On New Years Day, Big Ten Champions Ohio State held on to beat the Pac-12 Champions Washington after a late surge by the Huskies, 28-23. The game was notable as it was the final game for Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, who had announced his intention to retire following the season after the Buckeyes win in the Big Ten Championship Game. Meyer cited his health issues as the primary reason for his retirement.
However, context is everything in this story as their is far more to it than just health issues. Meyer found himself embroiled in a scandal prior to the start of the season that involved former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith and his repeated physical abuse of his now-ex wife, Courtney Smith. Zach Smith was fired on July 23rd and the next day, Urban Meyer spoke of the incident at Big Ten Media Days.
His comments on the situation only fueled the media firestorm and Ohio State opened up and investigation, led by an independent third-party committee. Following the investigation, it was left to the Board of Trustees to decide the fate of Meyer and Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith. The Board showed that they cared more about winning rather than what’s right and only suspended Meyer for the first 3 games of 2018 along with Gene Smith.
The investigation lingered the entire season for the Buckeyes, which was seen as a big reason for how largely unimpressive they were for most of the season. But the Buckeyes managed to regroup and win the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl in a great sendoff for Urban Meyer, Meyer was scrutinized for a comment after the game by Sports Illustrated columnist Joan Niesen.
Urban Meyer referred to Zach Smith’s legal issues and his own lies to protect his assistant as “the stuff in the summer.”
I can’t wait to no longer have to listen to him talk–and to broadcasters talking circles around his particular brand of hypocrisy.
— Joan Niesen (@JoanNiesen) January 2, 2019
Niesen was furious at Urban Meyer referring to the Zach Smith case as “the stuff in the summer” and she absolutely should be. Throughout the entire investigation, Meyer repeatedly showed little to no respect to the estranged family of Zach Smith, not even apologizing to Courtney Smith in the press conference following the announcement of his suspension (He would apologize the next day, but the damage had been done).
After all that is happened, I am a firm believer that Urban Meyer should never coach another down in college football again, whether he changes his mind (and he will) or not. Meyer not only had issues at Ohio State, but at other stops as well, most notably during his tenure as head coach of the Florida Gators from 2005 to 2010.
During his tenure as head coach in Gainsville, Meyer had a total of 31 different players arrested for various crimes, by far and away the highest number for any program in FBS college football during that time period. Perhaps the most notable crime wasn’t brought forward until years later, when it was alleged that former tight end Aaron Hernandez had incited a bar fight in 2007 and was allegedly involved in double shooting later that year, although it was never proven as Hernandez committed suicide in 2017.
Meyer also received scrutiny for how he left Florida after a medical scare and had planned to resign following the 2009 season, but stayed on for 2010 and retired following the 2010 season citing his health and his family. Meyer worked as an analyst for a year for ESPN, but returned to the sidelines with Ohio State in 2012, much to to the ire of many across the country, especially in Gainsville, Florida.
Meyer’s shady background is more than enough for any athletic director across the country to refute even interviewing him for a candidacy, let alone hire him for an actual head coaching job. Meyer’s shady persona and refusal to take action when needed spits in the face of those coaches who have zero-tolerance policy for anything similar to that.
Perhaps what is more disturbing than that is the undying fan support Meyer received throughout the entire Zach Smith scandal. Take one look at the reply’s to Joan Niesen’s tweet above and to the normal person, you will question how in the world people can think so backwards about a very serious situation. I would expect the same thing for writing this, however, there’s a good chance this won’t get the same attention as a national sportswriter’s.
Urban Meyer has retired from coaching, but he will try to comeback, and when he does, he should be blackballed by every Division I FBS school. He has been shown to be a slimy, immoral figure, but unfortunately, someone will not care enough about their moral compass and will care more about winning and will hire Urban Meyer.