“It’s been a long time, a long time coming, But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will”
-Sam Cooke, 1964
Urban Meyer is in the news again and this time it’s not for winning championships. Meyer has been put on administrative leave from the school which employs him while those around him investigate how much he knew about a coach on his staff assaulting his wife on multiple occasions.
This is not the kind of attention a high-profile program, or any program for that matter, wants less than a month before football season. Nor is it the kind of behavior anyone wants from a person of authority. Perhaps we are asking too much.
Coaches hate talking to the media. It’s a rather unfortunate part of their job description. They’d much rather be on the field drawing up plays and coaching up the young men they’ve recruited. While coaches hate talking to the media, they absolutely hate talking to the media about problems within their program, especially when those problems include indiscretions by their coaches or players.
Right now, Meyer isn’t talking to anyone. He’s shored up in his Columbus mansion trying to get his story straight for it is only a matter of time before the media comes for him once again. As this investigation continues, journalists are doing their best to get to the bottom of what happened. That includes reviewing multiple text messages and continuing to find out who knew what and when. Likewise, the University is performing its own investigation and looking to spin this the best way it can. The program will do its darnedest to keep the game’s second-best coach (by national championship standards) in its employ. In light of other tragedies in the very same conference, despite Coach Meyer’s record, the cards may be stacked against him.
Tales of Meyer’s questionable past date back to his days at the University of Florida. Those of us with ties to Florida have an altogether different opinion of Meyer. While he brought us some glorious times in the mid-aughts, in retrospect, it’s as if we sold our souls. The saintly image of Heisman Trophy-winning Tim Tebow sure covered up a lot of shady shit.
The terms and manner in which Meyer left our beloved Gainesville were sketchy at best. Years later, stories emerged of what he did and didn’t know about several characters, i.e., Aaron Hernandez and other problems that plagued the program. Under Meyer’s tenure, 31 Florida players were arrested in a town where arrests of star players are generally overlooked. Winning sure cures a lot of ills.
When Meyer left Florida for reported bad health and heart (how ironic), it was thought he’d never coach again, that the strains of coaching high-profile college football were eating away at his health. A cushy, ESPN analyst position awaited.
It turns out it wasn’t what was going on between the sidelines that were eating away at this man but what was going on outside of them. Only one college football season after leaving Gainesville, he returned home to Ohio for another high-profile coaching gig. Florida hasn’t been the same since. Nor has Ohio State who immediately became a contender, winning a national championship in Meyer’s third year on campus and winning no fewer than 11 games for six straight seasons.
Meet the new Meyer, same as the old Meyer. Long perceived as a man who would overlook indiscretions for wins, Meyer has done so again, allegedly. He now waits to hear the school’s decision on whether he’ll coach another game in scarlet and gray.
While firing one of this era’s most successful coaches (and I use that word only in terms of wins and losses) will be a difficult decision, the school can ill afford to be as soft on Meyer as Meyer has been on everyone else. The Buckeye might stop here.
Of course, in the bigger picture, Meyer’s firing is irrelevant. The problem lay in the fact that we continue to see coaching success in terms of wins and losses, which is far easier to measure, rather than the effect these men have on those they’ve coached along the way. That is far harder to calculate.
It’s easy for an embittered Gator fan to say “it’s your problem now, Ohio State” but this issue goes far beyond that. The task at hand is not solely to call for Meyer’s head. That’s resolves little. Are men around the world suddenly going to stop beating their wives because the game’s second greatest coach was fired? Unlikely.
The larger and perhaps far too ideal issue is how to create a culture where we universally condemn this behavior to the point where it no longer exists. Every time I think we’re getting closer to accomplishing this goal, another such story arises.
Don’t let our flat screens per capita and nationwide internet access fool you. We are still a very primitive society at best. ESPN recently called what’s going on in America “a societal sea change” but why only now are we deeming this behavior unacceptable? For how long have coaches or men in any profession beaten the crap out of their wives either physically or psychologically and gotten away with it or perhaps even rewarded for it? And why only now are these cases a big deal?
Urban Meyer recently co-wrote a book laughably entitled “Above the Line: Lessons in Leadership and Life.” Suffice to say you will soon find it on the discount racks of your local book store.
Speaking of books, all the while writing this, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Irving Welsh’s Filth, a book about a bad cop whose continued indiscretions and heinous behavior end up eating away at his soul, turning him into a pig. This fictitious character’s chickens came home to roost. I can’t help but think this is what’s happening to Meyer. It’s a shame any of this happened at all, yet another legendary coach whose oversights lead to the redefinition of his legacy, making him legendary for all the wrong reasons.
Meyer will ultimately be fine. He will coach again somewhere whether that be in Columbus or somewhere else. We continue to reward the unrewardable. The coach on his staff who beat his wife will get his. I have faith in that. This, however, will be of little or no consequence to the victim of these crimes. It shouldn’t to the rest of us either.
It sounds like you’ve already condemned the man. There are a lot of unanswered questions, hence the investigation. I wonder what are the limits of invasion of privacy, or university standards for acceptable behavior outside the scope of your job? If he did know of the behavior and did nothing, personally, I’d fire him. If, however, he knew some of, and tried to talk to his coach, provide resources and encourage him to get help via counseling or by any means necessary, would you still hold him accountable because he didn’t tell the university?
I would be interested in what the Ohio State University will do, particularly since their President is the former Chancellor at my current institution, UC Irvine.
On another note, the issue of domestic violence is not knew, it’s just getting more attention and rightfully so. Personally, I’ve never hit a woman, and never would. I just don’t get it. However, there clearly are individuals who manage issues in their lives very differently. As you so eloquently stated, the coach on his staff who beat his wife will get his. Let’s just hope that higher education institutions will not look at this as an isolated incident, but recognize that is larger and more prevalent than we care to admit and something at the institutional level needs to be done.
Urban Oscar Meyer wiener be like….
She’ll be fine. I got football games to win God dammit….. She shoulda just made the damn sandwich when he told her to and none of this woulda happened!
Urban Meyer has now admitted that he knew of the allegations surrounding one of his assistant coaches. Why do I get the feeling that Meyer is no better than that scumbag predecessor Jim Tressel ? He knew of the allegations did not inform the AD ot University President. College Football much like it’s professional counterpart has become an ongoing joke..
“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye
Na na na na na na na na
Hey hey hey goodbye” Steam aka The Band
1) I agree with GMONY in the sense that I’m waiting for the full scope of this to come out. America today is all about “accuse, condemn, then investigate.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of anything which causes a massive hull breach in Columbus, but I’m not willing to forego due process to do it.
Not to mention for reasons, I’m keeping to myself for purpose of possibly writing about this myself, there’s somethings in this story which don’t add up and make me smell the proverbial rat.
2) ESPN’s “societal sea change” is a lofty load of shit of the highest order. I’ll buy “sea change” if at Ohio State’s home opener, the stadium is empty as a protest and/or certain bloggers who shall remain nameless stop watching the NFL because their quarterback likes to forcibly finger-pop Uber drivers.
Speaking of CrabLegs McRapey, do you think Nike cut their ties with Winston because of his behavior, or the fact he’s played his way off any imaginable “doesn’t suck” list. Don’t tell me this isn’t a perfect excuse for Nike to “trade up.”
2) “Are men around the world suddenly going to stop beating their wives because the game’s second greatest coach was fired?”
Not only is the answer to that very obviously “No,” but why do you have to drag Dabo Swinney into this?
I think OSU will do everything in its power to keep the guy or at least to show that he did his due diligence.
I get it. If the guy was someone who had worked with him and for him for years then Meyer might have tried, if he knew that the guy had a problem, to support him and get him some help.
Not sure if that’s what happened. From everything I’ve read, however, all the coaches’ wives on the staff knew this was a problem. If that’s the case, Meyer’s fate may be sealed.
He can kiss his analysts position goodbye, especially at ESPN, if he gets fired for that. You know they don’t play that.
With his resume, though, he’ll definitely land a gig somewhere, if he wants. There’s gotta be a power five school that will hire a guy like Meyer even with all that’s happened.
On a related note, will Pitino ever coach again?
Barefoot and pregnant. Old school.
Pretty shocking news to say the least.
I’ll tell ya’ one thing. I’ve spoken with three hardcore Buckeye football fans who all agree.
If he knew about all this, he’s gotta go.
Vegas lists him as a heavy favorite to be gone.
I’d still take him staying at plus money.
I’m sure Swinney appreciates the compliment but at this point, Meyer’s resume is a little loftier. Once he’s out of the game, which might be soon, I’d gladly give the dap to Dabo.
I look forward to your take on the matter. It’s ‘still quite the mess and wondering when all the truth will come out…. or if it will.
Won’t speak now on UM but as an Alabama alum and fan, it scares me to think of what Saban must deal with between the questionable recruits he gets and the 40 plus staffers that work in the UA program that could go off the rails at any time.
Saban’s even more bullet proof than Meyer, Moose.
I still think Meyer will be coaching Ohio State this season.
I guess we shall see.
But you’re right. I know the salaries are nice but who the hell would want to deal with all that mess?
Just when you think everything is all honky-dory, one of your players, or worse, coaches, goes and does something stupid.