When Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith pulled Urban Meyer out of a hat, I thought he had saved his job. More to the point, I thought he should have saved his job. That was a huge hire, the perfect hire, and for being able to pull off that coup, Smith deserved to stay.
And now I'm back to where I've been for the last year, wondering how the hell Gene Smith still has a job.
Other than the Meyer hire, Smith has shown the kind of incompetence that gets a guy fired in almost every other walk of life. If he was a football coach, he'd be Cam Cameron (NFL career record of 1-15, meaning he did win a game once). If he was a cook, he got the salad right but he burned the main course ... and the restaurant.
Never mind the incompetence, the inability to gauge a situation and respond correctly, after Smith learned Jim Tressel had lied to him and jeopardized the school's good name by playing Terrelle Pryor and others after those players had clearly broken NCAA rules. Smith's reaction was to stand by Tressel until someone else -- the NCAA, the school president, the board of trustees, someone -- made it clear to him that Tressel had to go.
That was so bad, I thought Smith should be fired. And I wrote as much.
Then he hired Meyer, a job-saving hire. As I wrote.
But now this. This miscalculation of NCAA penalties. This crazy, ridiculous, indefensible theory of his that the NCAA wouldn't give his football program a postseason ban for Tressel's enormous ethical lapse. That theory, which existed in Smith's mind and -- I assure you -- almost nowhere else, explains why the Buckeyes are playing in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2.
Because Gene Smith didn't think he should sacrifice the bowl game of this lost season to save a bowl game for next season. He didn't think he needed to. Gene, next time your phone rings, I can assure you this: It's not Mensa.
Smith was wrong about the severity of the NCAA violations, but it's more than being wrong: He was stupid. What Tressel allowed under his watch was worse, I'd argue, than the latest scandal at Southern California. Pete Carroll didn't catch a cheater, no, but Tressel caught one ... and let him play anyway.
And still, after the Trojans were hit with a postseason ban, Gene Smith thought the Buckeyes wouldn't be?
Thanks to his boss's misjudgment, Urban Meyer has to start his career with a postseason ban hanging over his first season, undercutting his first recruiting class.
If I'm running Ohio State, I'm firing Gene Smith today. But I'm not running Ohio State. E. Gordon Gee is, and that dude told the Columbus Dispatch on Tuesday, after the sanctions came down, "I have been a consistent supporter of Gene and remain so."
Then you should go too, E.