When he was Vanderbilt's Chancellor, Gordon Gee didn't think he was the smartest man in the room. He knew it.
He was unlike any chancellor these eyes have seen. He was affable with the media, to the point your humble scribe was invited (and attended) his Christmas party.
Gee used to amuse members of the Fourth Estate by serving bow-tie cookies in the press box at Vanderbilt football games. He knew the way to reach a sports writer heart was through his stomach.
Now on his second run as Ohio State's president, Gordon Gee has a two-prong personality. Keeping it alliterate with his name, Gordon Gee is a genius, and a goofball.
Sometimes Gordon Goofball has immersed himself in hot water by allowing his mouth to overload his brain.
He came close to getting fired at Ohio State when he tried to protect football coach, Gentleman Jim Tressel, even after the evidence was piling up against Tressel. He had knowingly allowed boosters to lavish his football players with freebies not allowed by NCAA rules.
It was stupid stuff, like free tattoos. Now, what red-blooded football player would pass up free tats?
Gee forced Tressel to leave the Buckeyes program. Athletics Director Andy Geiger took off after enduring a two-year investigation into improprieties on his watch in the football program.
Gee barely survived that storm.
Now, Gee is back in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Gee has broken the most obvious of rules. He tugged on Superman's cape. He spit into the wind.
Gee tried to be a comedian. He hammed it up during an Ohio State Athletic Council meeting on Dec. 5. He fired pot-shots at Notre Dame, the SEC and other things sacred in college football.
It took some time, but Gee's failed humor has come back to bite him in the bow-tie.
During the meeting, Gee responded to an allegation by some SEC fans that the Big Ten couldn't count, because it expanded to 11 teams, then 12 and now 14 members – but it still calls its conference the Big Ten.
“You tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we're doing,'' Gee stated. No one south of the Mason-Dixon line got the punch line.
Gee went on to criticize academics at Louisville and Kentucky, hoisting his nose in the air and claiming the Big Ten wouldn't add either school because the (Big Ten) presidents wanted institutions with similar academic integrity.
If that wasn't enough, he took on the Catholics and college football's most known brand worldwide, Notre Dame.
“I want to make it very clear, we have never invited Notre Dame to join the Big Ten,'' Gee said in a taped recording acquired by Sports Illustrated's on-line team. “And the reason is the fact that they – first of all they're not very good partners. I'll just say that. I negotiated with them during my first term (at Ohio State) and the fathers are holy on Sunday and they're holy hell on the rest of the week. You just can't trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or Friday. Literally. I can say that.''
He could say that, and did. Now, he's eating his words after receiving a reprimand by Ohio State's top trustees, saying Gee's ill-advised off-the-cuff remarks have embarrassed and divided the university. They charged his comments risked diminishing the collective efforts of the university and of Gee's own good work.
Ohio State will likely stick with Gee for a lot of reasons, all printed by the U.S. Treasury. He raised more money than Jesse James in his first five years at Vanderbilt (estimated $1.6 billion).
Gee needs to stick to baking those bow-tie cookies and leave the jokes to real comedians.
Contact wkrn.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at firstname.lastname@example.org.