Ohio State employs upward of 90 coaches, including 14 in football alone. It’s not enough. The university needs to hire at least one more — a news conference coach — because the mess that transpired Wednesday night achieved the opposite of what the university intended.
Ohio State wanted closure, to put talk of Urban Meyer and Gene Smith’s suspensions in the rearview mirror. Instead, in part because of a public-relations botch job, talk continues. And it is LOUD.
I would say heads should roll, but that would require another news conference, which would lead to another screw-up and more heads rolling. We’ve got enough unemployment as it is. Maybe it’s simply Ohio State’s nature to fail these things. Remember Gordon “I'm just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me” Gee?
Regardless, the Meyer/Smith suspension topic is just getting started. Ohio State made sure of it by deciding through some combination of incompetence and arrogance not only to hold an incredibly important 34-minute news conference at 8:50 p.m. but to do so before releasing the 23-page investigative report, which meant no questioning of Meyer, Smith and OSU president Michael V. Drake about crucial details.
The report’s contents apparently were deemed too much for the media to digest in such a short time. Nonsense. The document was perfectly clear and concise.
A few questions that could have been asked had the report been made available beforehand, instead of more than an hour later:
“Urban, before hiring Zach Smith in 2011 why did you not disclose to Gene Smith the allegations of domestic abuse brought by Courtney Smith against her husband in 2009?”
“Urban, about those deleted text messages …”
“Gene, why was the 2015 alleged domestic violence incident involving Zach Smith not turned over to Compliance?”
Instead, with no report to facilitate a more-complete truth-finding mission, Meyer, Smith and Drake fielded questions based mostly on the S word — speculation.
Members of the media are the main mouthpiece through which Ohio State speaks to the public. By trying to outsmart us with the late release of a report that had been completed well before the news conference, it denied fans — and taxpayers — from being better informed about their beloved football program, which operates out of a publicly operated state institution.
>> Read more: Complete coverage at buckeyextra.com/urbanmeyer
If that sounds too high and mighty, consider that without answers specific to the report, questions will keep coming. You can forget a five-day news cycle turnover on this one. Unless Ohio State makes Meyer, Smith and Drake immediately available for further questioning, you might as well air drop fire retardant over the university, because OSU is going to get lit up.
It’s already happening. Critics are cracking the school for being insensitive to domestic violence. Meyer was taking heat, particularly for his lackluster response when asked what message he had for Courtney Smith, so much so that he issued an apology to her on Friday.
For $7 million a year, he has to do better. Drake’s energy level wasn’t much better. Only Smith seemed “with it,” but he is smooth that way. Some think overly so.
The proper tone would have been for the trio to speak to the issue of domestic violence as sincerely and eloquently as possible.
That brings us to the other problem with the news conference. By itself, the start time was not a huge deal. But it followed 10 hours of meetings involving Drake, the board of trustees and at some point Meyer, which had to take a mental and emotional toll. The effect was a zombie performance. Ohio State instead should have held a Thursday news conference, when minds would have been fresher, leading to more clear and compassionate answers.
The wrong decision was made. Ohio State is paying for it and will continue to do so. There is no expiration date on questions seeking answers.