The Urban Meyer PR Tour Does Not Absolve The Ohio State Coach


Urban Meyer, his suspension served, has returned to active duty. His first public act as reinstated coach at Ohio State was to hold an hour-long news conference Monday in Columbus. During this deserved inquisition, this piece of advice seemed apt:

When you find yourself in a hole, put down the shovel. Meyer, though, kept digging.

His continuing explanation excavations are turning the school into The Ohio Statement University. Before his news conference, he issued another clarification statement; Meyer has made more statements than he has national championship rings. And this much is clear – statements to followed by statement after statement indicates a lack of message clarity.

Meyer’s podium time is one of the few correct decisions made by the school’s administration during this dumpster fire. No questions were censured. Most involved the cesspool mess involving former assistant coach Zach Smith and his alleged domestic violence toward his ex-wife Courtney. How Meyer clumsily handled and falsely explained the Smiths’ toxic marriage is what earned the Buckeyes’ coach a three-week suspension.

Under interim coach Ryan Day, Ohio State went 3-0 including Saturday night’s victory over TCU at AT&T Stadium. There wasn’t a football question asked until a reporter followed up a question about the credibility of Mr. and Mrs. Smith by asking “How much better can this offense get?”

In reporter parlance, that’s known as a “rally killer” (thankfully, it was near the end of the agony.)

Earlier Monday, the second part of Meyer’s 30-minute one-on-one with Tom Rinaldi aired on ESPN. Meyer artfully answered (read: dodged) Rinaldi’s questions.

For a total of 90 minutes, live and on tape, Meyer believed he was putting the issue to bed by standing up to the questions like the student who stared down the tank in Tiananmen Square. (Guess who Your Veteran Scribe thinks showed more bravery.)

As with the majority of Meyer’s thoughts and comments, he’s wrong if he thinks this game is over. This is the third time in the last six weeks that Meyer has been the subject of this author. The hunch is it won’t be the last. There are lots of loose ends dangling and reporters like Brett McMurphy are hard at work reporting. If – and it’s a big if – there are more sordid details to come, then Meyer will face more questions that have nothing to do with the Buckeyes making a run at the national championship.

Perhaps the most obvious and glaring takeaway is that Urban Meyer didn’t spend his three-week sabbatical educating himself about domestic violence. His answers indicated he regards one of the worst scourges in our society as inconvenience similar to moving practice indoors because of bad weather.

“I feel like he needed to see (Courtney Smith) with a fat lip and two black eyes to believe her,” Brenda Tracy, a leading activist working to prevent on-campus sexual violence, told The Athletic. “He’s not even trying to learn about the dynamics of domestic violence. I see no growth in him from this. He feels put out. He thinks he is the victim.”

In terms of pure theater, watching Urban Meyer pile lie upon lie to cover up previous lies is worthy of a giant tub of popcorn. Finding holes in his story’s tangled web is as easy as dotting the “i” in Script Ohio. For instance:

Point: There’s major doubt that Meyer has ever believed Courtney Smith’s side of the story, has perhaps never even spoken to her. He was asked if he believed she has ever been a victim of domestic violence. “I can only rely on what information I received from experts,” Meyer said.

Counter point: Did Meyer ever consult with any domestic violence experts? If so, why doesn’t he say that? Also, regarding police reports involving the Smiths’ volatile relationship, Meyer has repeatedly said he relied on those reports.

Point: Meyer continues to explain that his lies at Big Ten media day were “misstatements.” (Ohio State’s official report after Meyer’s suspension let the coach off the hook by saying he didn’t intentionally lie. Amazing, isn’t it, for a man in a position where accountability is preached and cherished to run and hide from his lies by claiming he didn’t intend to lie.

Counter point: Coach, why did you go for it on that fourth down play that came up short? I didn’t mean for the play to not work. It was unintentional on my part that I called a play that failed.

Point: Meyer has continuously and conveniently thrown his wife Shelley under the bus. A medical professional employed by the state of Ohio, Shelley Meyer in 2015 received pictures of Courtney Smith’s injuries and they exchanged texts. Meyer, though, claims his wife never shared the information or her concerns about Zach Smith.

Counter point: In 2009, while at Florida, the Smiths allegedly suffered their first domestic violence incident. Meyer has said he and his wife tried to counsel the young couple. So, now, in 2018, Meyer expects us to believe that after trying to help the Smiths in 2009, when another alleged DV incident occurred, his wife never mentioned it.

Point: The issue of stored text messages and Meyer’s phone remains murky. The day after McMurphy’s story about Courtney Smith’s texts to Shelley Meyer, Urban Meyer asked a staffer about deleting old texts from his phone. If there was any evidence on Meyer’s phone that was destroyed, he could have committed a crime. Ohio State’s report indicated Meyer had a “consciousness of guilt” about the texts. Meyer told Rinaldi, “All due respect to the report, there was no consciousness of guilt about what was on my phone. None.”

Counter point: During his news conference, Meyer explained that a staffer reset his phone’s memory because he had so many texts and saved photos that it was locking up. First, that’s different from the original story. Second, if the school really wants to find out, there are forensic experts who can investigate and find deleted Tweets. Ask anyone who has posted a stupid Tweet – it lives, somewhere, forever.

Second counter point: The first reaction is that if Urban Meyer sends so many texts his phone malfunctions, he doesn’t have time to coach. Meyer, though, again tried to shift any blame by explaining that “several people” have access to his phone. That makes sense regarding who is doing the texting. But how dangerous/stupid is it to give other people access to your phone. Meyer needs to watch “The Wire” and learn about burner phones.

Point: Meyer is Catholic and was named after Pope Urban I. Perhaps that accounts for his piety. He rationalized his “wrong decision” about Zach Smith by claiming he was trying to save his coaching career and stabilize his marriage. Meyer said he tried to do the same thing at Florida when nearly three dozen of his players were arrested for a litany of crimes. “I’ve been accused of helping players too much and giving them too many opportunities,” he said. “That’s an accusation I accept … I went too far trying to help this man (Smith) with his issues.”

Counter point: Meyer is a coach, not a counselor. Forget all the crap about molding young men. That molding only involves those recruits with four or five stars. And preaching to his players about zero tolerance regarding domestic violence is hollow blather.

Point: For the last two months, Meyer has had the opportunity to reverse all the negative (outside of Columbus) commentary. He could have apologized to Courtney Smith. He could have better explained his misstatements at Big Ten media day (or just said he screwed up and lied). Any type of humanity/self-awareness would have worked. Instead, it’s all about Urban Meyer. When asked about what he would say to Courtney Smith, he talked about how difficult it was to “stare at walls” during his suspension.

Counter point: This is the best evidence that Urban Meyer has a soul.

The statement Meyer issued on his Twitter feed Monday included this sentence: “I’m working to make sure I do a better job every day as a leader.” Here’s what it should have said: “I’m working to make sure I do a better job every day as a human being.”

YVS is also Your Vindictive Scribe, willing to unload and maintain a venomous attitude toward those who appear to be Teflon coated when it comes to the truth, ethics and self-awareness.

That’s why YVS refers to Tiger Woods as Eldrick Woods because he’s not Tiger anymore. And that’s why Ohio State’s football coach henceforth will be known as Urban Liar.