Football Outsiders

Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

Huge news from college football, as the Ohio State Buckeyes are putting Urban Meyer on "paid administrative leave." They are investigating claims in a story from college football reporter Brett McMurphy that Meyer was aware of allegations against a former Ohio State assistant coach and did nothing about it. This could be the end for one of college football's premiere coaches at his dream job. Offensive coordinator Ryan Day will be the acting head coach during the investigation.

Comments

36 comments, Last at 07 Aug 2018, 1:00am

1 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Will Allen // Aug 02, 2018 - 2:33am

The sight of ostensibly smart people doing extremely stupid things strongly suggests that absolutely everybody is an idiot about something.

Login or Register to post comments

20 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by LionInAZ // Aug 02, 2018 - 6:49pm

Especially sports coaches. College athletics are ridiculously corrupt, because there's too much money involved, except for the student athletes.

Login or Register to post comments

2 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by jtr // Aug 02, 2018 - 8:24am

*reads levelheaded summary on FO*

*slinks off to Deadspin for sultry details*

Login or Register to post comments

3 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by jtr // Aug 02, 2018 - 9:03am

I don't get why no one has learned this yet. STOP PROTECTING THESE PEOPLE. It's the coverup that destroys an organization, not the scandal itself. If MSU/Penn State/OSU/etc had just fired the abuser as soon as they found out about it, the abuser would be the only person to take any blame and it would pretty quickly go away. Instead, by trying to cover it up, they implicate more people in it and make the entire thing orders of magnitude more damaging when it finally comes up.

What's even the payoff here if they succeed in this coverup? He's a damn wide receivers coach! Even if he's the freaking best WR coach in the country, you just have to fire him and make do with the next-best WR coach. Because it beats the hell out of losing a larger chunk of your coaching staff and having your whole organization's reputation trashed.

Login or Register to post comments

6 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Pat // Aug 02, 2018 - 11:35am

"What's even the payoff here if they succeed in this coverup? He's a damn wide receivers coach!"

He's not a "damn wide receivers coach." He's the grandson of Earle Bruce. You know, the guy who gave Meyer his first coaching job, and the guy who Meyer has said was the most influential person in his life other than his father. Make sense now?

Bruce was one of the two people who asked Courtney in person to drop the charges in 2009. This is Meyer trying to protect his mentor's grandkid.

You think it's a coincidence that Bruce died this year, and just now these allegations are coming out? He died in April. *One month later*, Smith *pulls into* his wife's house and she calls the police, and this all comes out. Doesn't take a genius to realize what strings were being pulled before.

And to answer your first question:

"I don't get why no one has learned this yet. STOP PROTECTING THESE PEOPLE."

This isn't the right thing to say. The problem is that "these people" are really, really good at convincing everyone else that they're not the horrible people they're revealed to be. Like, *really* really good. They have to be. The ones that aren't don't get away with it.

The key here isn't that Urban protected the guy. I have no doubt whatsoever that Smith knew how to play Bruce like a fiddle, convincing him that he wasn't a horrible human being, and then Bruce leaned on others. And asking people to see through that is crazy. You can't expect everyday people to be able to see through a psychopath's fake face. This happens All. The. Time.

The key is to figure out why the *police* let up on it, and fix *that* problem. She called 911 several times, reported threatening behavior, and nothing happened for multiple years. She couldn't get a restraining order against him, even with pictures of his abuse, until late 2015.

Now, I don't know what happened behind the scenes, so who knows, this could've also been Meyer/Bruce manipulating people in a bad way ("leave my grandkid alone or you'll be out of a job" type thing), but it also could've been police being manipulated by a famous figure.

Login or Register to post comments

9 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Pat // Aug 02, 2018 - 12:07pm

I realize in reading this it kinda sounds like I'm defending Urban, which I'm absolutely not. But the key detail here is to find out why the sketchy police stuff happened. If Urban had a hand in any of that, that's prison-level awful. But he just turned a blind eye to it, to *me*, that's just a huge personal failure, and to *me*, that doesn't make him an awful human being, just an average one. Which still means he would have to be fired, obviously, since the coach of a major university needs to be *better* than an average person.

(And if that still sounds wishy-washy, sorry. I've got complicated opinions on things like this. I worry constantly about whether or not I'm being manipulated by horrible people posing as decent ones.)

Login or Register to post comments

10 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by ChrisS // Aug 02, 2018 - 12:52pm

I don't think Smith had to work too hard to convince Meyer. It's human nature to believe someone who is from the same "tribe" and to be defensive about outsiders trying to "tear us down". There's also a tendency to avoid painful confrontations and maintain the status quo. However it is Meyer's duty to go against these tendencies and enforce the rules he is required to enforce, that's why he gets almost $7.6m a year

Login or Register to post comments

12 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Pat // Aug 02, 2018 - 1:27pm

Exactly, and that's why I fully expect Meyer to resign, and I imagine it'll be a clean-house replacement as well (several of the coaches knew what was going on as well).

I'm only saying that because, to me, this doesn't make Meyer a horrible human being (unless more comes out, like he pushed law enforcement or something), just an ordinary flawed one. But you can't be a flawed one and be a major public figure (or at least 'shouldn't').

I hate referencing the Penn State situation since it apparently makes people's brains explode, but I stand by what I said Penn State should do then, and OSU should do now (but they won't). Don't fire Meyer, have him resign as head coach, admitting that he was fooled by the grandson of his mentor, and have him (and his wife) lead an OSU sponsored foundation into helping expose abusers like this, educating people and police about the warning signs and making sure that abused women know they have a place to turn to where people will actually listen.

The problem with Meyer resigning (or being fired) is that they're scapegoating him as the problem, and suddenly everyone starts saying "oh, I would've said something, that Meyer is a misogynistic pig" whereas the truth is, the vast majority of people (frighteningly) *do not* say anything.

Login or Register to post comments

14 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Bright Blue Shorts // Aug 02, 2018 - 1:54pm

Yep ... "there's a tendency to avoid painful confrontations and maintain the status quo"

And you know another thing ... perhaps Meyer thinks to himself ... I report Smith and he gets fired and he never gets another job in coaching there goes his decent income and the wife isn't going to get the alimony she needs and that nice house/car are all gone.

I'm not saying that's right ... but it's how people rationalise stuff to themselves. It's absurd on the outside looking in ... but a lot of people are huge on rationalisation.

Login or Register to post comments

19 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by LionInAZ // Aug 02, 2018 - 6:41pm

It's about "protecting your own". Something there's way too much of these days.

Login or Register to post comments

4 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Bright Blue Shorts // Aug 02, 2018 - 10:24am

I don't believe this will be the end of Meyer's career.

If Ohio State sack him then there will be another college zooming into hire him. He's too good a coach to be left in the cold.

He's not the abuser in this situation; all he did was fail to follow his contract that stated he had to report anyone who is.

That's very non-football stuff and when he signed the contract in 2015, DV was all over the news because of the NFL's failure to respond. I'm not sure it's that high profile now.

A new college can sign him and say "he made a mistake, we will be monitoring him carefully" etc, etc.

Login or Register to post comments

7 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Pat // Aug 02, 2018 - 11:47am

Yeah, uh, no. Tressel was a pretty damn good coach as well, and the tattoo lying incident was the end of his coaching career. And that was seriously nothing compared to this.

I don't think you realize how bad this is. This isn't just a one-time thing with Meyer, this is his entire coaching staff. Meyer's wife was constantly texting Courtney (edit: *and* the other wives too) back and forth. Courtney sent *pictures* of the abuse to Meyer's wife. (And keep in mind, his wife's an OSU employee too - so she's got Title IX obligations as well.)

It could get a *lot* worse, because in fact the details of the abuse were in the divorce, but those got sealed "in order to protect certain businesses and personal interests which, if published, may negatively affect (Zach Smith’s) occupation." There's also a police report from 2015 which has been modified from the original. So... there's possible evidence of really bad stuff happening.

If Meyer knew about *that*, then it starts to get a *whole* lot worse.

Login or Register to post comments

8 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Bright Blue Shorts // Aug 02, 2018 - 11:52am

To be honest, I only skimread one of the articles - just seemed like he was in breach of contract for a clause that had been inserted at a time of panic-reacting.

I appreciate your update and yes, then maybe it becomes worse.

Login or Register to post comments

11 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Aug 02, 2018 - 1:26pm

Allegations are not facts.

My day job involves litigation and litigation-adjacent work. I've worked on class-actions involves millions of people and exposures in the hundreds of billions.

The single nastiest case I ever worked on was a divorce case.

Login or Register to post comments

13 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Pat // Aug 02, 2018 - 1:34pm

Completely understand where you're coming from. I get it. Really do.

But to be perfectly honest, there's a text message exchange from 2015 between Courtney and the wife of the football operations director at Ohio State.

Courtney: “(Zach’s) trying to make me look crazy bc that’s what Shelley is saying (he’s doing)”
Lindsey: “He (Urban) just said he (Zach) denied everything”
Courtney: “I hope urban is smarter than that”
Lindsey: “He (Urban) doesn’t know what to think”
Courtney: “I don’t really care. Ya know”
Lindsey: “Yeah, don’t worry about urb”

Considering Urban flat out said that he had never heard anything in 2015 at a press conference, and nothing was ever reported, the only way this isn't the end of the road for Urban at OSU is if those text messages are faked. Which, if they were, you'd figure that would come out very quickly.

Login or Register to post comments

16 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Will Allen // Aug 02, 2018 - 2:08pm

Divorce allegations are the worst. People will literally say anything, without any regard to truth. To the point where I sometimes think a few perjury trials might make society better off.

Login or Register to post comments

15 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Will Allen // Aug 02, 2018 - 1:56pm

Good grief, I forgot that Meyer's wife was an OSU employee as well. Somebody texts you pictures of abuse, and your first move isn't to get your rear end out of the legal wringer? Just draw droppingly moronic. I remember once when my wife accidentally discovered evidence of minor embezzlement and asked me whether she should confront the embezzler. I said, no, the 1st move is to get the organization's CEO on the line tell him the call is being recorded, tell him what you know, and how you found out, and offer to get the police on the line as well. If you see evidence of a serious crime, and don't report immediately, you are just too exposed, even before Title IX stuff.

Login or Register to post comments

5 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Raiderjoe // Aug 02, 2018 - 11:01am

u. meyer a troubled man. tema with several horrible guys at Florida includiogjn Patriots murderer guy A. hernandez. Yet we have to see thse articles from time to tiem and profile on ESPN college football shows abtou how U. meyer is this tremendou guy hwo heals the sick and rescues cats from trees

Login or Register to post comments

17 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Will Allen // Aug 02, 2018 - 2:25pm

This was released today...

https://www.projectveritas.com/2018/08/02/an-unfair-game-urban-meyer-a-h...

....and if some of these accounts, from former players, are true, Meyer has to go, yesterday. To not give proper, prompt, medical attention, to someone with an infection, is just inexcusable.

It is amazing how the dam bursts, and kind of sickening to think of the health risks taken here, by athletes who have their compensation restricted by a cartel, with no CBA in place.

Login or Register to post comments

18 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Bright Blue Shorts // Aug 02, 2018 - 3:28pm

There's very low benefit to being a whistleblower.

The people who do it have their names dragged through the mud and their lives ruined. Ten to fifteen years later they may be vindicated but still get very little back from it.

And then one day the right situation occurs and the dam bursts.

Login or Register to post comments

21 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by LionInAZ // Aug 02, 2018 - 7:12pm

And to think we supposedly have laws protecting whistleblowers. Says boatloads about what really matters.

Login or Register to post comments

22 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Floyd // Aug 02, 2018 - 8:32pm

The more I read, the less I'm convinced Urban Meyer committed a fireable offense.

Courtney Smith herself states that she never told Shelley Meyer or the other coaches' wives about any physical abuse, just the emotional abuse related to their separation. (11 minute mark of her interview video).

She says she didn't tell them about the physical abuse because the wives would have forced her to do something about it. She relied on her husband's income and didn't want to jeopardize that.

The inference of the texts in the article are that they reference physical abuse. But we infer that because of what we know now, not because of what is in the texts. There is no specific reference to physical violence.

In the context that Smith stated (she told them of no physical violence, just extreme emotional abuse), the texts read like supportive exchanges during an ugly separation with custody of kids involved.

It's very plausible that the Meyers thought that this was the end of a toxic marriage with he said/she said accusations flying back and forth rather than an actual physically abusive relationship.

Login or Register to post comments

24 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Will Allen // Aug 02, 2018 - 9:49pm

"In 2015, I came forward with it. I told Shelley. I sent her some pictures. I spoke to her on the phone," Courtney Smith told Stadium"

.....pictures of what, bruised feelings?

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/02/us/urban-meyer-ohio-state-university-assi...

Login or Register to post comments

23 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by young curmudgeon // Aug 02, 2018 - 9:15pm

Ohio State isn't looking too good at the moment--Band director fired for 'sexualized' culture of band and abuse, wrestling team allegations against a trainer are flying fast and furious, now this.

Add in the Sandusky fiasco and fraternity house death at Penn State and the abuse of gymnasts at Michigan State, and the Big Ten is beginning to resemble a stinking cesspool.

Login or Register to post comments

27 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Aug 03, 2018 - 8:38am

I don't think I've ever seen a band that didn't have a sexualized culture.

\the only group with more drama was, well, Drama
\\Many of my college friends were in the band frat

Login or Register to post comments

25 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by MC2 // Aug 03, 2018 - 12:15am

I've never liked Urban Meyer. I generally have a low opinion of most college coaches (both football and basketball), and Meyer has always seemed even worse than most. He epitomizes the sort of smug, self-righteous blowhard that seems all too common in the world of college sports.

Having said all that, I disagree that Meyer's huge salary means that he has an obligation to be a "better person" than anyone else. The reason Ohio State pays him all that money is not to be a good person, but to run a successful program (i.e. to win). There may be "character clauses" in his contract, but his ability to lead a winning program is the only reason that contract exists.

In short, to whatever extent Meyer had moral obligations that he failed to live up to, those moral obligations came not from being a highly successful, well compensated college football coach, but simply from the obligation we all have to be decent human beings.

Login or Register to post comments

26 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Will Allen // Aug 03, 2018 - 6:38am

The point is not that Meyer has an obligation to be more moral. The point is that people who are paid huge compensation to manage other people have an obligation to be clearly superior administrators. That includes not getting the business jammed up with idiocies such as this. You don't let the performance of a business that generates income like Ohio State football get threatened because your wide receivers coach won't refrain from abusing his wife.

Login or Register to post comments

30 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Aug 03, 2018 - 1:22pm

I was going to argue about how I think the risk of having an assistant who beats his wife torpedoing your organization has drastically changed over the last decade - and then I realized that there was an incident in 2015, and there's really no excuse for not getting rid of the guy at that point.

Login or Register to post comments

31 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by MC2 // Aug 04, 2018 - 2:17am

That's a good point, and I agree that he has a professional obligation based on his position/contract. I was disputing the notion from some of the above comments (e.g. #9) that his salary/position created a moral obligation for him to be "better" than the average person.

Login or Register to post comments

28 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by dryheat // Aug 03, 2018 - 8:51am

He's also an employee of the state. Maybe at a private university the administration could justify slapping him on the wrist and letting him continue to win football games on double-secret probation. But that dog won't hunt when you're on the government payroll.

I've always felt he had some con-man in him and he came off as generally untrustworthy in interviews. But he'll probably surface somewhere at a Div II or III or NAIA school in a couple of years.

Login or Register to post comments

32 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by MC2 // Aug 04, 2018 - 2:21am

But that dog won't hunt when you're on the government payroll.

I'm not so sure about that. Politicians are on the government payroll, and they have been known to survive some pretty major scandals. I think in sports or politics, or just about any other job, the higher you are in the pecking order, the longer leash you have.

Login or Register to post comments

34 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by MJK // Aug 04, 2018 - 1:19pm

Elected Politicians are a different category. They can only be “fired” by impeachment or by being voted out. Most government employees are held to very high standards.

Login or Register to post comments

33 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by herewegobrowniesherewego // Aug 04, 2018 - 1:01pm

He'll have a similar post-OSU path to Tressel IMHO. Might be done coaching altogether at any level, but higher level academic admin roles might work.

Login or Register to post comments

29 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Floyd // Aug 03, 2018 - 12:28pm

We don't know what, if any, pictures she sent to Shelley Meyer. We've seen text exchanges, we've seen pictures she took of herself and we've heard her interview in which she contradicts herself a few times. She said she didn't tell about the physical abuse but also says she sent pictures. We know nothing except what Courtney Smith has chosen to tell us.

I know we live in a twitter mob world that requires a scalp a day, but there's enough ambiguity in what's been revealed so far to warrant a step back.

Login or Register to post comments

35 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by big10freak // Aug 04, 2018 - 4:31pm

Meyer lied about not knowing what transpired in 2015. And then the employee in question was fired this past July. Why now? Those are the two major items for Meyer and the university that put his status in question

To the larger point CEOs are regularly fired maybe not at the time but at some point for the transgressions of one or more of their employees that reflect poorly on the organization? Why? Because that is one of the hazards of being the leader. If you get paid the big dollar you take the hit when some segment of your team, even if it's just a few people, go and do something that the board finds unacceptable most likely because of public blowback, negative perception.

Meyer is paid like a CEO. He is treated like a CEO. And OSU football is a money making organization of a serious nature. The board may decide that keeping him in place is not worth the 'harm' to the organizational brand.

Login or Register to post comments

36 Re: Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Administrative Leave

by Subrata Sircar // Aug 07, 2018 - 1:00am

The major issue is that it appears that both Meyers have statutory reporting obligations, both as university employees and under Title IX. (And his wife is a nurse!)

If there isn't a convincing paper trail documenting that the allegations were duly reported - by both of them - then either he is fired for cause, or OSU is in deep trouble.

Meyer's press conference throwing his boss under the bus didn't seem too believable to me, but if they both really did report the alleged abuse, then the next person on the chopping block can take the fall unless they can show that the allegations were investigated throughly. (That seems very unlikely given what's been reported so far.)

If he did report the abuse, then he's only guilty of lying to the press. That's likely not a fireable offense for a coach with his record, whatever I may think.

Login or Register to post comments