It may not be the best in terms of optics but we’re sure Gene Smith had non-refundable plane tickets and simply didn’t want to waste them.
Yes, the Ohio State athletic director is, according to WSYX in Columbus, out of the office this week on vacation — smack dab in the middle of a 14 day investigation into who knew (and did) what in the growing Zach Smith and Urban Meyer scandal that has quickly swept up the Buckeyes football program. The TV station reached out to Smith prior to running their report but he declined to answer questions, something that he will do for OSU if needed via telephone.
“He is available to speak with the investigative team. The university is focused on supporting our student-athletes as they prepare for the upcoming semester. We can’t comment further during the pending investigation,” said spokesperson Ben Johnson in an email.
While we all want to use up that vacation time that is accrued, Smith leaving town at this critical juncture is pretty notable considering the spotlight has shifted to his own actions in an alleged 2015 incident involving Zach Smith and his ex-wife Courtney Smith that involved pulling the assistant off the road from recruiting. The school has hired an outside investigator and created a separate panel of trustees to oversee the overall probe into the matter, which is expected to conclude sometime around August 19th. That would happen less than two weeks before OSU takes on Oregon State in their season opener and would also come prior to a full Board of Trustees meeting the Friday before.
The vacation time is not the only reason Smith is in the news either as it appears that even with all the attention on the football program, he is still set to serve on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee this fall. In a release this week noting the times for each set of committee rankings this year, Smith was listed as an active member and is set to recuse himself from discussions anytime Ohio State comes up for the group.
So if you’re scoring at home, Smith can talk about the state of the Buckeyes football program when on vacation but can’t do so when out of town working for the Selection Committee.