O'Brien Lends Support For Geiger, Tressel

OSU basketball coach calls claims against athletic director as "ludicrous."

OSU men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien dropped by the football media luncheon today at the Hall of Fame Cafe to lend his support for embattled athletic director Andy Geiger and football coach Jim Tressel in regards to the Maurice Clarett situation.

O'Brien, soon to begin his seventh season as the OSU coach, told reporters he had been out of town for much of the last week and a half. Upon returning, he said he sat down and read much had been reported on the Clarett matter -- including criticism of Geiger -- and felt he had something to say.

"The thing that I really have observed and the thing that is really quite disturbing to me, quite frankly, I just came back from being out of town for a week or 10 days," O'Brien said. "And when I came back and I read all the things that were going on and, quite frankly, some of the things that were being attributed to Andy Geiger, it just seems to me to be ludicrous and there is some idiocy to a lot of this.

"I just want to make sure that people understand that there is not a coach at Ohio State that is not 100 percent behind Andy Geiger in all of this. My sense is that Andy is out on an island dealing with a lot of these issues.

"When, in reality, there's a lot of people who support him tremendously. Andy Geiger is a guy who is doing nothing but trying to protect the student-athletes and he is trying to protect The Ohio State University.

"I don't think anybody connected to Ohio State would want a better guy going through this for them right now than Andy Geiger.

"It may sound like I have an agenda, but I want to make one thing perfectly clear -- there are a lot of people supporting Andy Geiger in a time that has been very hard for him."

O'Brien said he would not have to look very hard to find support for Geiger within the department.

"I didn't ask anybody what their thoughts were," he said. "I personally feel very strongly about this. When I left, this stuff first came out about Maurice and all this. I thought it was going to go away.

"And then I came back ... some of the things that have been written have been ludicrous. Here's Andy, who I don't think is in a position to step up and defend a lot of this. He doesn't need me defending anything for him. But I feel so strongly about what Andy has done, not only for me but for this university, that I felt compelled to step forward and make sure he understands there are a lot of us who are behind him 100 percent.

"Think about some of the things. He's not interested in the welfare of student-athletes? All he talks about to us continually is how are the kids doing. We have the Younkin Success Center. In a time when schools are cutting sports to get compliant with gender equity, we're adding sports.

"I just hope and pray that the people who know what's going on realize that this is as good as it gets. We have as good a guy as you can have running the fortunes of this athletic department. We should all be very proud of what this guy is doing.

"For me to come back and see some of the things people have said about him, it just isn't right.

"I would do this for anybody who I felt was deserving of this, and I have done it for people I have a high regard for. If I would have asked all of the other coaches to come over here and do this, they would have been over here on horseback."

O'Brien was asked if any comments in particular -- namely those by Clarett advisor Jim Brown -- caught his attention.

"It was an accumulation of things. There has been some name calling, and I don't think that is right," he said.

"I don't know anything about Jim Brown, other than he is one of the greatest running backs ever. I don't know anything about that. For me, it's about the environment we're in now and my need to let Andy know there are a lot of us who are behind him 100 percent."

O'Brien did not believe the controversy will give the school a black eye.

"Ohio State and our reputation and the things that are going on around here, I feel very comfortable about," he said. "I think a lot of people feel good about this. This one isolated incident is very unfortunate.

"He's protecting a lot of people and I think he is doing the right thing."

O'Brien also had words of support for Tressel.

"If he spends all of his time dealing with all of this ... they had a very difficult game the other day and all it takes around here, and you guys know this, lose a couple of those kind of games around here and things change dramatically," O'Brien said. "What's he supposed to be doing, dealing with all of these distractions or getting his team ready for the next game?

"We all know they have a tough game coming up Saturday with N.C. State. I don't know where he finds the time to deal with all of the stuff on his plate as well.

"Andy and Tress right now have a lot of things they are dealing with."

O'Brien was asked whether the media or the intense hunger for information on the Buckeyes were to blame for how this controversy has, in some instances, spun out of control.

"I think it's a little bit of all of that," O'Brien said. "I ask the guys who cover our team all the time, 'Why is this such a big deal?' Sometimes I don't get it. The longer I'm here, I see it a little more.

"There is this thirst and hunger for information. As such, guys in your position have to keep feeding the monster. I don't think it ever ends.

"When you talk to people here at Ohio State, the answer you get is it's kind of the way it is and if you don't like this then maybe you don't need to be here."

O'Brien said the infrastructure inside the department is not to blame, either.

"Our compliance office is as good as it gets," he said. "Our academic support services are doing everything they possibly can. It's just a real bizarre set of circumstances.

"The problem is you just can't be with people 24 hours a day. We have educational seminars and we meet with our kids weekly to make them aware of some of the pitfalls. But sometimes things happen."

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