COLUMBUS — The day began with a mandatory 7 a.m. team meeting and threatening skies roiling over the Ohio State practice facility. Hours later, the Buckeyes would rock college football.
The school made public the fallout from a weekend gone awry, announcing Monday that top running back Carlos Hyde has been suspended indefinitely, along with penalties for three OSU players arrested in the past week.
In a move that jolted a Buckeyes team with national championship ambitions, Hyde was suspended indefinitely — not kicked off the team, contrary to previous reports — after he was named as a person of interest in a weekend assault. Though no charges have been filed, a woman told Columbus police Hyde assaulted her at a downtown bar early Saturday morning, according to a preliminary investigation report.
Details remain scarce but the report said Hyde did not know the alleged victim.
Coach Urban Meyer also announced punishments for star cornerback Bradley Roby and freshman lineman Tim Gardner, who were arrested during the weekend, and freshman tight end Marcus Baugh.
“I have a clear set of core values in place that members of this football program are constantly reminded of and are expected to honor,” Meyer said in a release. “There are also expectations with regard to behavior. I expect our players to conduct themselves responsibly and appropriately, and they will be held accountable for their actions.”
Roby faces a misdemeanor charge of battery resulting in bodily injury after he was arrested early Sunday in Bloomington, Ind., according to a police statement.
Bloomington police said Roby — a Suwannee, Ga., native — was booted from a bar at about 2:40 a.m. Sunday after allegedly attempting to start a fight with another man, then tried to re-enter to find his friends. When he was stopped, Roby allegedly struck a security guard in the chest, “causing a complaint of pain.” He was then wrestled to the ground and detained for police.
Roby will no longer attend Big Ten media days in Chicago this week and, according to OSU, could face additional discipline as more details of his arrest become available. An All-American, Roby flirted with leaving early for the NFL but returned for his junior season to help anchor a defense that replaces seven starters.
Meyer also announced that Gardner, a freshman from Indianapolis who was arrested Saturday in Columbus on charges of obstruction of official business, has been removed from the team.
Baugh, arrested July 14 for underage drinking and displaying a false ID, will be suspended from team activities through the Buckeyes’ season opener against Buffalo.
“Swift, effective, and fair discipline is the standard for our entire athletics program,” OSU athletic director Gene Smith said. “I applaud Coach Meyer for his immediate actions.”
The four incidents in one week ensured the focus of media days will be exactly where Meyer doesn’t want it — off the field. Fair or not, a coach already under intense national scrutiny will face questions about the program’s culture and if this year’s group has a leadership problem.
Though Meyer has repeatedly praised senior left tackle St. John’s Jesuit graduate Jack Mewhort as a top leader, he has expressed concern about the issue in the past.
Beyond that, the Buckeyes also face the practical matter of replacing a cornerstone piece.
Hyde may still return. Last year, Meyer — who has shown little tolerance during his career for violence against women — kicked Storm Klein off the team but reinstated the linebacker after his domestic violence charge was dismissed.
Still, losing Hyde for any length of time would leave a void. Meyer said he expected the 6-foot, 242-pound senior to be one of the top running backs in the country this season. A mix of bruising size and speed, he ran for 970 yards and 17 touchdowns last year — 30 yards shy of becoming the first 1,000-yard rusher in Meyer’s 11 seasons as a head coach.
Next in line at running back would likely be Rod Smith, underscoring the lack of experience behind Hyde. Smith ran for 215 yards on only 32 carries last year. Another option is moving senior Jordan Hall back to running back. The senior shifted to slot receiver this offseason, but has more than 1,000 career rushing yards.
The Buckeyes also have sophomore Bri’onte Dunn, redshirt freshman Warren Ball, and freshman Ezekiel Elliott.
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