(Disclaimer: I normally avoid topics like this in part because of the vile sometimes being thrown out, but I just wanted to figure out how to make some sense of this and just have a take on this; I know I will have disagreements and such, but and as I said before, I don’t know all of the facts of this, but what I do know does not look good for Urban Meyer, Ohio State, or anybody else involved)
So, Urban Meyer is suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season for Ohio State, leaving his entire conference season unscathed.
I mentioned in the Endzone Podcast last weekend that I believed Urban Meyer would be suspended for four games which meant the Penn State game September 29. I was off by one. Maybe my take on there was a “hot take” or a surprising one at that, but I knew Ohio State wouldn’t fire Meyer.
Of course the social media blew up big time from the announcement of the suspension, which keeps Meyer from the Buckeye sidelines against Oregon State (easy W), Rutgers (easy W), and TCU (a W but that game will be a fight). Fans who weren’t Buckeyes fans (pretty much the nation) were screaming he got off light. Buckeyes fans were screaming he shouldn’t have paid any price and should be coaching in the first game of the year, therefore creating a social media war through Facebook, Twitter, and others.
And I probably don’t make either side happy with my take.
I also said in the podcast that we didn’t know ALL the facts of the story and that to me was something I waited until it came out before I made a judgement, so here we go.
Zach Smith is not a role model and a poor one for kids who are in their late teens and early twenties (understatement of the year I know and quite honestly I would use further, not-so-appropriate language to describe him, but I like typing on here so there).
Now from a “legal” standpoint, Urban Meyer did nothing wrong in regards of what he did (at least with Ohio State’s legalities). But doing nothing wrong from a legal standpoint and doing nothing wrong from a morals/ethics standpoint is far different.
Smith had numerous issues over the time he spent with Meyer. The abuse of his wife was major but it wasn’t the only thing. He ran up a $600 bill at a strip club with another Ohio State coach and some head coaches during a recruiting trip in Florida. He was arrested for driving while impaired, having an inappropriate relationship with a secretary on the football staff, etc. In other words, this guy was a real winner.
And Meyer kept him, even after Athletic Director Gene Smith even tried to get Meyer to fire him after the 2015 season, but he refused to do so. And as the report said he seemed to have a “blind spot” for Smith, pretty much whenever anything went wrong, there wasn’t a warning, a “write-up” so-to-speak on Smith, etc. Meyer did threaten to fire Smith after the strip club incident and invoked a “morality clause” to all his coaches. However, Smith’s issues continued and even with Gene Smith saying to Meyer “hey watch it with him as he’s probably in trouble with the law over domestic issues” Meyer debunked everything, showing loyalty to the guy until the very end when he finally fired Zach Smith.
Whether or not Urban Meyer believed Zach Smith was a good kid with a lot of flaws and believed he would turn it around is one thing. But when Smith had practically abused everything he saw (literally and figuratively) and Meyer turned a deaf ear to it. In a way, the feel was that Smith was like all those high school kids who were spoiled brats that had the nicest car, got the homecoming queen, and whatever else, knowing they could do or say anything and get away with it because their parents (in this case Urban Meyer) would not do anything to him besides wag a finger at his way and say “don’t do it again.”
Now Meyer says he did nothing wrong, and maybe he believes that. But the writing is on the wall and for a guy that loves to hold the high ground and have that holy attitude, it comes off as obviously very, very bad. And now the report showed that during the Meyer media days that he takes medicine that impairs his memory and he may have legitimately “forgotten” that. To quote Bill Lumbergh, “uh, yeahhh, I’m going to have to disagree with that.” If that IS the case, then Ohio State may need to talk to Meyer of a buyout right there if he is having some memory issues or at least get him serious help before it is too late.
Obviously Urban Meyer’s comments during and after the Big Ten media days did him no favors as he was blasted of first being a liar (but even Meyer’s and Ohio State’s public enemy #1 Brett McMurphy even stated, all head coaches lie to the media and none of them have been fired for doing so). Then when he clarified his comments, he first said he was “taken off-guard” by the questions and wasn’t prepared for it (thus looking incompetent) and then somewhat threw the actual university under the bus saying he reported everything (thus shifting the blame to the university). And then his comments made after the report was handed with his suspension.
Urban Meyer’s legacy will be forever tainted. Now does it affect recruiting at Ohio State? Probably not, but in terms of him being a guy with a wholesome image? Well, that was somewhat tossed out in his final days at Florida and that he may have played a role in covering up some of the issues notably with Aaron Hernandez. Whether or not things were true with that is another thing, but that comes back into light a little bit of Meyer possibly giving Hernandez more than a few chances to get his act clean at Florida and never did. Again, that we will not know but it does come off as more suspicious than ever.
Now Meyer isn’t the only one who looks bad. Ohio State has come off knowing more than what they did prior. Ohio State is a great institution, but they know that they are one of the premier college football blue-bloods in the nation and the 73-8 record under Meyer has shown that and only 6 teams have beaten Meyer’s Buckeyes in that run. As the local sports radio station down in Atlanta says “Ohio State is a football factory.” But now the university shows that they are a school that places football over all else. It isn’t necessarily of the punishment they gave Meyer, but the school letting Meyer run things his way to the point of allowing a guy like Zach Smith to be affiliated with the university. It says “we don’t care what you do as long as you win games.” And that shows that football trumps all else, especially in Columbus.
Now another aspect of this has been the fraction of the Ohio State fans screaming at everybody for saying that Meyer did nothing wrong and the ones who went at a rally to support Meyer a few weeks back. To those that did that: again, let me ask you, if the situation happened with Nick Saban at Alabama, Dabo Swinney at Clemson, better yet Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, how would you react? I promise if you say “well, there is no proof and they didn’t do anything wrong,” I’m calling some bull to that. The same Buckeye fans screaming for support for Meyer would be begging for the NCAA to give Alabama, Clemson, and Michigan the death penalties. And adding the fact that some of those Buckeye fans ripping Zach Smith’s ex even after it was shown that there was abuse, is honestly sickening. “But she squealed and tried to take down a program!” To that I say, well, if the program is flawed to that point…
Gene Smith looks very bad with this as well as some think he fell asleep behind the wheel. I think that he is somewhat of a lame duck AD at Ohio State because he pretty much lets Meyer run the Buckeyes outright and has no say in any matter. Who knows what his future will bring up.
Time will tell what happens with Ohio State on this. It could be a speed-bump in their Big Ten dynasty under Urban Meyer (who whether you like him or not is a great football head coach). But questions will be abound to the program now on the field or off the field. What happens when Meyer visits a prized recruit that may have a single mother that was a victim of domestic violence herself? Or this new wrinkle that he’s on medicine that impairs judgement and memories? Or maybe his memory is starting to get shot overall with or without medication?
But here’s the thing: Ohio State (the university, the players, fans) NEVER cares of what the rest of the nation thinks of him. They in fact will revel in all of it and love to use the “us vs. the world” mentality. So one argument I remember was that Urban was a victim “of the times.” Well, with how things have moved forward, Ohio State may be the last throwback of “the times” where football rules over everything. And that’s how the Ohio State University likes it, even if they are in the wrong on all of this.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat