Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018
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ANALYSIS

Soap opera at Ohio State will soon come down to just the facts

  • Ohio-State-Motivational-Mantras-Football-8-28

    The fate of Ohio State coach Urban Meyer should be determined soon as the school's investigative committee wraps up a probe into his handling of domestic violence allegations against former coach Zach Smith.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • s1urb

    Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has been on paid administrative leave during fall camp.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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COLUMBUS — It’s hard to differentiate which sideshow is anchored at Ohio State: The Jerry Springer Show or the circus?

Others might lobby for Days of Our Lives or The Young and the Restless.

What’s transpired since allegations of domestic violence committed by fired receivers coach Zach Smith surfaced July 23 is nothing short of mayhem.

Dueling writers posting stories on Facebook. Reddit analysis. Innuendo. A family spat. Even unfounded accusations Texas coach Tom Herman was behind the whole saga. Would it surprise anyone if TMZ broke the story about head coach Urban Meyer’s status at Ohio State?

There’s been so much misdirection that many have lost sight of what the investigation is about: Alleged transgressions by Zach Smith against his ex-wife, Courtney Smith. On top of what happened between the two, there are the questions of what Meyer knew, when he knew it, and what he did with the information.

That’s what the six-member investigative team put together by Ohio State is trying to decipher. Athletic director Gene Smith also has questions to answer about the university’s handling of the situation.

Analyzing the details and sifting through the accusations requires a doctorate in anarchy.

What we do know is Zach Smith was fired July 23 when domestic abuse allegations Courtney Smith reported to police in 2009 and 2015 became public. Meyer was put on paid administrative leave Aug. 1 as the university pledged to investigate how he handled the 2015 allegations; Smith and Meyer claim the head coach followed proper protocols. Zach Smith maintains his marriage was volatile but he never physically abused his ex-wife.

The allegations against Zach Smith are horrific. If true, he was physically and mentally abusive. If they’re false, his career was unjustly ruined.

Jeff Snook, an author and former college football reporter with close ties to the family of former OSU coach Earle Bruce, Meyer’s mentor and Zach Smith’s grandfather, wrote a Facebook post that included quotes from Lynn Bruce, Zach Smith’s mother, and the mother of Courtney Smith, Tina Carano, that called Courtney Smith’s credibility into question. Carano and Courtney Smith are estranged.

For Carano, it’s a turnabout. Text messages revealed by college football writer Brett McMurphy showed she defended her daughter, who was raised by her stepfather, when Courtney and Zach Smith went through their divorce in 2015.

Lynn Bruce and Carano reportedly met with OSU’s investigative team Wednesday. Julia Leveridge, Courtney Smith’s attorney, released a statement Thursday that read, “Courtney is saddened by the vindictive falsehoods her estranged mother is making. They not only hurt her daughter but her grandchildren as well. These allegations will be dealt with at the right time and in the appropriate venue. In the meantime, Ms. Smith is committed to taking the high road and is anxious to share the truth after the litigation has concluded.”

Friday is the 12th day since Ohio State said “the investigation is expected to be completed within 14 days.” When Ohio State releases the findings of its investigation, the facts will finally be known. 

In meantime, more Facebook posts are sure to follow. Some that already have been published could be edited.

Contact Kyle Rowland at: krowland@theblade.com, 419-724-6110, or on Twitter @KyleRowland.

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