold the university’s values and integrity, then they can easily be removed.
Right now, this is a systemic problem, but the people in charge have a chance to change that…