Fashion and No Filter: The Curious Case of E. Gordon Gee
You can tell a lot about a person just by studying the way they dress.
The man who wears an expensive suit wears the suit because: a) he has money; and b) he wants others to know he has money. He wants to look good, too. His shirts are never wrinkled, his ties are adorned with a perfect Windsor knot and his shoes are always shiny and never scuffed. Everything about him is calculated.
More times than not, your attire can define you, and sometimes it only takes one item. This is unfair, but it’s the only way to establish an opinion (and that opinion will be established one way or another) if words are never spoken and we never get to know the person behind the fabric.
One accessory that does this more than most is the bow tie. Forget the occasional wedding; I’m talking more about the gentlemen that still sport this fashion antique with pride.
Although this group has diminished over the decades, there still are a select few that make this statement. And there may be no one on earth that sports this with more pride than Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee. He wears it because he always has, and also because it separates him from you and I.
Gee owns more than 1,000 bow ties, and he likes to be seen in one of his 1,000 bow ties whenever possible, which if it was his choice, would be as often as possible. There aren’t many university suits that garner media attention on a regular basis, but he’s made a point of frequently making his thoughts known to just about anyone willing to listen. He is, and always has been, this way, dating back to his first stint at Ohio State, his brief and rocky stopover at Brown and his stay at Vanderbilt.
During this time, he’s accidentally insulted the Polish army, he’s made a BCS argument against “The Little Sisters of the Poor,” he’s publicly stated that he hopes his head coach doesn’t fire him, he’s told Bret Bielema to “get a life” (many might side with him on this one) and most recently he’s had some choice words for the NCAA regarding the one-year bowl ban they imposed on his university.
Speaking with the Ohio State student newspaper, The Lantern, Gee offered up the following:
First of all, the NCAA — if we would have given up five bowl games, they would have imposed the sixth on us because they were going to impose a bowl ban. This was Ohio State. This was (the NCAA's) moment in time, and they were going to impose a bowl ban no matter what we did.
Athletic director Gene Smith did not feel this same sense of inevitability back in July, when he mentioned that he would be “shocked and disappointed and on the offensive” if Ohio State was given a bowl ban. The Buckeyes chose not to self-impose their own bowl ban for the 2011 season and instead fell to the Florida Gators in the Gator Bowl.
You can argue the deservedness of Ohio State’s bowl ban—and loss of nine scholarships over the next three seasons—but an argument requires evidence and other items of note that may support an intelligent stance.
Was Ohio State made an example of? Well, the NCAA has made it very clear that they don’t like to be deceived and will act accordingly to set this precedent. Gee, however, has made it clear that he’d rather rant than research.
By asserting that this is simply a vendetta against the university without providing any substance is treating this as if this was his personal Ohio State message board. And to think all this time I’ve wondered who “HORSESHOEPREZ99” is on the Buckeye message boards I frequent.
Gee is content being a mascot with a microphone. Not only is he content, he’s seemingly embraced his role as the town drunk or the crazy uncle. His comments attract attention; he enjoys the attention; so he’ll keep firing away without discretion because he can. It’s a shame, too, because despite all of his social shortcomings, he’s done quite a bit for his school.
From an athletics standpoint, Ohio State has, without question, flourished since he grabbed a hold of leadership for round two. More recently, he was able to lure Urban Meyer out of retirement and back to his home state. Whether or not this was due to Gee or simply a blank check at one of the nation’s most attractive coaching spots is no doubt a valid question.
Still, it all took place under Gee's watch.
Despite the success, it’s impossible to view Gee as more than just a talking head with no filter. He’ll continue to use his platform to say whatever he feels at that given moment. Perhaps eventually he can change, maybe even box up all those bow ties and simply loosen up his collar instead.
Somehow, however, I doubt it.
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