Former Ohio State defensive lineman Michael Bennett called on his alma mater to apply some pressure on the Big Ten Conference in the wake of the college football season being postponed.
Bennett, who played for the Buckeyes from 2011 to 2014 and later played in the NFL, tweeted his own frustrations Wednesday.
“You can’t convince me the Big10 does more for Ohio State than Ohio State does for the Big10. Flex a little muscle and lead the pack,” he wrote.
He also defended Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who appeared to be getting the brunt of the criticism from football fans who disagreed with the Big Ten putting the season on hold over the coronavirus and health concerns.
“I’m seeing a lot of Gene Smith hate that I don’t agree with. At the end of the day Gene is an employee who has to fall in line with his higher ups. There’s a lot of beaurocracy to navigate but it’s a shame OSU doesn’t seem to know it’s value or isn’t willing to apply pressure.”
The Buckeyes’ season was set to begin next month before the Big Ten, along with a handful of other Football Bowl Subdivision conferences, nixed any chance of having sports being played in the fall.
The Big Ten has mentioned the possibility of playing in the spring, but nothing was set in stone when the conference made its announcement Tuesday.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”
Smith released a separate statement on the matter.
“This is an incredibly sad day for our student-athletes, who have worked so hard and been so vigilant fighting against this pandemic to get this close to their season,” Smith said. “My heart aches for them and their families.
“[Ohio State President-elect Kristina M. Johnson] and I were totally aligned in our efforts to delay the start of the season rather than postpone. I am so grateful to her for all her efforts in support of our student-athletes and a traditional fall season.
“As an institution and as an athletic department, we have a responsibility first and foremost to care for the health, safety and wellness of our students and staff, and I believe we have done that successfully.”