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Gene Smith: Ohio State AD steps down from CFP selection committee

Gene Smith-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has stepped down from the College Football Playoff selection committee. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Gene Smith: Ohio State AD steps down from CFP selection committee

COLUMBUS — Gene Smith is ending his tenure on the College Football Playoff selection committee one year early.

Citing the need to be back on campus more with a new coach and plenty of construction going on in his athletic department, Smith’s move was announced on Friday by the group that brought him in to help determine the four-team field that crowns a national champion. And that decision to forgo his final year of a three-year appointment as a voter could have an impact on the football program beyond simply being around for his day-to-day responsibilities.

The last two years have both ended in controversy and with the Buckeyes on the outside of the College Football Playoff semifinals despite winning the Big Ten championship in both seasons. And the fact that Ohio State was even in discussion for a spot meant that Smith had to recuse himself from the discussion, putting one less voice in the conversation — and potentially decreasing the odds that somebody else could have gone to bat for arguably the strongest conference in the country.

“Serving on this committee has been an honor,” Smith said in a release. “Contributing to this great sport is always a privilege, and I will miss the time with my colleagues. It is imperative for me to have 100 percent focus in helping our new coach with his transition at The Ohio State University this fall.”

Gene Smith-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Gene Smith will have some time freed up to focus solely on his job as the athletic director at Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Smith didn’t cite the debate about the Buckeyes as a reason for stepping aside from the selection committee, and odds are he will continue to remain supportive of the system publicly as he largely has been after some initial apprehension. But this will likely be an encouraging development for the Buckeyes when it comes to the end-of-season debates, because the program has become a fixture for one of those coveted invitations on an annual basis.

Now Smith will be around to monitor it as Ohio State moves forward with Ryan Day in charge without having to deal with any outside distractions down in Texas during the meetings to put out updated rankings throughout the second half of the season.

Clearing his plate is a benefit for the Buckeyes. And potentially giving the committee one more voter who can talk about Ohio State could be a boost for the program as well.

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I’d love to see the reaction in the college football world if Tressel or Meyer took his place.

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Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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