He's back, and so are questions for Meyer

Rob Oller
In this April 14 photo, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer watches the NCAA college football team's spring game at Ohio Stadium. [File photo]

Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. pictured Urban Meyer at home putting up his dukes Saturday during a 40-28 win against TCU.

“I know coach Meyer is pretty excited,” Haskins told after throwing for 344 yards and two touchdowns against the Horned Frogs. “I know he’s probably doing his little shadow boxing in the living room right now.”

Or maybe the coach was practicing for Monday, when he meets with the collective media for the first time since the poorly executed Aug. 22 news conference announcing his three-game suspension that ended Saturday.

Complete coverage: Investigation into Urban Meyer’s handling of domestic violence allegations involving former assistant coach Zach Smith

Meyer escaped answering the toughest questions nearly a month ago because the investigative committee report detailing his miscues was released only after the news conference had ended. Since then, he tweeted an apology to Courtney Smith and her children but mostly has gone underground. Finally, on Sunday, he resurfaced in a taped sit-down interview with Tom Rinaldi of ESPN.

The idea behind approving the interview undoubtedly was to get ahead of the hullabaloo before Monday’s news conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, where a handful of national writers are expected to join the regular press corps.

Rinaldi did not go especially easy on Meyer, but questions remain. Part II of the interview is scheduled to run Monday morning. We shall see what further questions get asked and addressed. Regardless, Meyer will face a larger and less-sterile media situation at the WHAC.

Here's some of what he can expect:

• Was Meyer aware that Ohio State wanted his phone to access texts that may have shed more light on the Smith situation? Did he delete texts, and if so was it done to eliminate potentially incriminating evidence?

The possibility that Meyer intentionally eliminated texts one week after Ohio State’s student newspaper, The Lantern, made open-record requests to access Meyer’s phone is among the saga’s more serious and mysterious angles.

• How does Meyer’s memory loss, referenced in the report, affect how he managed former assistant Zach Smith? Also, how does his inability to remember important details influence his coaching?

Meyer needs to expound on the committee’s finding that he suffers from memory loss that may be connected to the use of medication for an unspecified ailment.

• Meyer admitted he was not completely truthful and accurate in the way he answered questions at Big Ten media days, but he also insists — and the report backs him up — that he did not lie to the media. How does he explain the difference between lying and not telling the truth? Moving forward, given fuzzy forthrightness, how does he think his answers should be judged for reliability?

Meyer also needs to explain the thought process that went into his media day answers. What did he know about Zach Smith’s involvement in the 2015 domestic violence allegation? Why did he not take the advice of Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith to speak to the media in generalities more than specifics?

• Knowing that Courtney Smith accused her husband of assault in 2009, when Meyer coached at Florida and Smith was an assistant there, why did he hire Zach at Ohio State in late 2011? Also, why did Meyer never tell Gene Smith about Zach Smith’s past, including in 2015 when the other abuse allegation arose?

Meyer told Rinaldi it was “a bad decision” to hire Smith in 2011. But he had legitimate cause to fire Smith several times after that. Even beyond the allegations of domestic violence, Smith showed up late to meetings and practices. His struggles with addiction to pain medicine included him leaving prematurely from a drug-treatment center. And he didn't tell Meyer he left early.

Other questions remain, some dealing with Meyer’s leadership. Did he not think that giving Zach Smith preferential treatment would embitter other assistants who were not so fortunate to receive such generosity of grace?

And, finally, there are some of the most difficult questions of all: Does Meyer believe Courtney Smith’s allegations of domestic violence are well-founded? If not, why? Is she credible? Likewise, is Zach Smith to be believed?

There’s a decent chance things will get personal. Gloves up, Urban. This bout could last a few rounds.


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