Yesterday, the Ohio State Board of Trustees met with the university President Michael Drake and Head Coach Urban Meyer. This meeting was set to discuss the findings of the investigation of Meyer’s handling in the recent domestic abuse scandal involving former WR coach Zach Smith. After an 11 hour deliberation, the University decided to suspend Meyer without pay for the first 3 games of the season.
This whole ordeal began when Zach Smith was fired after a criminal trespassing charge was filed against him by his ex-wife Courtney on May 12. Meyer fired Smith after hearing of this in late July. Smith has had a history of domestic abuse against his then wife, even while under Meyer in 2009 at the University of Florida. There was also an incident in 2015, which Meyer claimed to have known nothing about at the Big Ten media days. After reporter Brett McMurphy released a story claiming that this statement was a lie, Meyer was placed on administrative leave and an investigation was ordered immediately.
Through this investigation, we learned that Meyer did in fact know about the incident, as well as reported it to his superior Gene Smith. After this information came out, the issue became even more divisive, with some claiming that Meyer didn’t do the morally correct thing by keeping Zach Smith on his staff.
The meeting was reportedly supposed to last a couple hours at most but argument set in after Drake requested that Meyer and AD Gene Smith face a suspension. The Board of Trustees as well as Meyer started this argument on the basis that Meyer would not serve a suspension of any kind, because they believed he followed all necessary reporting protocol. Eventually, both sides agreed to the 3 game suspension, and a press conference was held shortly thereafter.
Now what will this mean for Meyer and the Ohio State football program? For Urban Meyer, he will have absolutely zero contact with the team until after the season opener against the Oregon State Beavers. After this he will be able to direct practices, but still may not attend the games until after Ohio State’s showdown against #16 TCU. Meyer will also forego 6 weeks of salary throughout his suspension. The consequences for Ohio State are dependent on how the team is able to rally around Interim Head Coach Ryan Day. Day has been highly touted as a potential head coaching option for many schools throughout the Power 5.
The biggest challenge will be the matchup against TCU. Rutgers and Oregon State should both be blowout victories, but a team of TCU’s caliber will be difficult to stop without all parts working together. The most important loss that the team suffers in Meyer’s absence is his leadership. Meyer is a great motivator, and his players love him, so if Day is able to provide a strong leadership presence, even if it is for just a few games, this team will be 3-0 after 3 weeks and Day can expect some offers coming next offseason.