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February 7, 2018

Gene Smith

Columbus, Ohio

GENE SMITH: Yes, we are working on a contract extension for Urban. Made a recommendation to our president. He supported it. My ability to move forward and work on that hasn't been approved by the board. It will got to board in April. There will be a recommendation on his salary, there will be a two-year extension which will make it five years total for his contract. Someone asked earlier about the assistant coaches salaries. We're in the middle of getting their term sheets signed. We got approval from the president to increase their salaries and this is our normal cycle. Some of you know, our assistant coach contracts run February 1 to February 1. So it's our normal cycle, not out of the ordinary, after a bowl game Urban and I sit down and we look at the salaries. And then this is the first year with our new vice president for HR at the university that we took a comprehensive look at all of our assistant coach salaries. So everyone will have an increase and some will have one-year contracts, some will have two-year contracts, that's Urban's call. So we'll hopefully we'll have those done next week and we'll get that information to you through Jerry. So I just wanted to tie down a time frame around those comments. I'll just take a couple questions, Jerry, if that's helpful.

Q. Will one of those assistant coaches or more break the one million dollar barrier?
GENE SMITH: Yes. We'll have that for first time.

Q. Who will that be?
GENE SMITH: We'll let you know next week.

Q. And number two, will Urban's new situation put him in the Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher realm?

Q. Seemed like you were outspoken about that the last couple days. I wonder if you could share with us a little bit about why you think maybe the salaries have gotten out of hand, what can be done to reel it in at this point, if anything?
GENE SMITH: Relative to your second question, there's nothing that can be done. Everybody has a different market, where they are. And what Alabama did was right for them and what Texas A & M did was right for them. But it skews the whole market when those things occur. So it makes it challenging for all of us. But the reality is we have to compensate people consistent with the expectations and their performance. So we have always done that, we'll do the same with your Urban when his contract comes up, you'll see that. But do I think that there's some things that are out of kilter with the entire -- when you look at the market, it has skewed things so crazy, if you include them in the market. I'm not a big believer in 10-year contracts, I'm just not one of those guys. I think that that's, I mean a full guaranteed 10-year contract, I'm just been in this business too long to understand what that means. So I think that skews things. So when you have those one off's and that's rights for them, let's be clear. It's not -- that's right for them, but not right for us.

Q. I know it has required a philosophy change. How at peace are you with that?
GENE SMITH: Totally at peace. It's not a philosophy change. It was always a concern of mine about what we would be capable of. We have 36 sports. A thousand athletes. We're blessed right now. We're Buckeye Nation. Trying to keep our ticket prices at a reasonable level, because we're a hundred percent self supporting. We'll transfer this year somewhere around 42, 43 million dollars to the institution out of our 191 million dollar budget. We pay for all of our grant and aid of 27 million. But if you strive for excellence for every sport you have, and I think we're somewhere around 15 or 16 sports in the Top-20 right now. If you strive for that, then you financially have to be able to do that. And we're 36, 37 percent of our budget is personnel, salaries. So when you make those quantum leaps like we're doing, it puts stress on your ability to reach that goal. So it's not -- it's more of a management issue than a philosophy. So that's what it is.

Q. Urban's contract extension, was that something that you approached with him or he --
GENE SMITH: Yeah, we talked about it at the -- it was after the bowl game. I can't remember if it was in Dallas or here, but I really heard the rumors somewhere, was asking the questions, I couldn't see over here, about the rumors about him leaving. It happens all the time -- or retiring -- I mean, I see that stuff, too, and say I've been doing this long enough time, I just got three years left, you know, probably hurts in recruiting. So we need to sit down and I brought it to him and said, hey, we need to talk about an extension in order to alleviate some of those concerns. And I know how healthy he is and how excited he is to be here and so we just need to deal with that. So I got approval from the president to move forward.

Q. When you talk about contract extensions and rumors and being aware of like the people thinking or wondering how long Urban's going to be, how much do you like to stay on top of his contract and how many years he has left for recruiting because it's a very important?
GENE SMITH: Huge, big time. Big time. Yes, it's for all of our sports. Anytime someone goes south of four years, that's when you have the challenges that we have now. Urban's always, for some reason, always had that rumor that he wasn't going to coach long. I don't understand that. And that's where our focus has been on making sure that he has a environment where he's comfortable. But once we got south of that four years, it's typical, I don't care where you are, for that issue to come up about, he's not going to be there when you are a senior, right? It's just simple. That's the way it's always been. So, yes, when that came up, I knew it was going to come up, it was just a matter of getting it done, so we're working on it.

Q. When you see that other coaches are bringing it up, and it's having an impact, what does that -- I'm sure you saw from afar that a major in-state prospect said something about how that was a concern --
GENE SMITH: It's part of the game. That's just part of the game. Some people will operate at the highest level of integrity and some don't. It's that simple.

Q. A guy asked about basketball, just a crazy question. 20 wins, the team is ranked in what should have been a transitional rebuilding year. I know they're still in the middle of this, they got a big game today. Has this gone about as well as you could have possibly hoped it so far?
GENE SMITH: I planned it this way. What's wrong with you? I knew it was going it to going to happen. You guys didn't ask me. No, it's phenomenal. No one could have a crystal ball and see what we're blessed to have now. But you guys, what I'm about to say, you know, his teaching, his coaching has been phenomenal. His transition in -- I can't stress enough about how well he managed that transition in. It was phenomenal. If you go all the way back to we didn't have the press conference I think until that following Monday, but he flew in on Friday before the press conference and spent time with those young men in that locker room. That was a pivotal moment, because that's where the trust began. That's where the trust began. And his ability to work with him individually and develop that bond individually, huge. And it empowered them to have ownership in some of his early decisions. He made some tough early decisions. Some personnel decisions that were tough. But he empowered them to be a part that have process, so the leadership and JT and them couldn't be better. But then you watch the teaching, the extra pass, focusing on minimizing turnovers. We knew going into the Illinois game what that would be, that was a grind, a dog fight, the toughness. The Butler game, that loss was about toughness. But he had video to demonstrate why it was so important to have that stamina and that fortitude to end games the right way. So I can go on and on about how masterful he's executed his job. It's fun to watch, I'm excited about it. I'll probably be punching the TV tonight after I drink a Diet Coke and go from there. So thank you. Hopefully I answered everybody's questions. Thank you so much.

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