The Report, The Aftermath, And No Holding Back
A lot has gone on in the last few days, after the announcement of Urban Meyer’s 3-game suspension and release of the investigative committee’s report. The media has spoken out. Social media exploded. Attorneys have given their opinion. Even a OSU Board of Trustee member has had something to say. Seems like just about anyone who is breathing has made their feelings known. Well, now it’s my turn and some won't like what I have to say.
After reading parts of the report concerning Zach Smith, it is obvious he was an irresponsible pain-in-the-ass while on the Buckeye football staff and Urban Meyer should have fired him long ago. Meyer has said, and the committee agrees, he had a blind spot for Smith because of his relationship with Smith’s grandfather Earle Bruce. Meyer considers Bruce his mentor. If you know anything about Earle, he was a tough s.o.b. and, after reading the report, I know he would not have kept someone like his grandson on his staff.
The report refers to “extensive evidence during this period of misconduct and other problematic, or at least questionable, behavior” by Smith from 2010 to July of 2018.
1. A 2013 arrest for DUI, but the committee found no evidence of anyone at Ohio State knowing of this.
2. In May of 2014, while on a recruiting trip to Florida, Smith spent $600 of his own money at a strip club “along with another OSU football coach and one or more high school coaches.” When Meyer became aware of this, he warned Smith he’d be fired if this happened again. Meyer was aware of the visit, but not the amount spent. The NCAA will probably investigate this to see if Smith paid for anything for the high school coaches.
3. Smith was delinquent paying for his iPhone and expenses associated to bowl games.
4. He was regularly late to practice and workouts. Missed recruiting visits at high schools, despite reporting internally that he had. Meyer warned him he’d be fired if it continued. When AD Gene Smith learned of the situation, he suggested to Meyer he replace him. Meyer decided against it.
5. He had a sexual relationship and took sexually explicit photos of himself at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center (WHAC) and other locations, including the White House. Had sex related toys delivered to the WHAC. Evidence shows some within the football program were aware, but Meyer was not.
6. He was admitted to a drug treatment program, at the suggestion of Meyer, for addiction to a drug used to treat ADHD.
Meyer finally fired Smith in July after learning of a criminal protection order against him. He should have done it long before. The committee said, “his apparent blind spot for Zach Smith seems to have impaired his judgment and his management of the behavior of at least one of his assistants.” I think that’s an understatement. There are those who have said Meyer should have known all Smith was doing at places like the WHAC and White House. How? Is Meyer supposed to check his phone each day? Open mail addressed to others when it arrives at the WHAC? That happens to be, quite literally, a federal offense. But, that’s ok, when you’ve been picking and choosing which facts to report or believe, I guess you feel you can pick and choose which laws a person should follow when you’re trying to assassinate someone.
Oh, by the way, the other OSU coach at the strip club with Smith is none other than Texas head coach Tom Herman.
Meyer is talked about in the report at such length, it is nearly impossible for me to touch on all of it while keeping this blog at a reasonable length. So, I’m going to go over a couple of, what I feel, are important points.
1. In going over the events of the arrest of Zach Smith in 2009 for aggravated battery on Courtney Smith, the committee concluded, after meeting the with couple, Urban and Shelley Meyer decided Courtney was not being entirely truthful.
2. Shelley Meyer says she did not tell Urban about the texts she exchanged with Courtney Smith in the fall of 2015, because she had doubts to the validity of Smith’s claims.
3. When the report detailing Courtney Smith’s allegations broke, Meyer had a conversation with Brian Voltolini, the director of football operations, where they “specifically discussed how to adjust the settings on Meyer’s phone so that text messages older than one year would be deleted.” The committee found no messages older than one year on Meyer’s phone and could not determine if any had been deleted. They further said, “It is nonetheless concerning that his first reaction to a negative media piece exposing his knowledge of the 2015-2016 law enforcement investigation was to worry about the media getting access to information and discussing how to delete messages older than a year.”
4. Because they believed Zach Smith’s denials and there were no arrests or violations stemming from the 2015 police reports, Meyer and AD Gene Smith, “in good faith”, did not feel any further reporting was necessary. The Title IX office was already aware. The committee feels a report should have been made to the Athletic Compliance Office and, for AD Smith, Office of University Integrity and Compliance. Many they interviewed from the university felt, when there are no charges filed by law enforcement, there is no need to report anything further to the university. The committee suggested the school tighten this policy.
5. The committee said they believe Meyer when he says he would have fired Smith if he had learned of any domestic abuse.
6. “We have found no other facts giving rise to violations of policy, rules, law, or contractual obligations by Coach Meyer or AD Smith in connection with alleged domestic violence by Zach Smith.”
Having a conversation about deleting text messages looks very bad. Some think it points to a cover-up. Too many, who want to see Meyer fired, are basing their reasoning on this. I still disagree with this because how can you cover up something that is known by the police, prosecutor’s office, campus police and Title IX office? Based on language in his contract, you can make the argument Meyer should have been suspended. But, fired? No, I don’t see it.
Big Ten Media Day
For a group of people, who have intentionally misled the public by failing to report certain developments in this story, the media sure is upset about Urban Meyer “lying” to them. The committee looked at this at length.
1. The committee says Meyer went to Big Ten Media day with the intention of strongly denying the false report Zach Smith had been arrested in 2015. But, feel he went too far in denying knowledge of the 2015 allegations. They said, “As a result, he has cast doubt on his own honesty in a way that reflects adversely on him, the football program and Ohio State.” They further said they do not believe his “misstatements” were part of a deliberate cover-up.
2. The committee concluded, although Meyer may have been intentionally misleading in his answers at Big Ten Media Day, they believe he was not.
3. “Coach Meyer did not, in our view, deliberately lie.”
Urban Meyer is extremely loyal to Earle Bruce. It is obvious he’s loyal to a fault. The committee delves into this during their discussion of Media Day and feel it, along with other factors (certain medications, etc.), led to Meyer’s incorrect handling of questions.
Even when looking at language in his contract about how he is to represent Ohio State in public and private, I don’t see how this is something he can be fired over. I know there are those in the “pc police” who disagree, but I don’t see it.
Rant, Then Opinion
There are a lot of people who feel this report is incredibly damning for Meyer and he should have been fired. They use words like “disturbed” and “sickened.” My question is why? Because he didn’t believe Courtney Smith’s allegations? I’ve got news for all you who have fallen for her story hook, line, and sinker, nobody else believes her either. Or, is it because he didn’t bow down to the #MeToo “frontier justice” way of doing things? You’re “disturbed” because he talked about deleting texts? Is there proof he deleted them? No, there isn’t. But, then again, after giving Courtney Smith instant credibility, you’ve not wanted to believe anyone else. Unless, of course, that person is also on her bandwagon. By blindly backing Courtney Smith and acting incredulous about Meyer not being fired, you think it makes you look politically correct and socially conscious. I really think it boils down to, out of fear of public backlash, you’re too chickenshit to point out Smith is an ALLEGED victim because her claims are STILL unsubstantiated and, also, admit there is not anything egregious enough in the report to warrant a firing.
The people screaming this is all about winning games make me double over with laughter. The “If they had a mediocre coach, he would have been gone” crowd. To you people I say, you must know nothing about Ohio State football and its history. Hall of Fame coach Woody Hayes: fired. Hall of Fame coach Earle Bruce: fired. Hall of Fame coach John Cooper: fired. Hall of Fame coach Jim Tressel: fired. Hmmm, seems to me the university has a history of not caring how successful their football coach is, if they feel a firing is necessary. This is all about winning football games? Since Woody Hayes was hired in 1951, the Buckeyes have had exactly four losing seasons. FOUR. Based on that information I’d say it doesn’t matter who the head coach is because the Buckeyes keep winning. Ahhhhhhh, wait…maybe that’s the problem. You’re a Buckeye hater and think if Meyer is removed, they won’t win as much. 67 seasons since Woody was hired, only four losing seasons. If we really want to be accurate, it is actually four losing seasons out of the last 70. But, it’s ok, you cling to that “This is all about winning games” rhetoric like Linus Van Pelt hanging onto his beloved blanket.
After going over the report numerous times, I can see why Meyer was suspended. There is a clause in his contract which says he is to, “represent Ohio State positively in public and private forums” and to refrain from any “conduct that reflects adversely on Ohio State or its athletic programs.” I think it is obvious the conversation about deleting texts and the way Big Ten Media Day was mishandled most certainly “reflects adversely” on Ohio State. I don’t think I agree with three games, but after a lot of consideration, I do believe some sort of sanction was warranted.
At the press conference following on Wednesday night. Meyer was asked by a reporter if had had anything to say to Courtney Smith. The media was outraged when he didn’t get on his knees, break down in tears, and apologize to a woman who vowed to take him down. I would say the media and public has forgotten how two different people confirmed Courtney Smith said she’d take down Zach Smith and Urban Meyer. But, how can I say they forgot this when it was never reported by any of the national outlets? After accepting Courtney Smith’s allegations as the gospel truth, they completely ignored Lynn Bruce’s, Zach’s mother, and Tina Carano’s, Courtney’s mother, claims in Jeff Snook’s article just over a week after Courtney’s allegations were published. Carano, also, said her daughter is not being truthful about what happened. But, in the eyes of the media and misinformed public, Urban Meyer is supposed to apologize to a woman, who vowed to take him down and has been branded a liar by her own mother, for something that has never been substantiated.
On Friday, unfortunately, Meyer apologized to her. I’m not going to get into what he said because I could care less. She doesn’t deserve what he gave her. Of course, the media has piled on him again saying how insincere his gesture was. Shocker, right? The best may have been Brett McMurphy’s claims that Meyer’s apology proves her allegations. Nice reach Brett, but I don’t think so.
I See What You’re Really About
In the near month since Brett McMurphy published the claims of Courtney Smith, we’ve seen a parade of advocates for domestic violence survivors paraded in front of cameras and microphones to bash Urban Meyer. They all have referred to her as “the victim” regardless of the fact not one person has corroborated her story. So, since the #MeToo movement has shown they are willing to accept allegations with no proof or hearing the other side of the story, you’d think when an actual domestic abuse survivor speaks up, they’d be more than happy to listen and lend their support. Well, sure, as long as it goes along with the “Fire Urban Meyer” narrative. If it doesn’t, all of those who claim they want “justice” for Courtney Smith will attack.
Kristina Miller is the mother of Ohio State commit Harry Miller and a domestic abuse survivor. She shared her story with Letterman Row in an article posted Saturday. Her account of what she went through is chilling. She supports Urban Meyer and does so with strong words about him and the way the story was handled by the media and public. Not surprisingly, she was attacked on social media and the major sports websites have ignored her endorsement of Ohio State’s head coach. I always try to keep my blog fairly short, but I think it is important to share her entire statement.
Someone on social media called her a “horrible person.” Others have attacked her as well. Am I really surprised? No, not really. So, I see what you’re all about now. All of you screaming for “justice” for Courtney Smith, I see right through you. You could care less about what happens to her. You could care less what happens to ACTUAL victims of domestic abuse. You could care less because all you’re really concerned with is seeing Urban Meyer fired and Ohio State shamed. To bash a woman with a story like Kristina Miller tells me all I need to know about your motives.
Most of the sports media outlets are guilty of mercilessly attacking Urban Meyer while picking and choosing what information to feed the public. But, none more so than ESPN. They have been ruthless and slayed Meyer any way they could. They sided with the #MeToo movement and intentionally withheld important developments in the story. By doing so, they have molded public opinion without providing all of the facts. In his article published Friday, Ian O’Connor referred to the investigation as a “sham”. On “Outside the Lines” Bob Ley called Ohio State’s response “feckless and tone-deaf.” Ya know, that’s some pretty strong language from a network who has had more than their share of sexual harassment allegations leveled against them.
A December 14th, 2017 article by Boston Globe writer Jenn Abelson details multiple cases of sexual harassment claims made by female employees at ESPN. Perhaps the most outspoken was Adrienne Lawrence, who claimed longtime SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross sent her shirtless pictures. When rumors began of a relationship between them, Lawrence complained to management. She said one supervisor told her to drop the issue. The article says, “ESPN said it conducted a ‘thorough investigation’ and found Lawrence’s claims to be ‘entirely without merit.’” I’d say the people at ESPN know the words “sham” and feckless” quite well. Another they should know quite well is “hypocrite”, because that is exactly what the “four-letter network” is.
My New Hero
Jason Whitlock is a longtime sports journalist currently appearing on the Fox Sports show “Speak for Yourself”. He’s been embroiled in more than his share of controversy, but he’s now my new hero because he was not afraid to speak his mind and go against popular opinion on Meyer’s suspension during Thursday’s “Speak for Yourself.”
He called Meyer’s suspension “significant” and feels Ohio State really punished him. After his show partners gave their bash Urban takes, Whitlock said, “Ohio State’s actions scream to me that they have information that makes them believe Urban Meyer is not the bad guy, but they don’t trust the media to put out the information.” Maybe I’m off base here, but I’m guessing he is referring to the credibility of Courtney Smith. Then, he really let loose on the media, “..the media is not interested in the truth. The media is not interested in context. The media is interested in hanging people.” He continued, “Context and the full story is irrelevant. It’s ‘who can we hang.’” I love Jason Whitlock for speaking up, I really do. He’s someone who knows firsthand what it’s like to be hung by the media. As he says in the video, he’ll take criticism for his opinion, but it needed to be said by a well-known media member. It's around the 3:30 mark when he really gets going.
I plan on wearing my Buckeye shirts and hats, and will continue to be a fan. I suggest you do the same. Wear your shirts. Wear your hats. Hang an OSU flag in front of your house. There will be people who will make snide remarks, but those are the same haters we put up with each season. I am a Buckeye and I will continue to be a Buckeye until I see LEGITIMATE reasons to stop. Courtney Smith, the media, and a misinformed public haven’t come anywhere close to doing that.
Like every other controversy in the sports world, it will pass and the lynch mob will move on. If the “resurgence” of Penn State can be called a “feel good” story and magazine stories can tell us what a great guy Nick Saban is, most in the media will soften on this as well.
It’s game week and I’m so excited to actually get to write about our favorite college football team getting ready to play Oregon State. “The most wonderful time of the year” is almost here.