Ohio State has put Urban Meyer on paid administrative leave while it investigates a report that Meyer was aware of a domestic violence incident in 2015 perpetrated by one of his assistant coaches. I am not going to rehash the events and the allegations here; you would be hard-pressed to go to any national sports website this morning and avoid reading those details. Here is a link to one of many such summaries of the background here.
What we have here is another situation where several conflicting narratives apply at the same time:
- Urban Meyer is innocent of any criminal action until he is found guilty of that action in a courtroom.
- In the court of public opinion, however, things are not looking good for Urban Meyer as of this morning.
- Nowhere in any of the reporting have I found a hint that Urban Meyer committed any acts of domestic violence. Nonetheless, it is clear that such acts did occur and that leads to an inquiry that harkens back to the Senate Watergate hearings in the early 70s.
- What did Urban Meyer know and when did he know it? PLUS, if and when he knew what he knew, what did he do about it?
Ohio State University is in a delicate situation today. These allegations come on the heels of allegations of sexual abuse within the wrestling program in the past and some of that muck and mire has spilled over to current Congressman James Jordan (R-Ohio) who was an assistant coach at Ohio State while some of that stuff was ongoing. Let me be blunt here:
- That was wrestling; this is football.
Wrestling may be important at Ohio State, but the reality is that wrestling is not football. And Urban Meyer has 3 national championships to his credit; and national championships are a big deal to Ohio State alums, boosters and students. No matter what Ohio State does to and with Urban Meyer, the university is going to piss off a large and vocal chorus of people.
Complicating the situation for the Ohio State pooh-bahs is a precedent at Ohio State in their football program.
- In 2011, a bunch of Ohio State players received “improper benefits” in the form of discounted tattoos from a local tattoo artist. Ohio State suspended Coach Jim Tressel for 2 games and then upped that ante to 5 games after an investigation and fined Tressel $250K. Then, Coach Tressel “decided to resign” as the head football coach at Ohio State.
On one hand, it is easy to look at those two situations and say that “domestic violence” is a whole lot more serious than “discounted or free tattoos”. So, on that axis, the “firing” of Jim Tressel makes the retention of Urban Meyer nigh onto impossible.
On the other hand, the “tattoo incident” could have led the NCAA to impose severe sanctions to the Ohio State football program. In the current matter, the NCAA will likely stand on the sidelines and cluck about how all of us are socially responsible for out actions and pabulum of that ilk. [Aside: I presume that the NCAA learned from the Penn State incident that its purview is athletics and not criminal behavior(s). If they did not learn from their embarrassment there, the NCAA might punch this tar baby too. We shall see…]
Because I do not yet know what Urban Meyer knew and when he knew it and what he did about it when/if he knew what he knew, I will postpone saying what I think Ohio State ought to do here. I suspect, however, that this is the end of the Urban Meyer regime in Columbus. In the current environment of #meetoo and the light being shone on domestic violence by people in football and the parallelism here to the mess at Baylor under Art Briles, I do not see how Ohio State can keep him on the payroll.
Some commentators have already jumped to the conclusion that Urban Meyer’s career as a coach is over. I am not ready to do that just yet and I will cite the case of Dave Bliss as a reason not to make such a leap of logic. Here is what I wrote about Dave Bliss and his outrageous behavior(s) back in 2003; please take a minute to skim through it.
Now that you are back here, Dave Bliss was hired subsequently as a college basketball coach and then again twice as a high school basketball coach at two Christian high schools. And that is why I am reluctant at this point to say that Urban Meyer will not be a football coach ever again.
Enough about that… Yesterday I wrote about the naming rights for the Bonita Springs HS football stadium and I mentioned that a reader here lived in Bonita Springs. Here is what he added to the story regarding why a healthcare provider might be willing to pay to name a football stadium.
“Big-time competition between Lee Health and Naples-based NCH (healthcare system) these days. The two systems are opening free-standing ER’s less than a mile apart in Bonita Springs and NCH is opposing the state’s recent approval of a new 82-bed acute care hospital that Lee proposes to build in South Lee County. Lee obviously wants to stay front and center in residents’ minds.
“The new Bonita Springs High School is probably about 4 miles from our house. Lee’s freestanding ER and proposed new hospital are about 3 miles from our house, so all these developments are very close to home.”
Finally, here is a comment by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times regarding a college football coach preparing for the upcoming season:
“Hawaii football coach Nick Rolovich brought a Britney Spears impersonator to Mountain West media day.
“And if the Rainbow Warriors repeat last year’s 3-9 performance, we assume, they’ll bring her back to sing ‘Oops I Did It Again’.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………