Your eyes don't deceive you. Despite ALL the warning signs. ALL the prototypes and examples of how not to handle scandal in college sports, we're writing this story yet again.
You've read this exact copy, a play to the outrage machine brewing on social media suggesting that this cannot, will not happen again. We must not allow it.
Winning is more important than humanity in college sports. Hell, all sports. But, let's save that for another conversation. Urban Meyer is your latest culprit, and you shouldn't be surprised.
The bottom line for both Urban Meyer and Gene Smith is they both gave Zach Smith two more contracts and two raises after learning of the 2015 allegations.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) August 3, 2018
Zach Smith, an 'alleged' domestic abuser, was given repeated chances as a lead assistant on Meyer's staff despite his recurring criminal activity. Assistant coaches are fired in college sports for a litany of dumb, inexplicable reasons, from a disagreement with a player to 'we didn't score enough points in our bowl game'.
But, reportedly striking a woman on *at least* two occasions is deemed just fine, because winning and financial gain underscore human decency in sports.
Meyer's been caught red-handed, but instead of steering into the skid, or admitting blame, or even deflecting, Urban's motive is clear: show me the money.
Urban Meyer's statement seems written with contract law in mind. It denies any grounds that Ohio State could use to fire him with cause. At the same time, it acknowledges his answers to journalists' questions were inadequate--a personal failing that doesn't violate his contract. https://t.co/reaiRXw9yE— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) August 3, 2018
And frankly, Meyer has no reason to fear an independent investigation. There is no standard for the Buckeyes coach to be held to. Hell, the amount of institutional insubordination under Meyer at Florida was unheard of. His reward? Multiple national titles, a year off, and a raise to take the reigns at another college football powerhouse.
College football is the wild west, and Meyer is John Wayne. Did you really think for one second he would resign? Meyer's dirty game is predictable to those who know him best. In a coordinated effort with said domestic abuser, Urban has successfully thrown his athletic director under the bus, and will likely continue fighting to clear his name.
Meanwhile, media companies take the bait. Enter, ESPN.
To the surprise of no one, Smith lied on national television and on the radio to an audience that fell for every word. Meyer's former assistant claimed he never abused his now ex-wife, portraying himself as a protagonist in the process.
Thankfully, we have direct evidence to the contrary. This man is a scum bag, but his testimony will provide Meyer with the ammo he needs to likely keep his title, and at the very least not come out of this empty handed.
Zach Smith told @1057TheZone he never abused Courtney. Here is text message b/w Zach & Courtney when he admits & apologizes for strangling his wife on Punta Cana trip in March 2015 & again in April pic.twitter.com/GjcjWh6mFT— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 3, 2018
Meyer's defense is essentially the same as every enabler before him--I reported the events to my superior. In sports circles, it's known as the Paterno. Despite Joe Pa's fate, it works more times than not, especially when backed by free PR.
In a perfect world, Smith would not be trusted or given the light of day to deny an activity that he so clearly engaged in. Human trash bin or not, Smith's ability to turn this into 'he said, she said', and muddle Meyer's involvement, will play huge with Ohio State supporters and those in power in Columbus. College towns are, at their core, cults in waiting.
To be fair, the facts are tough to distinguish on Meyer's end. However, what we do know is simple: Meyer knowingly employed a likely domestic abuser for nearly a decade. In a town in which he'll always be offered a free drink, claiming his hands were tied is a blatant insult to our intelligence.
But, as we well know, this won't be the last time you read this column.