Ohio State Buckeyes: Gene Smith’s interesting relationship with fans

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith had a radio interview this morning talking about the upcoming football season and what still needs to be done to make it happen. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith had a radio interview this morning talking about the upcoming football season and what still needs to be done to make it happen. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

I have a love/hate relationship with Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith. On one hand, I believe he is far and away one of the best Athletic Directors in college sports today. On the other hand, I wish he would gauge the temperature of Ohio State Buckeye fans before making rash and unnecessary decisions or commenting on things that get the fanbase riled up.

Smith’s ability to raise money and monitor the Ohio State Athletic Department finances has been top-notch. During his 18-year tenure at Ohio State, he has seen the construction of the Covelli Center (wrestling, volleyball, and gymnastics), the Ty Tucker Tennis Center (tennis), the Buckeye Varsity Field (field hockey), and the Ohio State Lacrosse Stadium.

He has helped weather the storms through several NCAA investigations and has even taken a self-proposed leave of absence without pay when I am positive he had little to do with the Zach Smith incident.

Smith’s ability to direct the largest athletic department in the country from a monetary standpoint, all while maintaining a nonprofit that deals in the hundreds of millions of dollars, is impressive. He seems to have an open ear to the student-athletes and genuinely cares about their well-being beyond the wins and losses within their respective programs. He is a leader on many social and community issues, all while maintaining a poised demeanor that isn’t threatening to individuals who may have a different viewpoint.

But all of that good, which I honestly love, seemingly gets tarnished when you look at some of the not-so-great things he has done and said over the past 18 years. It was a long time ago, and I’m sure Gene would admit privately if he was honest that he wished he would have handled the Jim Tressel situation differently.

To this day, many within Buckeye Nation refuse to forgive Smith for self-imposing a post-season ban on the team in 2012, which resulted in Ohio State not being able to play for a National Championship after going 12-0 on the season.

More recently, Smith has made some pretty asinine comments, such as playing a first-round tournament game if rewarded home field in Indianapolis, Indiana at Lucas Oil Stadium of Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan instead of Ohio Stadium because in his words, “I don’t want a hard surface for the players.”

How about his stance on not playing night games in November? “I always think about that couple in Canton, Ohio, who’s 70-something-years-old, season-ticket holders….But for them to have to make a decision to come to a night game the Saturday before Thanksgiving, I just would prefer to take that burden off of them.”

Can someone please find this couple from Canton, Ohio who is in their 70s, and ask them if it was a night game on October 31 versus November 7, why the game on November 7 just isn’t doable but the one on October 31 is? Thank you.

Recently on The OHIO Podcast, we discussed this very topic. I have provided a short YouTube clip for you.

During that discussion, we polled The OHIO Podcast audience on social media and asked them their opinion on how they viewed Gene Smith. Their options were; A.) Get rid of him! We can do better. B.) Keep him! He is one of the best ADs in the country. C.) Indifferent. I don’t have a strong opinion either way. Only 18% wanted to keep him. A minority, yet very vocal 26% said to get rid of him. And the majority at 56% was indifferent.

Next. Ohio State dodged a bullet with Dylan Raiola. dark

I understand that no matter what Smith does or says, there will always be a small minority that won’t forgive him for the self-proposed post-season ban in 2012. But Gene could do himself a favor in persuading the 56% who are indifferent to him if he would just engage with the fanbase a little more before voicing his opinion on their behalf.