Every day, it is our intention to start writing about the preseason polls and looking at some of best returning players and venues out there, and every day the college football landscape is dominated by new developments in the Urban Meyer fiasco. Yesterday, Meyer came out “fighting” for his job and issued a statement about his admitted actual knowledge of the allegations against assistant coach Zach Smith. However, he elaborated. ” My intention was not to say anything inaccurate or misleading. However, I was not adequately prepared to discuss these sensitive personnel issues with the media, and I apologize for the way I handled those questions”. Wow. What lawyer/politician wrote that for him? He went on to say that on Big Ten Media Day on July 24, (one day after he fired Smith for being charged with criminal trespass at his wife’s home and being served with a civil restraining order), Meyer deflected his knowledge about those incidents of domestic violence back in 2015 on the part of Smith. In fact, he denied it in front of the world and now later states he “failed” when stating his denial publicly.
I want to set the record straight because this writer is one of the very few who has from the beginning told you Meyer was in trouble and will never coach at Ohio State again. I am not anti-Urban Meyer as some of you have communicated. I believe we all make mistakes and should learn from them. Meyer is a tremendous coach, an incredible recruiter and a passionate man about his football teams. I do not know Meyer personally so one can only judge a person on what he observes. First footnote to this is that Meyer left the University Florida in shambles. His team was in disarray after winning two national titles and there were numerous arrests and problems of misconduct regarding his players. There seemed to be even then a lack of discipline in his program. After retiring for a year, that did not stop Ohio State from laying out the red carpet and hiring him as their head coach. He immediately went undefeated in his first season, won a national championship and kept the Buckeyes in the national discussion every year. One must remember, this is Ohio State; this isn’t John Jay College. This is one of those elite programs which puts almost all its athletic department resources into its football team. The head coaching job is one of the most coveted one in the country and the Buckeyes expect to contend for a national title every year. So, when there is a problem concerning domestic violence with a player or coach, it gets national attention and needs to be addressed. Meyer knows that. Guarantee he’ll tell you that.
So, let’s think for a minute after reading his prepared statement. What preparation is necessary to simply answer the question honestly? He flat out denied it. Did he forget? Did he have selective amnesia. Did he think he could get away with it? Who knows, but, that admission changed everything. The local Powell Police department, a suburb of Columbus, showed there were numerous complaints filed by Courtney Smith, Zach’s wife at the time. It was further revealed that Meyer’s wife, Shelley was aware of the accusations and indicated in a text, she had concerns about Smith’s wife’s safety. This is not a failure; this is an admission of guilt. He lied, pure and simple. His veracity was breached.
Next, we are hypnotized that it was not an issue of whether the allegations were true, it was only an issue about whether Meyer followed protocol. He continues to maintain that he did in the face of this egregious misrepresentation to the public. Once that was established, there’s not much else to say. Now, it’s just a question of can you keep your football coach, the highest paid public employee in the State of Ohio at 7.6 million after he comes out and denies any knowledge of knowing about something so serious and severe. His actions must be considered deliberate and offensive to all those victims of domestic violence. Then it got worse.
Zach Smith decides to do a television interview and give his side of the story essentially coming to Meyer’s defense and stating it wasn’t his responsibility to contact the police. Why he would even think about doing an interview while under the scrutiny of an outstanding criminal charge and hope he could do explain the situation is beyond comprehension. Instead, he made a terrible situation worse for himself and Meyer. And why he would go on national television to attempt to prove his innocence is beyond any respected lawyer’s sound advice. But there he was, talking up a storm, denying he ever struck his ex-wife and recalling one day in 2015, when Meyer after being notified by his Athletic Director, Gene Smith of the accusation, asked him if he ever physically struck his wife. He unequivocally denied the allegations, but the cat is now out of the bag. Smith knew as well. So, what did he do if anything? Tell us there was already an investigation going and let it take its normal course. Smith’s statements are moronic. Even Meyer knew he had a responsibility to follow the process which was part of any university’s policies when domestic violence his alleged. To not do so, would be a violation of the provision in his contract but also federal violation of Title IX. If Meyer failed to follow this protocol, he should be fired for cause. And if he did, which I doubt it, he should be fired anyway because of the denial and in essence “the coverup” when asked about the 2015 allegations. Do you know how many times Meyer has been asked by a reporter a question in his 17-year coaching career and he responded with “I’m not going to comment on this because…”. How easy is that. That response, although morally wrong, would have at least kept this secret going. Now the fingerpointing is in the administration’s direction.
And then it got even worse. Brett McMurphy, who broke this story, obviously became aware of Smith’s denial of any domestic violence and screen shot some text messaging between he and his wife at the time in which he appears to apologize to her for “the cheating lies and picking up by my neck strangling me in Punta Cana”. When asked later about that, he denied there was any violence, but the truth is in the message. Smith has no credibility after reading that.
So, what does Ohio State do? They expeditiously appoint six people to investigate what happened. First, I do not know any of these people. I’m sure all of them have impeccable integrity and are highly qualified for the responsibility. The problem is that three of them are on the Ohio State Board of Trustees. Who gave the administration that idea? They have a connection to the university. They aren’t just people who live in the community. They are in powerful positions in which they all debate and promote policies and make decisions which impact the school. What idiot is giving them legal advice? They have an inherent conflict of interest. It’s that simple. Even if the panel exonerated Meyer, their decision would already be tainted. I’d rather see the Board of Trustees from the University of Michigan than three trustees from Ohio State. Remember, too, this investigation is based solely on an individual’s interest in cooperating. Nobody can be placed under oath and nobody can be forced to be questioned. They have no power. It’s that simple. It says here the Ohio State administration is already setting up a course of action to perhaps see if this “investigation” could exonerate Meyer in the court of public opinion. It says here they are making a huge mistake and the fact that Meyer has already admitted he lied on July 24 will be an obstacle he will never be able to overcome. It’s time to resign or get fired. This program is now in chaos.