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- ‘Lotta ties, lotta ties’
- Crossing the line
Ohio State and Urban Meyer dropped the ball
Both are to blame for handling of Zach Smith allegations
Ohio State University head football coach Urban Meyer was suspended for the team’s first three games of the 2018-19 season for his handling of domestic abuse allegations against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith.
Meyer fired Smith on July 23, 2018 after domestic abuse allegations against Smith from 2015 by his wife, Courtney, surfaced.
Meyer would go on to say that he had no idea of the allegations at the Big Ten Media Day just a few days later, but a 23-page investigation led by former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White revealed that Meyer and Athletic Director Gene Smith (who was suspended without pay from Aug. 31 to Sept. 16) both knew about the 2015 allegations.
The report details a text conversation between Meyer and Smith on how to handle questions about the 2015 allegations at the Big Ten Media Day.
“AD Smith cautioned ‘I would be careful. Do not get too detailed,’” the report states. “He went on to advise that whatever Coach Meyer says on this subject at Big Ten Media Days should be said in his opening statement ‘and take no more questions on it.’”
Smith even offered a potential statement that Meyer should make to the media to handle the allegations against the former receivers coach.
“‘As you are aware through our release, we have made a change in our wide receivers coaching position,’ Smith wrote to Meyer. “‘As Zach dealt with his personal challenge I was aware of two legal instances in 2009 and 2015. This most recent issue is inconsistent with our values. . . . Needs to be cleaned up in your words…..just a thought.’”
The situation gets murkier when the report details that Courtney Smith reached out to Shelley Meyer, Urban’s wife, in 2015 about Zach Smith abusing her.
“Courtney Smith shared, by text and telephone, her allegations of abuse with Shelley Meyer and others, including a number of photographs that have since become public,” the report states.
The report also concludes that it is “likely” that Shelley and Urban Meyer spoke about these allegations at some point in 2015.
In addition, Smith has had a pattern of illegal behavior since coaching for Meyer at the University of Florida in 2009.
In 2009, Smith was arrested “for aggravated battery on a pregnant female, his then-wife Courtney Smith,” according to the report.
However, Meyer failed to bring up Smith’s 2009 arrest to Ohio State when he hired him to join his staff.
Still, Ohio State justified Meyer’s actions in the report by saying:
“Although it would have been better for Coach Meyer to have informed OSU about Zach Smith’s 2009 arrest, there was no violation of policy, law or contractual obligation by Coach Meyer in not doing so. No one else at OSU violated any policy, rule or law in connection with the hiring of Zach Smith.”
Since being hired at Ohio State, Smith was arrested in 2013 for operating a vehicle while impaired, as well as ran up multiple credit cards while on recruiting trips by taking high school coaches to strip clubs, according to the investigation.
Zach Smith had no business coaching for Ohio State.
And while Urban Meyer received a lot of criticism for his handling of the apology for his role in this event, he did release a statement on Friday apologizing to Courtney Smith and her children.
But it comes down to this: Ohio State was more concerned about winning football games than doing the morally right thing.
Meyer is undoubtedly one of the greatest college football coaches ever. He has compiled a career 177-31 record in 17 seasons according to College Football Sports Reference.
He is also 11-3 in bowl games and has won three national titles, two at Florida and one at Ohio State.
So, keeping a coach of his prestige was vital for the success of Ohio State’s football program that generates massive revenue for the school.
In fact, Ohio State’s football program generates almost $90 million per year for the university according to the Dayton Daily News.
Urban Meyer wasn’t going anywhere.
The entire 23-page investigation almost seems as it is trying to give Meyer a pass at every turn.
The investigation blames a medication Meyer was taking for “memory loss” that could’ve caused him to lie at Big Ten Media Day about his knowledge of the 2015 incident.
It also uses Meyers mentor, Earle Bruce, who is also Zach Smith’s grandfather, as a reason why Meyer didn’t take more action.
ESPN’s Jay Bilas gave his thoughts on Twitter of Ohio State’s standards after the decision was made to only suspend Meyer for the first three games of the 2018-19 season.
“Urban Meyer was ‘not complete and accurate’ at media day,” Bilas wrote. “Wow. That’s some rhetorical gymnastics. I’m not sure one can do a limbo dance low enough to see Ohio State’s ‘high standards.’”
He isn’t alone.
ESPN’s college football analyst Booger McFarland has a similar reaction.
“Urban lied, Ohio St is willing to deal with it to win games, bout sum it up?” he said via Twitter.
Look, Urban Meyer wasn’t the subject of the domestic violence allegations. But, all signs point to him having some knowledge of the situation and that he did very little about it.
Then, in his original apology for his handling of the situation, Meyer didn’t even mention Courtney Smith’s name.
Instead, he apologized to “Buckeye Nation” for letting them down.
He said that he “wish he had done more” and “needed to show more care and concern for the situation” according to Yahoo! Sports, but is that enough?
Apparently to Ohio State it was.
The school dropped the ball because they didn’t find out more about Zach Smith before he was hired.
They failed to do their due diligence to avoid this situation and gave Meyer a slap on the wrist as a “punishment.”
The Ohio State practice facility has a sign that reads this according to USA Today.
TREAT WOMEN WITH RESPECT
NO DRUGS NO STEALING NO WEAPONS
The Zach Smith domestic abuse incident threw two of those values out of the window.
And the program has nobody to blame but themselves.