We are within days of knowing the facts gathered by the six-person committee investigating the extent of knowledge Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer had regarding domestic-abuse allegations against former OSU assistant coach Zach Smith.
The university-stated 14-day time frame to complete the inquiry ends Monday. It can’t come soon enough.
Over the past two weeks, my email inbox has been inundated with serial speculation, conspiracy theories, victim-shaming, #MeToo Movement lobbying and anti-media vitriol.
The “fake news” charges I can handle; it comes with the territory, even if the territory increasingly feels foreign. We’ve gone from shooting the messenger to full firing squad.
It’s the other anger and attack-dog mentality, on both sides and involving multiple issues, that makes me go, “Hmm.” Example: Meyer cops to lying to the media, and a large segment of Buckeye Nation responds, not with “can we trust him?” but with “how dare the media — or anyone — question his truthfulness?”
People, he admitted to fibbing. Whether he determined to come clean on his own, was urged to do so by his legal team or encouraged by Ohio State to set the record straight, Meyer put a stake through any accusation of fake news by laying out the facts himself. I saw no ventriloquist lurking in the background. He said it. He did it.
But Meyer’s integrity is not the real issue here, at least not for me. Everyone succumbs to moments of weakness, and just because a coach screws up his story does not make him a pathological liar.
According to a certain segment of Buckeye Nation, that label is reserved for Courtney Smith, ex-wife of Zach Smith, who was an assistant coach until Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith fired him three weeks ago.
We’re still not certain why he was fired, other than the football program, and by extension the university, could no longer afford to be affiliated with a coach who is alleged to have engaged in domestic violence multiple times.
Keeping Smith on staff was a “bad public relations look,” especially given Meyer’s core value of “respecting women.” Of course, another Meyer core value is “No lying.” But, hey, many fans don’t consider lying to the media to really be lying. Nothing to see here.
And don’t forget the agendas being advanced by both friends and enemies of Ohio State and Meyer. Or maybe they are neither friend nor enemy but neutral parties seeing an opportunity to promote their cause.
Regardless, the conversations have become caustic. Concerning Courtney Smith, there is considerable rebellion against a supposed politically correct mindset that automatically assigns victimhood to any woman involved in a domestic dispute. More than a few of my emails showed disgust for the media blindly taking the side of “the wife,” and also for falling for her story.
“Wait for the facts to come out,” one reader scolded, before guaranteeing to me that Courtney Smith was lying. So much for waiting for the facts.
With the emergence of the #MeToo Movement, victim-shaming has become a cultural cardinal sin — which is why I doubt Ohio State ever publicly questions the validity of Courtney Smith’s statements — but that has not stopped some observers of this mess from lamenting what they see as heightened unfairness against men.
I don’t know if Courtney Smith is concocting stories. I don’t know if Zach Smith is telling the truth. I don’t know, and neither do you. Only Zach and Courtney know for sure, and currently it’s a he-said, she-said stalemate.
I’m not sure if that stalemate ever gets broken, but I know I am ready for facts to emerge. The sooner the better.