CHICAGO — Don’t let what happened at Penn State, and even Ohio State for that matter, cloud your view of college football. That advice comes from Gene Smith.
“It’s still a great game,” the Ohio State athletic director said during an interview at the Big Ten Conference media days.
“Don’t paint college football with a broad brush. Keep in mind there are hundreds and hundreds of institutions that don’t have the issues that we had, and Penn State has.
“Don’t indict the entire system because of a few bad actors.”
Smith, a former Iowa State athletic director, is in charge of a program that is ineligible for the 2012 football postseason after the NCAA ruled some players received improper benefits during the Jim Tressel coaching regime.
“We made a huge error,” Smith said. “I would not want a school like Stanford indicted because of the errors that occurred in our situation or in Penn State’s situation.
“I would hope all the fans keep that in perspective.”
Smith read closely the Freeh Report, which said top Penn State officials, including former football coach Joe Paterno, concealed child sex abuse allegations against then-retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Smith then listened intently as NCAA president Mark Emmert said Penn State put “hero worship and winning at all costs” ahead of integrity while announcing the sanctions last Monday.
“We tend to make a lot of people iconic,” Smith said. “Music stars … coaches … and then they become vulnerable.
“We need to continue to make sure they understand accountability and responsibility.”
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta agreed.
“Our society has a tendency to put those types of people — the successful ones — on a pedestal, and that’s OK,” Barta said. “Where it becomes a problem is when somebody starts to believe too much of their press clippings.
“I had a coach once, and there were people standing around him sort of worshipping him, and I was standing next to his wife and she said that he still takes the garbage out on Monday.”
Thursday night outside a Chicago hotel where Big Ten coaches were staying offered an example — about 50 people waited in the lobby for autographs as school coaches and officials returned from a dinner function.
“Society puts successful coaches on a pedestal,” Barta said. “That’s not going to change, and that’s OK. What I try to do is make sure we hire coaches, or retain coaches, who have a great balance in terms of their ego.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football