All of college football is focused on Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. We intended on analyzing and examining the fortunes and predictions of each member of the Power Five conference, respectively, but then this story emerged less than one month before the season starts. After all, Meyer is considered one of the greatest coaches of all time with three national championships and a winning percentage above 85% in seventeen years of coaching. A hall of fame career has been turned upside down.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave by Ohio State because of allegations that he knew about domestic violence accusations against assistant coach Zach Smith by his former wife and did nothing. The alleged victim, Ms. Courtney Smith, has had her character attacked all over social media. No less than nine complaints were filed by Courtney Smith against Zach Smith from January 2015 through July 2018. The Powell Police Department has charged Zach Smith with criminal trespassing from a May 2018 incident and after another incident in July where Smith was served by his ex-wife with a civil restraining order, Meyer had seen enough and fired his assistance coach. We are now hearing she is a drunk, that she lied about the accusations against her former husband back in 2015 when she filed these complaints against him and that she is in this for revenge and remuneration. Nobody knows if any of that is true. Not the media, not the Ohio State administration and certainly not what we are hearing from unidentified sources on the talk shows. But when there is smoke, there’s usually fire and there is a lot of smoke.
Everyone, however, is missing the point. We do know that Meyer has acknowledged he was aware of problems in the couple’s relationship back in 2009 and in fact, commented on it at Big Ten media day this year. He stated the police report was not accurate. Really? Unless Ms. Scott stated under oath her accusations were embellished, exaggerated or simply untrue, how can Meyer reach that conclusion? He can’t. Offering support and assistance? Why? Meyer had a responsibility then as he did now as the head coach of Florida to notify the proper individuals in the administration to investigate these allegations. He is not the investigator, prosecutor and judge. He is the coach and when those kinds of allegations were made, he couldn’t ignore it or remain silent. He obviously did and got away with it. That arrogance followed him to Ohio State primarily because Florida covered their ears and domestic violence was not seen as the serious issue then as it is now.
Now fast forward 2015. Everybody is talking about if Meyer knew about the allegations. Many are trashing the alleged victim’s veracity. The question of whether the allegations true is irrelevant. If Meyer knew about any allegation, he had a responsibility, not only morally but right there in his contract for which he is paid 7.6 million per year, to notify the administration, specifically his athletic director, president and anyone responsible for investigating the accusations. There is a process at over school to deal with allegations of domestic violence. Ohio State is no exception. It appears from what has been released his wife knew and there were no less than nine police reports filed against Smith. Do you think Meyer never knew? Some of the pictures which Ms. Smith has made public are gruesome. She also has texts from his wife which appear to show Meyer had actual knowledge about some of these allegations and yet, did nothing. Are we to believe his wife knew but did not tell him? Are we to believe he didn’t have any inclination of all the nine reports filed against Smith? Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt, there’s just too much here. How about a simple denial from Meyer? Not that either. He just went into hiding. He’s already lost Bob Evans as a sponsor and soon he will lose his job.
Today, we heard that Meyer “may not survive”. We told you yesterday he will never coach Ohio State again. Ohio State has elevated assistant Ryan Day as interim head coach. The team has been told to go on “radio silence” for all issues so no reporters can ask any questions. Is that what the Ohio State administration calls transparency. I call it a coverup. Either way, whether it’s a firing, resignation or a buyout, Meyer is through as a Buckeye.
This brings back memories of Baylor football coach Art Briles who did some incredible things at Baylor to bring them to national prominence but turned his eye to an environment filled with sexual harassment and assault allegations. He was fired in disgrace in 2015 as a result of being complicit to the coverup.
Then there is the disaster at Penn State when legendary football coach Joe Paterno, arguably the most powerful man at Penn State and a hall of famer, was fired because he was aware of serious allegations (which became convicted criminal charges) of sexual misconduct against assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and again did not do enough by his own admission.
Back up all the away to 1993, when Nebraska was led by Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne. Their star running back Lawrence Phillips was accused of domestic violence by another scholarship athlete, but Osborne allowed Phillips to play against Florida. He was criticized but never faced the scrutiny and national condemnation those face today. Phillips himself went on to be a bust in the NFL, and was convicted of unrelated criminal charges and sentenced to a lengthy prison term where he was later charged for murdering his cellmate and ultimately committed suicide while incarcerated. If Osborne had held Phillips out of this game, a much more severe punishment, would it have had any impact on Phillip’s life? We’ll never know.
Perhaps it is the internet which has brought the much-needed attention to these types of cases. Perhaps it is powerful people finally being held accountable for their actions, i.e. Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, etc. Perhaps it is the #me-too movement. It doesn’t matter why. What matters is that domestic violence and/or sexual harassment never can be tolerated in any environment. Certainly, we recognize that not all allegations are true, and every accused should be presumed innocent and not convicted in the media. After all, what happened to innocent until proven guilty. There is just too much smoke for Meyer to survive for his apparent breach of moral and contractual responsibilities. The case against him involves no exposure to a criminal charge but a possible violation of Title IX. The clock is ticking on his last days at Ohio State.