Urban Meyer's judgment day is near: Predicting what Ohio State will do
Let me be clear. I stand by what I wrote two weeks ago.
I believe Ohio State should fire Urban Meyer.
Everything that we’ve learned since then via reports from Brett McMurphy, Cleveland.com, the Columbus Dispatch, Eleven Warriors and others suggests that Meyer ignored Zach Smith’s checkered past and keep him on his staff. Oh, and Meyer gave Smith raises to stay at Ohio State.
I believe that Meyer is guilty of far more than “lying to the media,” as he did at B1G Media Days when he blatantly lied about knowing of Smith’s 2015 domestic violence allegation. Meyer lied to the public, and perhaps more importantly, he lied to everyone who has ever listened to him say that he has “a zero-tolerance policy against domestic violence.” He got caught in a lie — one that was far more serious than an injury report — all in an effort to protect the grandson of his mentor, Earle Bruce.
I believe that to be a fireable offense. But there’s a difference between what I think should happen to Meyer, and what I think will happen.
We’re nearing the end of the 14-day timeframe that Ohio State gave itself to complete an investigation into Meyer’s Title IX protocol. Thus, a decision on the Buckeye coach’s future is expected within the week.
So what will Ohio State do? Let’s tackle that all-important question.
Gun to my head, I don’t believe Meyer has coached his last game at Ohio State. Two weeks ago, I would’ve gone in the other direction. As soon as Meyer was put on administrative leave, I thought Ohio State was just trying to figure out a potential buyout situation or if he’d be fired with cause.
But ever since Meyer released that shameless statement on Twitter, I got the feeling that this is going in a different direction.
Meyer’s statement, wherein he admitted that he lied at B1G Media Days about his knowledge of Smith’s 2015 domestic violence allegation, suggested that Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is going to take the fall for this. If Ohio State’s investigation rules that Meyer did indeed follow proper Title IX protocol, the spin will be that the Buckeye A.D. didn’t take action when he should’ve.
Obviously someone didn’t do their job to allow someone with Zach Smith’s rap sheet to stay at Ohio State (I don’t care what he said about how “he didn’t tell Meyer” about the drunk driving arrest).
That’s why regardless of what the investigative team finds out about Meyer’s Title IX protocol, I believe the Buckeyes fire their longtime athletic director. It’ll make the “independent” investigation team, which has been criticized for having multiple Ohio State Board of Trustees on it, look like it came down hard without doing what the university would like to avoid at all costs.
That is, fire Meyer.
I don’t believe that happens. In addition to Gene Smith’s firing, my prediction is that Meyer gets a 4-game suspension and a fine (which he can certainly afford after his new raise this offseason). The investigation team will rule that Meyer followed proper protocol but that he didn’t uphold the moral standards of Ohio State by keeping Smith on staff, or something like that.
The punishment will come off as somewhat tough, and it probably won’t get the massive outrage because firing an A.D. and handing down a 4-game suspension for a head coach isn’t insignificant. Two games would sound too soft, and if they’re going to suspend Meyer for three games (that’s the TCU game), they may as well suspend him for the fourth game against Tulane. He’ll be back just in time for…
- Week 1 — vs. Oregon State
- Week 2 — vs. Rutgers
- Week 3 — vs. TCU (in Dallas)
- Week 4 — vs. Tulane
- Week 5 — at Penn State
Meyer will be there for Penn State. That, I’d bet on.
I’ll admit it, though. From a public relations standpoint, Ohio State did a lot of things right after this story broke.
Putting Meyer on administrative leave the day that McMurphy’s bombshell Courtney Smith report dropped was a wise move to calm the storm. Announcing a 14-day timeline to investigate Meyer — I doubt really the investigation team needed more than 2 or 3 days — made it seem like there was a clear process, and not just a hope that the story would slowly fade from national news. I tend to believe the reason for the timeline was more of the latter.
And while nobody has “forgotten” about anything going on at OSU, the timing might work in the Buckeyes’ favor. Shoot, Meyer isn’t even the best bet to get fired in his own division right now thanks to ESPN’s explosive report on DJ Durkin’s bullying culture at Maryland. That’s college football in a nutshell.
Nobody would be stunned if Meyer kept his job anymore. After all, this is the same program that tried to do whatever it could to not fire Jim Tressel after he was caught lying to the NCAA about Tattoogate. Lengthening his initial slap-on-the-wrist suspension wasn’t enough. The outrage didn’t settle until Tressel was fired. That was only 7 years ago.
The college football world seems to be bracing itself for the inevitable. Ohio State will try and make excuses for another coach who got caught lying, and with a much more serious subject matter this time around.
Soon, we’ll all be left scratching our heads wondering how Meyer danced his way out of this one. The decision on Meyer’s fate is coming, and it’s one that I’m prepared to disagree with. I’ll be ready and waiting.
And if history is any indication, it’ll come late on Friday afternoon.