What did Urban Meyer know, and when? Some Buckeyes fans don’t want the details
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Crass, oafish stupidity was on display in Columbus, Ohio, earlier this week. Or maybe you can think of better words to describe the male fan who stood outside Ohio State’s football stadium and, at a rally in support of the Buckeyes’ embattled head coach, held a sign that co-opted the slogan of a vital women’s movement:
“Me Too! I support Urban Meyer & the Bucks.”
Meyer is on paid administrative leave as the school investigates his conduct in the aftermaths of domestic incidents involving former assistant coach Zach Smith and his ex-wife, Courtney.
What did Meyer know, and when? Did he prioritize the sanctity of his national-championship-contending program above the physical safety of a member of the so-called Buckeyes family? Did he do enough to keep his superiors informed (as he says he did) or fail even to pass the buck adequately (as evidence presented by former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy suggests he did)?
More stupidity from the aforementioned rally:
“ESPN = fake news.”
“ESPN guilty of abuse!”
Did we mention that McMurphy no longer works for ESPN?
Some fans have neither time for, nor interest in, letting an investigation play out. Facts are for losers. The season opener is barely three weeks away, and they want their $6.4 million-a-year coach back on the job, like, yesterday.
Forget that Ohio State happens to be dealing with a separate scandal involving the alleged sexual abuse of former members of the wrestling team by former university doctor Richard Strauss, who killed himself in 2005. Forget the grand-scale sexual scandals in recent years at fellow Big Ten schools Penn State and Michigan State. Forget the supposed crackdown across sports against domestic violence. Where’s the relevance in any of that?
This is no time for oversensitivity, some apparently believe. Count Stacy Elliott among them. Elliott — the father of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, an OSU alum, who was suspended last season for domestic violence — attended the pro-Meyer rally and had this to say to local reporters:
“[Meyer] handled the situation the way his job required him to. It’s wrong that he’s not with the boys on the field right now.”
Not that it’s easy to throw stones from Chicago. This is where the Bears gave Ray McDonald a shot. This is where the Cubs rolled out the red carpet for Aroldis Chapman.
So, how will Meyer’s case ultimately be resolved? A Sun-Times Twitter poll posed that question, and a majority of respondents believe he’ll be on the sideline this season as the Buckeyes chase another Big Ten championship and national title.
“If Urban followed protocol, then he has done what Ohio State, after careful reflection, set forth as policy,” wrote @momobrewer. “Urban doesn’t condone domestic violence. Matter of fact, Urban condemns domestic violence.”
Most who commented weren’t as generous to the coach. They weren’t big believers in OSU, either. A sampling:
“It’s pretty clear OSU knew about the issue and chose to ignore it,” wrote @esilvas. “They will not sacrifice wins.”
From @jjhparker: “Should he be the coach? Probably not. But OSU isn’t firing Urban for anything less than him literally being present during the abuse and directing it as it occurred.”
And from @mikebeverly4: “The leaders are gutless and will keep him in the name of winning, just like [Michigan State] did with its football and basketball coaches.”
A humble prediction from a know-it-all columnist: Meyer and OSU will part ways before the end of August.
Who can tell, though? Many of us would’ve bet our last nickel against former Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel losing his job. The scandal that led to Tressel’s resignation in 2011 was ticky-tack compared to this one; essentially, it involved players exchanging memorabilia for “free” tattoos. But Tressel was found to have known about the illicit arrangement and to have participated in covering it up.
And so, the most beloved Buckeyes coach since Woody Hayes left the building. Hayes, too, of course, was jettisoned in his own scandal — the punching of an opposing player during a game in 1978.
For what it’s worth, both the colorful Hayes and the fatherly Tressel were nearer and dearer to Buckeye Nation’s collective heart than Meyer is. Meyer is regarded with a certain dispassion, as though his standard of excellence on the field is so high and so all-important, it is not to be messed with.
Indeed, it hangs in the balance now. As it should.