- By Kirk Bohls American-Statesman Staff
The college football season began this week, and the Buckeyes scored their first win.
Ohio State 1, Ethics 0.
That’s a big, fat zero. Ethics and a sense of morality and a clear conscience and overall integrity took a beating.
But the good news is the Buckeyes are still in the running for the College Football Playoff. For sure, they didn’t play the morality card. They played the it’s-all-about-winning card. Pure and simple.
If the Buckeyes’ head coach were named Bob Smith, he’d be ex-head coach Bob Smith today. But schools of Ohio State’s caliber don’t fire coaches who have won 73 games and lost just eight and delivered a national championship and flirted with several more. They wrist-slap them, as the administration did with Urban Meyer on Wednesday night when it suspended him for three games.
Meyer, the best college football coach not named Nick Saban, survived. But somehow the actual survivor barely got mentioned.
The president didn’t name Courtney Smith, the real victim in this case of domestic violence. The athletic director didn’t. The trustees didn’t. The head coach certainly didn’t. Metoo gave way to Meneither.
Meyer just couldn’t summon enough guts to say his heart pours out with sympathy and respect for the divorced wife of Zach Smith, who apparently is the most indispensable assistant coach in the nation since Meyer risked his job, career and reputation on his behalf. Meyer would only say, “I’m sorry about the situation we’re in.” Way to take responsibility, Urban.
He’s sorry, all right. A sorry excuse for a person for not standing up for Courtney Smith. If Ohio State truly doesn’t believe she was abused, have the courage to say so. You and I both know Meyer is internally incensed that he even received a three-game suspension. I was betting on two. Ohio State missed a real opportunity to make a landmark decision. It could have suspended Meyer for the entire season and donated his salary to women’s advocacy groups.
But big-time college sports is about winning and entertainment and big-time salaries and immunity for head coaches, and Courtney Smith is just one more pawn in this incredible machine that chews up more than a few victims. Maryland’s Jordan McNair is another.
Meyer didn’t appear to have a shred of contrition, not an ounce of remorse. But he did immeasurable damage to his legacy. It’s a shame he didn’t express true emotion for the victim and say he would do everything in his power to right this wrong. It’s inconceivable that the trustees said they thought Meyer didn’t deliberately lie at Big Ten media day and said they thought Meyer had real respect for the core value of treating women with respect. That’s comical.
His school violated every tenet of how best to deal with such crises. Be contrite. Have sympathy for the victim. Accept a real punishment with teeth. Ask for forgiveness.
Ohio State didn’t dot the i on Wednesday. It blackened its eye.