Their prolonged silence ended dramatically and almost simultaneously Friday afternoon.

In a 492-word statement on Twitter, Urban Meyer admitted that he had “failed on many … fronts” when he said falsely in Chicago on July 24 that he knew nothing about the 2015 domestic abuse accusations against Zach Smith, an assistant on his football coaching staff at Ohio State University.

Meanwhile, Smith began a series of interviews, including with The Dispatch, that delved into the allegations by his ex-wife, Courtney, and Meyer’s response to them. The timing was coincidental, said Smith’s attorney, Bradley Koffel.

The former wide receivers coach, who was fired on July 23, and the embattled head coach were defending their actions and likely trying to restore their damaged reputations. But plenty of questions remain, for them and others. Meyer’s chances of being reinstated from his paid administrative leave  will depend on the answers.

A six-person investigative committee appointed by OSU’s board of trustees and including three trustees will determine his future, but public opinion also could be a factor.

By acknowledging that he lied about not knowing in 2015 about the accusations that year, Meyer may be hoping that deceiving the media, and thus Ohio State fans, will be considered a forgivable mistake. But for someone as experienced with the media as Meyer is, his claim to have been caught off-guard by questions about Zach Smith might be hard for some people to believe.

In his Twitter message, Meyer said he followed all protocols at the time regarding the 2015 allegations, but he did not specify what action he took. He must hope that the evidence confirms that he acted properly.

Smith’s explanation of the timeline and his decision not to inform Meyer in 2015 might help that cause. Smith said he was on a recruiting visit when athletic director Gene Smith called him following a call from the Powell police department and told him to return to Columbus.

If that’s the case, then Meyer wouldn’t have had to tell the athletic director because he would already have known. Which raises the question, given that Meyer has been placed on administrative leave, should Gene Smith also be on leave during the university's investigation?

>> Read full coverage of the Urban Meyer situation

That timeline also might help Meyer’s wife, Shelley, a part-time OSU employee whom Courtney Smith said she told about the alleged abuse.

Zach Smith said Meyer sternly told him that if he did hit Courtney, he would be fired. But it's unclear whether any other actions were taken by Meyer, Gene Smith or anyone else at Ohio State.

Zach Smith does not appear to have been disciplined at the time. His performance reviews, obtained by The Dispatch, make no mention of the accusation or any actions taken as a result.

He said he was given only a vague reason for his dismissal when it did happen, but he understood that the firestorm about the accusations made his staying problematic.

Other key figures have remained mostly quiet. Gene Smith declined a request for comment, saying he didn’t want to talk while the investigation is pending. Ohio State President Michael V. Drake also has been silent.

With the exception of her interviews with independent college football reporter Brett McMurphy and, so has Courtney Smith, as well as those close to her. It is not known whether Ohio State officials tried to talk with her in 2015 or recently.

The Powell police department, which provided no information on the 2015 accusations until the day Meyer spoke in Chicago, still has not released some documents regarding the dispute between the Smiths that led to Zach Smith's firing.

No one on the investigative committee has spoken publicly. The timetable for their inquiry is unknown, as is the list of people to be questioned.

While the investigation goes on, so do the days on the calendar. Ohio State’s opener against Oregon State is Sept. 1. The team had its first preseason practice Friday with Ryan Day as acting head coach. Day joined the OSU staff last season and is one of the team's offensive coordinators.

Ohio State has imposed a media blackout of the team. All practices are closed for the time being. There have been no interviews with coaches, let alone players, for a program that has a passionate following.

So both on and off the field, questions outnumber answers.