Recent allegations surrounding alleged negligence by Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is scorching the airwaves, and rightfully so.
On Tuesday, it was announced that he allegedly had prior knowledge of former assistant coach Zach Smith abusing his wife while on staff. Smith has since been fired, but the problem, as revealed in a text between the victim Courtney Smith and Meyer’s wife Shelley that was broken by veteran reporter Brett McMurphy, is that the wording explicitly states the Ohio State head coach would be notified of the transgressions of someone on his staff.
Whether or not Meyer knew is still speculatory, but it looks as if he lied repeatedly during Big Ten Media Day at first glance.
“I can’t say it didn’t happen because I wasn’t there,” Meyer told reporters during an interview session in Chicago. “I was never told about anything, anything never came to light, never had a conversation about it, so I know nothing about that.”
Terry Crews once said that abusers protect abusers. While there have never been any reported instances of Meyer abusing anyone, he does have a very long track record of defending football players accused of committing heinous acts that go beyond the realm of simply being “Boys being boys”.
With three weeks left in the regular season, it’s now time to separate the cream from the crop in what promises to be a fantastic race to the playoffs. The Campus Read Option was on location this past weekend at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown for the match-up between West Virginia and Texas.
We need only go back to his time as head coach for the University of Florida for examples. Meyer coached the Gators football team from 2005 to 2010.
31 players were arrested under his tenure. Former lineman Ronnie Wilson is alleged to have punch and spat on a man before grabbing an AK-47 and firing outside of a nightclub in 2007, safety Tony Joiner was charged with breaking into an impound lot to retrieve his girlfriend’s stolen car, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham was arrested after fighting an employee at Jimmy John’s, Janoris Jenkins was accused of resisting arrest, safety Jamar Hornsby was accused of property damage and criminal mischief, then of heading up a scam ring that resulted in 70 fraudulent charges on a credit card that belonged to a deceased woman the following year, and running back Chris Rainey accused of sending a text to a former girlfriend that read, in part, “time to die”.
Lest we forget about the tragic callousness and malice displayed by former Gators and New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was found guilty of killing Odin Lloyd, was charged with two previous murders and implicated in the shootings of three other people in two separate incidents dating back to his college days at the University of Florida.
On the one hand, it doesn’t seem entirely fair to suggest that Meyer had anything to do with the specific actions of individuals players, but there’s something to be said for cultivating an environment of unaccountability at a time when young male adults need a stern hand to guide them amid all the chaos and commotion.
College football is a cutthroat business, particularly in recruiting. Teams and coaches will use whatever weaknesses they can to their advantage, whether they are real or perceived. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin explained part of this phenomenon when comparing his first and second year in the SEC.
But Meyer is on record as someone who shirked that notion to the media while still adorned in orange and blue.
Relating or blaming these serious charges to the University of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible, Meyer told Colombus Dispatch sportswriter Tim May in 2013. Our staff, myself and our families worked very hard to mentor and guide him, he said of Hernandez.
Though we all loved Tim Tebow, with the exception of Florida State and University of Miami fans, his notoriety only seemed to mask the tumultuous backdrop in which many of his former teammates operated. Meyer’s close relationship with Tebow was the centerpiece for many “feel good’ pieces by some of the nation’s most esteemed sports writers. It’s no doubt that Tim Tebow’s ascension, and his apparent closeness with Meyer, was used as a marketing tool for recruiting.
Urban Meyer has been dodging culpability for the actions of his players for a very long time. If these allegations are true, and there’s really little wiggle room to misconstrue the text in question, then Meyer’s entire legacy as a leader of young men should be called into account as well.
Many college football coaches successfully keep tabs on the actions and whereabouts of each player or coach associated with their team.
Now, with all the history of criminal behavior that has occurred under Urban Meyer’s watch in the past, we’re supposed to just take his word when he says he wasn’t aware that his assistant coach was a serial abuser for years?