Today, Urban Meyer officially returns as the head coach of the Ohio State football team.

He never really left, of course. He spent just one week of the regular season away from practice while under a school-imposed three-game suspension, and Ryan Day coached the Buckeyes through those first three games.

Meyer has a press conference scheduled for 11:30 a.m. today.

He only wishes that the questioners would focus on OSU’s 3-0 start, or exciting quarterback Dwayne Haskins, or how the team is preparing for Saturday’s game against Tulane at Ohio Stadium.

Today, nobody outside the Buckeyes locker room will care about any of that.

The Buckeyes coach put himself in this position when he kept assistant Zach Smith on staff knowing, at the very least, that Smith had been arrested on domestic violence charges against his then-wife, Courtney Smith, in 2015. Courtney Smith has said there were other instances of domestic violence dating to at least 2009, when Smith was a graduate assistant on Meyer’s staff at Florida.

Meyer fired Smith on July 23 after reports of Smith’s 2015 arrest came to light. That made Meyer’s performance at B1G Media Days look pretty embarrassing. Turns out that was just the start.

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We won’t rehash the entire saga here, but suffice it to say that most of the nation thinks the university’s punishment of Meyer was too light. At least one Ohio State trustee agreed, resigning from his post after OSU handed down the three-game ban.

This weekend, ESPN aired an exclusive interview that Meyer gave to Tom Rinaldi, in which the embattled coach continued to defend most of his actions.

Ohio State, of course, is not the only school to go through controversial situations which made people wonder if the football program had been deemed “too big to fail” by the university it represents.

But in a larger sense, Meyer is both the inheritor and the latest exhibitor of a tarnished legacy at Ohio State.

Amid all the winning — the Buckeyes own 901 victories, second all-time to archrival Michigan — there is one inescapable fact. Woody Hayes was fired for punching an opposing player during a bowl game. Jim Tressel was shown the door in the wake of “Tattoogate.” Now Meyer has survived a scandal that, frankly, would have brought some coaches down.

That trio accounts for all of OSU’s national championships except the one Paul Brown’s team earned in 1942.

Those are the three most successful coaches in program history. And they were clearly flawed as leaders of young men.

So what does this all mean for the 2018 Buckeyes? Does it mean anything? That should not be the most important question but it’s the one we’re asking here because this is a football website and Ohio State has nine football games left on its schedule.

The coaching staff led the players, or the players led themselves, through the situation on the field as well as can be expected. The Buckeyes blew out two inferior opponents, then responded after trailing at halftime on Saturday night against a truly top-notch foe in TCU to win 40-28.

But it’s fair to ask if three more months of this cloud hanging over Columbus will begin to weigh on the players. They’re only human, and in 2018 it’s impossible to tune out all the outside noise no matter how much coaches try.

If this immensely talented team falls short of its goals of winning the Big Ten and reaching the College Football Playoff, would Buckeyes fans blame Meyer? Will history judge this team harshly even though the current players had nothing to do with the scandal?

It’s also fair to assume that a lot of fans around the country, to put it generously, will see any failures at OSU this season as bad karma coming back around to bite the Buckeyes on the bottom.

So, coach? How are those preparations coming for the game against the Green Wave?