On Your Marc 8/14: Meyer in the mire

I am not at all concerned about Ohio State football. Who’s going to go there and lose, especially if you slide the one-year interim reign of Luke Fickell out of the equation? Woody Hayes won .761 percent of his games. Earle Bruce stood at .755. John Cooper was at .715. Jim Tressel was at .810 […]

Another shadow over Buckeyeland

By Marc Katz

I am not at all concerned about Ohio State football.

Who’s going to go there and lose, especially if you slide the one-year interim reign of Luke Fickell out of the equation?

Woody Hayes won .761 percent of his games. Earle Bruce stood at .755. John Cooper was at .715. Jim Tressel was at .810 and Urban Meyer is at a whopping .901 percent.

All of them but Meyer were fired (well, Tressel technically resigned), so you could make a case it’s much more than just winning that determines a coach’s fate.

Because of publication deadlines, Meyer’s staying on at OSU either has already been determined, is being determined or will be determined. When this was written, it was not certain if he would return for a seventh season as Ohio State’s coach, and not because of his on-field record.

The current roiling of the Ohio State waters concerns former assistant coach Zach Smith, who allegedly roughed up his wife several times since 2009 when Smith was first hired by Meyer at Florida.

Smith was fired recently by Meyer over a more recent allegation, but the crux of his current administrative suspension from the team is over multiple allegations that he either didn’t know about, knew about and didn’t report, or reported and didn’t follow up for closure.

Meyer muddied his own story a bit when he lied to the media in an initial confrontation about what he knew and when.

ESPN’s Rece Davis said that’s no crime. If coaches were fired for lying to the media, Davis said, there would be no coaches.

And you thought lying only came out of the White House.

I have no idea if what Meyer said after he admitted lying is true or not, but I had early reservations about what he said upon leaving Florida, needing time to get his health in order and spend more time with his family.

First, he joined ESPN as a commentator, and wasn’t doing that from his living room. Then, just a year out, he took the job at Ohio State. He must have been on family immersion during that non-coaching year.

As far as we all know, Meyer has been a model citizen since taking over at OSU, unless we find out differently during this investigation. It is a little unnerving two of his assistant coaches—Greg Schiano and Kevin Wilson—have controversies in their backgrounds.

Schiano was an assistant coach at Penn State when convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky was there and said he didn’t know at the time about Sandusky, which is why he didn’t speak up about his colleague.

Schiano was never charged for any wrong-doing, but a near hiring as the head coach at Tennessee last season resulted in such a loud fan uproar, the head coaching job offer was rescinded. Schiano returned to Ohio State.

Wilson resigned as coach at Indiana in a dispute with his athletics director over policies regarding injured players. Wilson was said to have improperly urged injured players to continue playing.

Whether true or not, those allegations were sure to surface if either Schiano or Wilson were named interim head coach in place of Meyer. Instead, Ryan Day, an OSU assistant who had never been a head coach, took over Meyer’s duties for the time he is on leave.

It is unclear whether Day retains that job if Meyer is ultimately let go, or if the Buckeyes shift to someone else. When Tressel and OSU parted in 2011, Fickell was on staff and coached the team in an interim role. That resulted in a 6-7 record, and a return to an assistant’s position before Fickell became the head coach at Cincinnati last season.

Meyer is going to be stained no matter how this works out. If he isn’t guilty of doing anything wrong, people who don’t like him are going to point to his sterling record as a coach and claim that’s what saved him.

If he’s found guilty, the people who don’t like him will happily move on to another coach.

Lots of people who didn’t like Bruce and Cooper would be surprised to know each is enshrined in College Football’s Hall of Fame, despite Bruce’s long string of three-loss seasons and Cooper’s inability to figure out a winning way with Michigan.

With Woody, the most iconic coach of them all, the punch in the Gator Bowl is never off the table of conversation. I’m going to guess that’s going to be the case—right or wrong—with Meyer as well.

He is going to be linked to domestic violence, and if he’s guilty of only shrugging in the face of what should be a crime, he deserves that link.

If he’s not, I’m not going to cry, but there are plenty of ways he can reshape a better reputation. Just winning more games isn’t one of them.

The views and opinions expressed in On Your Marc are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

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Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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