Jim Valvano could be terribly funny. Same with Billy Tubbs, Lou Holtz and Rick Majerus.
But there are getting to be fewer funny coaches, and there’s a reason: too much to risk. I hate to see quotable coaches disappear, but I understand it. It’s too easy for something to be taken wrong, to have something slip out, or to just plain put your foot in your mouth.
Case in point, Ohio State University President Gordon Gee, who might be hilarious in person, but it’s not translating in print. The Utah native keeps getting himself in trouble going for laughs. The latest were derogatory remarks about Notre Dame and Catholics, saying they couldn’t be trusted. This isn’t the first time. Not by a long shot.
Gee, who graduated from the University of Utah and taught at BYU, ended up issuing an apology this time and is undergoing a “remediation plan,” which sounds like “putting a muzzle on him.”
If you listen to the audio, it seems he said it in jest, and that it was less harsh than it appears in print. Still, university presidents aren’t supposed to be gag writers.
Considering the number of times Gee’s jokes have got him in trouble, this is just plain weird. He’s been a top administrator at West Virginia, Brown, Vanderbilt, Colorado and Ohio State and made millions while doing it. He was named by Time magazine as the best college president in America.
Yet whenever this happens, you have to ask: Is he really the smartest person in the room?