Piling on. Fifteen-yard penalty.
That’s my reaction to the idea that Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer somehow contributed to a mindset that would allow Aaron Hernandez to participate in a murder.
Some national columnists and commentators have tried to make that charge stick to Meyer in the last week or two.
He should have done something. He should have been tougher on Hernandez when he coached him at the University of Florida. And who hasn’t been reminded there were 31 players arrested during Meyer’s six seasons as Florida’s coach?
What you’re looking at could be a perfect storm of trying to drive media traffic.
A prominent player on a high profile NFL team allegedly commits a heinous crime, then is investigated for other violent crimes, dating back to his college days in a program that produced two national champions in six years.
His former coach is one of the biggest names in college football who is now coaching at one of the most famous football schools in the country. He has had uninterrupted success as a coach, but there also has been some drama along the way.
That will get people’s attention. That will get you to stop as you channel surf.
If a former player from Meyer’s teams at Bowling Green had gotten into trouble, I doubt it would be quite as big a story.
Somehow, I don’t remember the coach of a former Mid-American Conference basketball star who murdered his wife a few years ago being called out for not imparting better lessons to the player.
Or when another former MAC hoops standout from the 1970s allegedly decided to hang out with murderous Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, I don’t recall his coach being criticized for not doing a better job of teaching him genocide was wrong.
Meyer can take care of himself. He can point to examples of trying to prepare players for life beyond football and of working with troubled players throughout his career.
Realistically, though, every coach in a big-time college athletic program probably has a number of risky players he will take a chance on.
He has a number in mind of players with question marks in their backgrounds that he will recruit. And he has a number of chances a player who messes up will get before he is sent packing.
That’s no surprise. That’s just the way life is in the win-or-else atmosphere at the top in college athletics.
One of the many times receiver Ray Small was in trouble during his Ohio State football career, then-OSU coach Jim Tressel was asked if Small had worked his way out of his dog house yet.
“I’ve got a pretty big dog house,” Tressel said.
Tressel went on to say discipline and the decision whether to dismiss a player from the team were usually handled on a case-by-case basis except when there were team, departmental or institutional policies.
Another time when Tressel was asked how many shots Small had been given, he said, “More than LeBron takes.”
Ultimately, Small’s Ohio State career ended with him being left home from the Buckeyes’ 2010 Rose Bowl Trip. On Friday, Small’s latest and largest transgression — a second arrest for drug dealing — was all over the news.
But Small wasn’t Tressel’s fault and Hernandez wasn’t Meyer’s.
We assign too much power and too much influence to coaches if we expect them to have a 100 percent success rate at overcoming a lifetime of bad influences, bad decisions and all the people whispering in an athlete’s ear that he’s the greatest.