We don't want to beat this story about Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee's controversial December comments into the ground. But Sports Illustrated has posted the entire audio from Gee's talk during a Dec. 5 meeting of the Buckeyes athletic board, and it appears we'd only scratched the surface of the lightning-rod remarks by the Bow Tie.
Let's get right to the most stunning part of the new Gee comments, concerning former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema leaving for Arkansas.
“Someone was saying to me, well, you know, Bret Bielema leaving … that was a blessing for Wisconsin and they knew it. Because he was under tremendous pressure. They didn’t like him. Barry Alvarez thought he was a thug. And he left just ahead of the sheriff.”
Wow. Just ... wow.
Gee also talked about the possibility of the Big Ten becoming a superconference of 16-to-20 teams and dropped these nuggets:
"The blocking strategy is that we simply have now put the ACC in an almost no-win position. So who do they immediately go to? Louisville. They may think about Cincinnati. They may think about Connecticut. But they’ve lost their foothold in that middle part of the area, in that middle part of the Atlantic coast. ...
"I think the Big Ten needs to be predatory and positive rather than waiting for other people to take away from them. Very candidly, I think we made a mistake. Because thought about adding Missouri and Kansas at the time. There was not a great deal of enthusiasm about that. I think we should have done that at the time. So we would have had Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and then moved into that other area. I think, by the way, that that can still happen. ...
"I also think this. This is a high possibility. If the ACC continues to struggle, and Florida State goes off to the SEC or something like that, and Clemson moves in a different direction, all of a sudden Virginia and Duke, which are very similar institutions to -- and North Carolina -- which are very similar institutions to the Big Ten, there is a real possibility that we may end up having that kind of T that goes south. And I could see them joining us. And I could see them having a real interest in joining us. ...
"I would see potentially Missouri and Kansas. By the way it goes without saying this all has to be speculation that remains right here. And I could also see a T that goes south all according to what happens with the SEC, but we have to be ready to move.”
True or not, these are the kinds of things no Big Ten official would ever say on the record. And yet Gee said them in a meeting attended by lots of people, with the audio being recorded. How much is actual Big Ten strategy and how much he's just spouting off here can be debated. But don't forget that he is president of arguably the most powerful university in the league, and so you can't discount the influence of his opinions.
The SI.com audio also adds more to Gee's jibe about the SEC needing to "learn to read and write." Here it is in its entirety:
"Well, you tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write then they can figure out what we’re doing. I’ve been down there. I was the chairman of the Southeastern Conference for two years. I’ll tell you something. It’s shameful. It really is."
Gee already found himself in hot water with his own trustees and many others before this full audio came to light, so this won't help his cause. The Big Ten presidents are scheduled to meet on Sunday in Chicago. I'd love to be a fly on the wall there to see how Jim Delany and Gee's colleagues greet him after those remarks became public.