For Ohio State to move forward, stubborn Meyer should show humility

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    Ohio State University President Michael Drake offers words to football coach Urban Meyer, who leaves the stage following a news conference in Columbus on Wednesday.


  • COLUMBUS — Upon further review, Urban Meyer is fortunate the state of Ohio opportunely revised the power structure at its flagship university.

    I believe the new code is in Section 73-8: The president works for the board of trustees and the board works for Urban Meyer.

    Ultimately, Ohio State’s investigation of Ohio State rested in the eye of the beholder.

    If the school was looking for reasons to keep its three-time championship coach, an inquiry that concluded Meyer neither “condoned nor covered up” allegations of domestic abuse gave it clearance.

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    If it was looking to fire him, the full, unsparing 23-page report — conveniently dumped late Wednesday night after Meyer took questions — gave it the green light there, too.

    A blow-by-blow that found Meyer tried to scrub his phone clean, displayed “significant memory issues,” and cast a blind eye to an assistant I wouldn’t trust to mow my lawn made more leaps of faith than a God-fearing high jumper. (Coach X said he was aware Coach Y set the henhouse on fire, but he was told it was to keep the chickens warm on a cool summer night. The committee accepts this explanation.)

    Ohio State surely would have terminated any other employee.

    But we’ll save our sermon on misguided priorities for another time. (Note to Michigan fans: Your school would have done the same thing.) What is done is done.

    Spinning it forward, here’s what I wonder: What has Meyer learned from this?

    If what we’re hearing — and multiple reports corroborate — is true, Meyer fought hard against any further punishment, including the three-game layoff he eventually received.

    Meyer arrived at the board meeting shortly after 9 a.m. He reappeared at the news conference shortly after 9 p.m. looking dazed and dispirited, like he had aged more in a daylong brawl than a two-term president.

    That’s concerning.

    I want to give the Meyer I’ve covered the past seven years — a man I’ve seen do much good off the field, including, whenever asked, for Bowling Green — the benefit of the doubt. But I can’t here. His heel-digging tells us he believes he did little wrong, betraying the pride and arrogance and above-the-rules air that got Ohio State here in the first place.

    My unsolicited two cents: Show some humility.

    Meyer could use this opportunity for reflection. Or, more important, use the platform to cast a light on domestic violence.

    Instead, so far, it appears he has learned little, wondering why he faces a punishment less severe than would an 18-year-old player caught selling his sneakers.

    Meyer should simply be thankful he is 73-8, roughly one victory for — as the report laid bare — every Zach Smith incident on his look-the-other-way watch. The repeated allegations of spousal abuse. The drunk-driving arrest. The strip club on the company dime. The office sex with a subordinate.

    The night Smith was fired, Meyer’s wife, Shelley, texted him: “I am worried about Zach’s response. He drinks a lot and I am just not sure how stable he will be. Afraid he will do something dangerous. It’s obvious he has anger/rage issues.”

    Until that day, Smith had never been punished. Now, Meyer, justly, will be held to account, too. 

    My hope is he uses his time off for good, including a hard look in the mirror.

    Contact David Briggs at dbriggs@theblade.com419-724-6084, or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.