Doing something stupid was not on my list of how I thought Urban Meyer’s time at Ohio State would end.
But it might end that way if he knew about repeated allegations of domestic abuse against receivers coach Zach Smith but kept him on his staff anyway, then was not truthful about what he knew and when he learned about it.
What did he know and when did he know it are the big questions. How they are answered could determine if Meyer stays at Ohio State, is asked to leave, or draws a reprimand, such as a suspension for part of the upcoming season.
The question that invites more curiosity is if he did know, why did he say he didn’t and why did he wait until it was unavoidable before firing Smith.
Meyer, whose teams are 73-8 in six seasons at Ohio State, was put on paid administrative leave Wednesday afternoon and will remain on leave while OSU conducts an investigation. Quarterbacks coach Ryan Day will be temporary head coach of the Buckeyes, who begin fall training camp on Friday.
If Meyer knew about the allegations and stood up at the Big Ten Media Days last week in front of hundreds of reporters and a national television audience and denied knowledge of them, that was not not smart.
If Meyer gave Smith the benefit of several extra doubts that he didn’t deserve because he was the grandson of his coaching mentor, Earle Bruce, that was not smart, either.
And if he was aware of text messages reportedly sent from Zach Smith’s ex-wife Courtney to his wife Shelley and to the wife of one of his close advisers in 2015 and those texts are legitimate and he did nothing, that was not smart.
Will all these things that look bad for Meyer be proved? Would they be enough to cost him his job? Are there facts still to be revealed?
We’ll find out at the end of the investigation, which Ohio State said will be handled “expeditiously” when it was announced late Wednesday afternoon.
Courtney Smith says domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-husband began in 2009 around the time of their first wedding anniversary when Zach Smith was a graduate assistant on Meyer’s staff at the University of Florida.
The police were called after that incident. But after being talking with several people, including her family, Smith’s family and an attorney who is a close friend of Meyer’s, she did not press charges.
At the Big Ten Football Media Days last week Meyer said he knew about the 2009 incident but disputed the accuracy of media reports about it. Then he said he did not know anything about any similar incidents in 2015.
“I got a text late last night something happened in 2015. And there was nothing. Once again, there was nothing. I don’t know who creates a story like that,” he said.
Some people say major college football coaches live inside a cocoon, a bubble or even a submarine. during the season.
Meyer’s future at Ohio State might depend on convincing the university he lives inside a cone of silence, an idea that would certainly elicit a fair amount of skepticism, considering his attention to detail.
As long as there is no text or email trail, as long as all that can be said is that he could have or should have known about the 2015 abuse allegations, he probably can stay at Ohio State. If there is a trail, he has a problem.