The best part is the famously bow-tied Ohio State president’s remarks are both offensive – referring to new Arkansas coach Bret Bielema as a “thug” – and highly speculative – bring on more conference realignment!
Gee took shots at Bielema just one day after the former Wisconsin coach bolted for Arkansas. The move generated headlines such as this, from SI: “Arkansas hires Bret Bielema, deals another blow to Big Ten perception.”
Apparently such national attention didn’t sit well with Gee, who took to what he thought was a private circle to bash Bielema and any other topic that came up in conversation. Gee went so far as to say Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez, who hired Bielema and handed the program to him upon retiring, held a level of disdain for him.
“…That was a blessing for Wisconsin and they knew it because he was under a tremendous amount of pressure,” Gee said. “They didn’t like him. Barry Alvarez thought he was a thug and he left just ahead of the sheriff.”
Just… Awesome on all levels.
First of all, it should again be pointed out that Alvarez, when he was still the head coach, hired Bielema onto his staff. Alvarez later retired to become the athletic director and immediately named Bielema to the head-coaching post.
It also bears mentioning that Bielema, who, according to Gee, “was under a tremendous amount of pressure,” led the Badgers to three consecutive Big Ten championships culminated by three consecutive trips to the Rose Bowl.
Three. Consecutive. Rose Bowls.
Name the last coach to get fired after doing that. Oh, it’s nobody? None coaches have been fired after doing that? Got it.
Gee has since emailed an apology to Bielema. In the email, Gee wrote that comments he made about Bielema’s relationship with Alvarez were “unfounded” and “speculated.”
Now let’s get into Gee’s awesomely fan-like speculation on conference realignment.
For starters, Gee apparently takes great pride in the perception that the Big Ten – and potential plans for expansion – has the ACC on the ropes. Gee openly speculated that North Carolina, Virginia and Duke would all be potential targets.
Message board mongers might say this is not new information. Rumors of these schools – and Georgia Tech – being potential objects of Big Ten affection have existed for some time now.
Hearing these words coming from one of the most powerful person in the Big Ten, however, is big news – as is Gee’s message that the Big Ten “needs to be predatory and positive rather than waiting for other people to take away from them.”
Gee lamented the Big Ten’s fairly public rejection of Missouri, which has since joined the SEC after determining life in the Big 12 to no longer be suitable. He also said he thought Missouri and Kansas would have been ideal fits.
Despite Missouri’s move to the SEC, there is still speculation the Big Ten could try to bring the university into the fold. Gee also indicated that a potential move on Missouri is still in play.
The Ohio State board of trustees came out Friday saying that Gee has “embarrassed” the university. At least the entire audio is public now, so these leaks will stop, but Gee seems to have a lot of damage control ahead in his future.