Let’s start here; I used to write sports, so I’m going to do my best to avoid the sports narrative of this conversation, but I will use it as a piece of the puzzle in trying to sort out my thoughts.
My family is not an Ohio State family, not until I decided to transfer to this school in January of 2017 to knock-out my last two-and-a-half years of college. Since my move, my family adapted to Buckeye culture and now proudly wear their scarlet and grey gear among the public.
Ohio State is an amazing school, I feel the people employed by this university as educators are incredibly qualified and talented. With that said, I’ve started to have my concerns with the athletic department, most prominently due to the very famous (infamous) head football coach and the AD’s handling of a certain situation.
I do not think Urban Meyer is a bad man. I do not think Urban Meyer wanted bad things to happen to Courtney Smith.
I do think Urban Meyer is incredibly selfish. I do believe he knew exactly what he was doing, but I don’t think he anticipated he, nor Zach Smith would be caught in the media hailstorm (which was of their own making).
Last night, the school unveiled a long-awaited punishment, one I find appropriate; Meyer misses the first three games of the 2018 season, including a huge game against No. 16 TCU during the final week of the suspension.
Ideally, it’s a wake-up call to a coach whose success is palpable at a school mainly known for its football program.
The awkward, yet relatively effective investigation led by Mary Jo White showed Meyer acted poorly (or if you need the politically correct word, ‘inappropriately’) and lied through his teeth on multiple occasions.
Yet, when it came time for Meyer to save a little face at the end of the investigation at last night’s presser, Urban appeared bored and inconvenienced as he unearthed a lacking apology.
The statement was just totally underwhelming.
Deep down, there isn’t a soul in Buckeye nation who thinks Urban Meyer is innocent; the Brett McMurphy story is just too damning (even though I think McMurphy knows his story looks better if he makes Urban Meyer seem like Darth Vader).
Meyer will return to the field this season, which is much more than some feel was appropriate, while others claim the situation warranted no suspension.
Hopefully, the parties can find some sort of relief in a compromise of three games, plus a continuing suspension of Meyer from practice until September 2nd.
Meyer can’t be with the team during a crucial period, the period that’ll set the tone for the entire season, as players are doing the fine-tuning in their preparation for the season.
Granted, AD Gene Smith will serve a suspension as well for a failure to disclose important information (lied) about the track record of Zach Smith. However, Gene Smith isn’t a monolithic symbol of this university like Meyer, or any other long-tenured football coach for that matter.
Generally speaking, I have true concerns going forward about Urban Meyer, particularly the way he conducts himself with other humans, as a member of The Ohio State University.
I love this school, I love the oval, and I love the reputation of our academics. I don’t love that the greatest-known employee of this school attempted to cover up a really, really, REALLY bad situation involving a staff member… but the whole narrative would be different if it was as simple as a manager firing a staff member.
Urban Meyer is no villain, he’s just interested in maintaining ego and reputation, as a winner. This is the way he, much like many other college-level coaches, are willing to cover up the bad with the intent of adding a notch in the victory column.
In closing, I’d like to point out the effort of Ohio State president, Michael V. Drake, as it was Drake who allegedly pushed for a greater-than-nill punishment for Meyer, as Gene Smith joined the head coach to push for an immediate return to action.
Over the next week-plus, I hope Coach Meyer thinks a lot and says little; so far his words have done nothing but point fingers or act to bludgeon allegations he once faced. Afterall, it seems he has a large lesson to learn about taking care of people at risk, not to mention something about telling the truth.