Urban Meyer’s mouth moved and words emerged. Fact. Beyond that, the most basic question can be answered only subjectively: Do you believe him?

Either you buy Meyer’s explanations provided during Monday’s news conference — the first time the Ohio State football coach has met the media since his three-game suspension was announced on Aug. 22 — or you don’t. The two camps could not be more in conflict if they bivouacked at Gettysburg.

I mostly fall into the “believe” camp, but not entirely. For instance, I believe Meyer when he says he abhors domestic violence. But I remain skeptical that Meyer’s wife, Shelley, did not share with him some version of her text exchange with Courtney Smith concerning domestic-abuse allegations against former OSU assistant Zach Smith.

Video: Meyer answers tough questions

Meyer spoke passionately about being taught from an early age to respect women. He is not enough of a gifted actor to fake such emotion. Plus, he has two daughters, which means he would need to be culturally blind to ignore the issues confronting many women in this day and age. Even if he was clueless at one point, his daughters would have educated him.

“I made a mistake, not in domestic violence. Where I made a mistake was in not asking enough questions, and in a complete reliance on law enforcement,” Meyer said in explaining why he did not delve deeper into the Smiths’ marriage issues.

Do you believe him?

Urban and Shelley Meyer have an extremely close relationship. They both were deeply involved in helping the Smiths. But Meyer said Shelley never informed him of her text-message correspondence with Courtney Smith?

“She never shared text messages with me,” he said.

Do you believe him?

The 23-page summary of the university’s investigative report included a paragraph about whether Meyer deleted text messages and/or changed the message history settings after hearing that his phone was subject to open-records requests. Investigators said they did not know whether Meyer deleted messages, but they said he at least discussed it with director of football operations Brian Voltolini.

Meyer pushed back against those findings.

“With all due respect to that report … I don’t recall exactly any conversations about that,” he said, adding that he never deleted a message or changed the settings on his phone.

Do you believe him? And does it matter? Unfortunately, many do not care if Meyer told the truth. His job is to win games, they figure, not play the part of marriage counselor.

But Meyer won’t allow himself that “out.” He stressed that part of his job is to care about his players and staff. He emphasized that he gave Zach Smith second, third and fourth chances because to fire him would have created extra hardship for Courtney and her two children. Finally, he simply had to pull the plug — for the good of the program.

Do you believe him?

I asked Meyer if too much is expected from a college coach, whether it was fair to require him to monitor the personal behavior of his assistant coaches.

“At high-profile football programs, that’s the way it is,” he said. “Do I think it’s fair? No one forced me to be a head coach.”

No one forced him to keep Zach Smith on staff, either. It was Meyer’s choice, and now he rues his decision to hire the troubled assistant in the first place.

“In hindsight, now I look back with all these other issues that took place during that time period, I did not hire the right guy,” he said.

You best believe him on that one.

roller@dispatch.com

@rollerCD