Commentary: OSU needs to think outside the box in AD hunt
By Jon Spencer
Gannett News Service
Maybe Ted Ginn should be the next Ohio State athletics director.
Senior, not Junior.
Junior's got enough on his plate, playing wide receiver, return specialist, quarterback and maybe even some cornerback for the Buckeyes.
But it's something Junior said about his upbringing after starring in the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl that makes one think pops fits the description of what OSU needs in its next CEO.
And make no mistake. Anyone who presides over an athletics program with 36 sports, more than 1,000 athletes and a $79 million budget is a CEO. Preferably with an MBA.
Masters of Booster Awareness.
" You can't be messing with (boosters)," Junior said. "It's not just what (coaches) tell us, it's what my parents tell me. You know what's right from wrong. You know what you can take and what you can't ... It's easy. Just say no."
Quarterback Troy Smith, 4-1 as a starter and hero of the Michigan game, wouldn't say no to a cash handout from a booster, landing himself on suspension and AD Andy Geiger on coach Jim Tressel's sword.
Because Smith wouldn't say no, Geiger had to go.
Somebody had to be the fall guy for Smith's behavior and the constant off-the-field shenanigans going on within the football program. It wasn't going to be Tressel with his 2002 national championship and matching 3-1 records against Michigan and bowl opponents.
Even though he insists he wasn't forced out, it's hard to imagine a scenario that would have allowed Geiger to finish out his contract, which ran until July 2006. Not with both the football and men's basketball programs under NCAA investigation and the men's basketball team already saddled with a self-imposed one-year ban from post-season play.
So who, besides maybe Ted Ginn Sr. -- a high school coach who would be looking at a considerable bump in pay -- might want the AD job?
Who would want to inherit the headaches?
Believe it or not, plenty of clear-headed individuals.
Look at the positive side of the ledger when it comes to the athletic department's two biggest money makers.
The football program, if it passes NCAA inspection for the second time in three years, could be making a serious run at a national championship for the second time in four years.
The Buckeyes will have three gamebreakers at wide receiver in Ginn, Santonio Holmes and Tony Gonzalez, two capable quarterbacks in Smith and Justin Zwick, a veteran offensive line bolstered by the late-season insertions of guard T.J. Downing and tackle Kirk Barton, maybe the best linebacking corps in the nation and an athletic secondary that will have to find room for blue-chipper and Mansfield native Jamario O'Neal.
It won't hurt that Purdue and Wisconsin are being replaced on the 2005 schedule by Illinois and Minnesota. If the Buckeyes get past an early-season test at home from Texas, they may not face another speed bump on the road to the BCS title game until the regular-season finale at Michigan.
As for men's basketball, Geiger appeared to snag a good replacement for fired coach Jim O'Brien in Thad Matta. He took Xavier to new heights and, like Tressel, has fostered an outstanding relationship with the high school coaches in Ohio, something the East Coast-bred O'Brien never did.
Matta has already milked a lot out of a modest collection of players. It shouldn't take him long to upgrade the talent and turn around a program just six years removed from a Final Four appearance.
Thanks to Geiger, the athletic facilities are top-notch if a bit too corporate and sterile (in the case of Value City Arena) for some tastes. The overall program has top-five finishes in the Director's Cup, awarded by the National Association of Directors of Collegiate Athletics, the past two years.
So there should be candidates aplenty for the post he plans to vacate on June 30.
Two-time Heisman winner and OSU Alumni President Archie Griffin understandably seems to be the popular choice, especially given the fact he worked for 19 years in the athletics department.
He says he doesn't want the job and, at the risk of sounded blasphemous, nor should he be encouraged to take it.
With all due respect to Griffin and potential candidates such as former Buckeye basketballer and Columbus businessman Bill Hosket and Geiger disciple Paul Krebs, now the AD at Bowling Green, the school should not consider anyone within the department or with recent ties to the current adminstration.
If the school wants to be seen as sincere about cleaning up the mess Geiger's too trusting attitude helped create, it will hire an outsider whose objectivity won't be questioned, whose impressions won't be influenced by relationships already established and whose opinions won't be colored by what has been said and written during two years of unrest.
Joseph Alutto, dean of the Ohio State Fisher College of Business and head of the search committee, said Geiger's replacement should be someone with a bulldog mentality.
Which brings us to -- are you sitting? -- the two perfect candidates: Texas Tech basketball caoch Bob Knight and former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura.
Tell me they wouldn't lay the smack down.
Both men have made creative and destructive use of folding chairs in their careers, which had nothing to do with sitting in them. That, alone, would serve as a deterrent to transgressors under their watch.
Knight, an OSU alum, may be a bad boy but he has never accepted that kind of behavior from his players during his legendary career. In matters of academics and discipline (except self-discipline), he has been above reproach.
After his WWF days ended, Ventura became governor of Minnesota, so he not only cuts an imposing figure but knows his way around balance sheets and multi-million dollar budgets.
Given his background and Knight's own penchant for rasslin' with anyone who gets in his way, maybe they could do a tag-team number on Geiger's job.
Go ahead and laugh, but here's betting all the black eyes -- other than the ones they dole out -- would end.
Originally published Saturday, January 8, 2005