I have a lot of readers and commenters of the blog who are members of the legal profession, so it’s no surprise to see several comments here reminding folks that Zach Smith has not been found guilty of a crime in a court of law. It’s a fair point, as far as it goes, but I think my fellow barmates need to keep their eyes on the prize.
What’s important here isn’t Smith being a criminal in an official sense. It’s that Urban Meyer is full of shit.
With all the domestic violence issues currently happening in the NFL, Meyer was asked about he handles those topics with his team and whether he uses them as examples of what to avoid.
“Every day, every day,” Meyer said. “They know it, they see it. How do you not see it? They are all teachable moments, and if you don’t use that … I think everybody in the country used that.”
As far as his policy with domestic violence with his team, Meyer reaffirmed that it’s zero tolerance.
“Oh yeah,” Meyer said. “We had a couple issues that we had to evaluate, but that’s one of the core values.”
So how do you run that highfalutin standard up against this?
• Zach Smith was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass in May. Courtney was granted a protection order against him July 20, alleging she had been intimidated and harassed by him. The trespass charge came after Zach Smith allegedly dropped one of the couple’s children at Courtney’s residence instead of a public place.
• Monday morning, longtime college football reporter Brett McMurphy reported that Courtney accused Zach of domestic violence in 2009 while Zach was a graduate assistant on Meyer’s staff at Florida and Courtney was two months pregnant. No charges were filed.
• Monday afternoon, McMurphy reported that Courtney had accused Zach of domestic violence again in 2015 and the coach had been investigated for felony domestic violence and felony assault. No charges have been filed.
Easy. You pretend none of it ever happened.
After leaving the podium, Meyer was asked to clarify his comments on Smith’s firing, and he said of the 2009 incident (via elevenwarriors.com), “We found out what happened according to both parties, we met with them. There were no charges. Everything was dropped. It was a very young couple and I saw a very talented young coach and we moved forward.”
On whether he had any regrets about how he and the school handled the dismissal of Smith, who was hired by Meyer when he arrived at Ohio State in 2012, the coach said, “No. We handled it the right way. I’ve been down that road — ‘Why didn’t you do this,’ or ‘Why didn’t you do that?’ — and it’s a very personal matter.
“Domestic issues are a lot of he said, she said. We care about people as they move forward.”
Of the reports on another incident in 2015, Meyer told reporters he’d received “a text late last night” that “something happened” involving Smith that year, but he claimed “there was nothing.” Meyer added, “Once again, there’s nothing — once again, I don’t know who creates a story like that.”
McMurphy had cited a Powell (Ohio) Police Department arrest report from Oct. 26, 2015, in which Courtney Smith was said to have been “a victim of sustained physical abuse” by her then-husband. Officers returned to their home two weeks later to investigate a “menace-by-stalking claim,” but charges were not filed in either case.
In his clarifying comments Tuesday, Meyer said of the 2015 allegations, “I can’t say it didn’t happen because I wasn’t there…”
That works until it all comes out in the public eye.
Asked if he fired Smith on Monday “because any of this became public” or “because there was another incident that led to the latest protective order on Friday,” Meyer said he wouldn’t “get into that,” as it was “a very personal matter.” The 54-year-old coach, who took over the Buckeyes’ program before the 2012 season and led it to a national title in 2014, added that “we are in a public world” and “to say that doesn’t have something to do with it, it does a little bit.”
“I try to stay focused on what’s the most important thing. That’s our players and our team. But I do understand the value,” Meyer said. “It’s the Ohio State University is bigger than all of us. So you have to do what’s right by them. And the timing. It wasn’t just my decision. It was a group effort on several people that I rely on.”
The reality is that Smith isn’t out of a coaching job because of something he did or didn’t do. He’s out of a job because his history — and, more importantly, Urban Meyer’s failure to act despite claiming to enforce a zero tolerance policy — became a public embarrassment for Urban Meyer. All the gobbledygook in the world trying to spin the dismissal as something noble on Meyer’s part won’t change that.
“And then this recent one was you press pause, it’s something our team lives by, E + R = O, you press pause and get your mind right and step up, press pause and gather information, get your mind right, gather energy, and then step up to do the right thing. That’s the position I hold. That’s how we did that.”
Meyer is a better coach than human being. Not that that’s saying much, but I sure hope he keeps getting called out on his sanctimony.