Happy Tuesday, WFNY!
Ohio State kicks off their 2018 football season one week from this Saturday. It’s hard to believe the season is starting so soon. Oh sure, football seasons always seem to sneak up on pretty quickly once August rolls around, but this year it feels exceptionally fast. Mostly because it feels like Ohio State didn’t have a training camp. They ponder if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Well, if Ohio State has a training camp and the media isn’t there to cover it, does it really happen?
I told myself I wasn’t going to write about the situation at Ohio State until after a decision was made. I’ve tried over the 10 years of this site to avoid writing about Ohio State much in general. I’ll sprinkle in some fan flavor and alumni perspective here and there. But I realized early on that writing about teams changes the way I feel about them from a fan perspective. And I made the decision to keep tOSU as the one thing I would have for myself, to allow myself to just be another dumb fan.
Furthermore, we at WFNY decided pretty early on that we were not going to dip our toes into the gossip pool. The way this Ohio State situation has been covered has, quite frankly, been disgusting. I know, nobody else needs a lecture from me on how things should be covered, and every site had to decide for themselves how they were going to handle it. For me (and for us as a site as well), I wanted to remain sensitive to the fact that no matter what the outcome might be, there is a potential real victim of domestic abuse here.
Watching so many Ohio State fans jump on every salacious rumor about Zach Smith’s ex-wife has been disheartening. Yes, I want Ohio State to have good football and I think Urban Meyer is a great coach and a good man and I hate to see another scandal rock the program so shortly after Jim Tressel left. But at what cost? I see Ohio State fans pay lip service all the time to Ohio State “doing things the right way” and taking pride in that, yet as soon as something occurs that might show tOSU didn’t do things the right way, many of those same fans are so quick to attack the outside and defend the program to no end.
Look, loyalty is one thing. I feel more loyalty for Ohio State than anything else in sports. Nothing is more literally in my blood and a part of me in sports than Ohio State. But if Urban Meyer turned a blind eye to abuse on his staff and/or tried to cover up that abuse in any way, he needs to be fired. Ohio State is not above abuse. Urban Meyer is not bigger than this school and this football program.
I don’t know what Urban Meyer did or didn’t do. I have no clue what he knew of Zach Smith’s relationship and the possible abuse, I don’t know who Urban told about it and how they discussed it. So I’m not going to opine on what should happen or what I think is going to happen. All I can do is trust that the investigation is finding the relevant facts and OSU President Michael Drake is going to make the right decision for the university as a whole.
I’m sure many will read this and be angry and think I’m being naïve to the “facts” of the case. I’ve seen all the same rumors you guys have, I’ve seen the Twitter lawyers and the anonymous posts and I’ve gotten the texts from someone still close to Urban and blah blah blah. I’ve seen Brett McMurphy change his story and rewrite without posting notes about the retractions. I’ve seen his reports on things that have nothing to do with abuse just to embarrass Zach Smith. I’ve seen what the victim’s mother had to say about all of this.1 I’m not interested in any of that high school drama. I just want the facts.
With that in mind, I was pretty disheartened to see that the panel is giving the results to the board orally. This is presumably done to avoid any information coming out through a Freedom of Information Act request. And that really bums me out. I’m hoping for transparency in this. It may not be any of my business what kind of things Zach Smith was buying on Amazon, but I feel like it is my business to know what Urban Meyer did in handling this entire situation.
For me, this entire situation has been pretty simple. I don’t really care if Urban lied to the media. I do care about how he handled this situation internally, though. If he was negligent, I want OSU to take a stand and say we will not tolerate this here. We don’t put football above doing the right thing. If he really did pass the info he had up and if there was a lot more grey area to this that we don’t know, then I’m not sure how he can lose his job over this. Everything else has just been noise and distraction to me. Until we know more, that’s all I really have to say about this situation. I want success for OSU football, but not above truly doing the right thing.
- I’ve yet to see anything that explains away Zach Smith seemingly corroborating that he choked his ex-wife when she texted him about it and he said “I’m sorry.” Until that happens, I’m not doing anything to attack the victim here. [↩]