After a two-week (ahem) investigation, Ohio State University said Wednesday that football coach Urban Meyer had “mishandled” his response to domestic assault charges against Zach Smith, his former assistant coach with the Buckeyes and the University of Florida.
Translated: If you say “mishandled” instead of “butchered,” it helps you justify giving Meyer that paid leave of absence during the (ahem) investigation. It also gives you a little cover regarding the scarlet-and-gray mind games we’ll discuss next.
Ohio State suspended athletics director Gene Smith through September 16 for his role in the matter, but that was for show. He isn’t the biggest reason the Buckeyes are just shy of Alabama as the nation’s most dominating football program. Such honors belong to Meyer, now suspended by the university without pay for the first three games of the season.
Translated: I mean, you thought they would fire the guy? His salary is $7.6 million this year, which means he probably won’t need to hitchhike to a soup kitchen after he misses paychecks for Ohio State’s first three games.
Oh, and did you see those first three games? The Buckeyes open against Oregon State, which you shouldn’t confuse with Oregon, a national power compared with the former, which has seven victories over the past three seasons. Then comes Rutgers, and you may laugh now. TCU completes that trio with a No. 16 ranking in the preseason Associated Press poll, but the Buckeyes aren’t considered the No. 5 team in the country for nothing.
They have talent. Lots of it.
Guess who recruited that talent? Yep. After six seasons at Ohio State, Meyer is 73-8 with a national championship, and he came to the Buckeyes after racking up two national championships and a 65-15 record at Florida, where he landed after prolific stints at mid-major programs Utah and Bowling Green. He is the best college football coach of his generation not named Nick Saban, the Alabama genius with six national championships overall, and Meyer isn’t close to slipping.
Even so, those investigating Meyer for Ohio State said he “has sometimes had severe memory issues”¬†because of medicine he takes.
Translated: Meyer¬†suffers from memory problems only when he isn’t trying to bring another stud to campus, design X’s and O’s to beat Michigan or make a decision when the Buckeyes are facing fourth-and-whatever in the clutch.
Those same investigators mentioned in their report that after questions increased regarding when Meyer knew about the extent of the alleged spousal abuse involving Smith, he discussed with an Ohio State football staffer how to delete messages on his cellphone that were more than a year old. The investigators added that they couldn’t tell whether Meyer was actually trying to delete his older messages as part of a cover-up.
So investigators kept giving Meyer the benefit of much doubt.
Translated: We’re not talking about Woody Hayes. In case you didn’t know, he’s the greatest coach in Ohio State history, courtesy of five national championships and 13 Big Ten titles in 28 years on campus. Most folks say Hayes was fired moments after the 1978 Gator Bowl because he slugged a Clemson defender on national television when that player made an interception near the historically volatile Hayes on the Ohio State sideline. Sorry, historians, but here’s the real reason Hayes got whacked: He couldn’t beat Michigan anymore (three-game losing streak). But Meyer is 6-0 against the Buckeyes’ hated rival.
As for the Zach Smith case, it’s ugly. In addition to the a slew of news reports about his explosive relationship with Courtney Smith, his former wife, there was Courtney’s contention that Shelley Meyer, Urban’s wife, and other spouses of Ohio State coaches knew her situation.
Courtney said Shelley even promised she would tell Urban, but during Big Ten Media Days earlier this summer, Urban pleaded ignorance to just about anything other than his name, rank and serial number. In particular, he told reporters that July day he knew nothing about an alleged episode of domestic violence by Smith in 2015.
Translated: Meyer didn’t tell the truth. OK, he lied (“I followed my heart and not my head,” he said Wednesday), but so much for small details when his football program was the primary reason Ohio State’s athletics department made $185.4 million in total revenue during the period of 2016-17. Only Texas and Texas A&M topped that amount.
No wonder¬†that Ohio State’s board of trustees thought about Meyer’s untruths (along with the possibility of another national championship) on Wednesday during 11 hours of deliberations (which likely included a few rounds of “The Buckeye Battle Cry”) and said in a press release, “Although Coach Meyer made significant misstatements about his knowledge of the 2015 events relating to Zach Smith and his former wife at the Big Ten Media Days, they were not part of a deliberate cover-up effort to keep Zach Smith on the coaching staff in the face of evidence of domestic violence by him that Athletic Director (Gene) Smith and Coach Meyer credited.”