Grimes story latest twist in weird season

Rob Oller
roller@dispatch.com
Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer, Athletic Director Gene Smith and President Michael Drake speak at a press conference on Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at the Longaberger Alumni House. The press conference was to announce the punishments of Meyer and A.D. Smith in the handling of the Zach Smith situation. [Eric Albrecht/Dispatch]

Standing in a loading dock for 10 hours gives a guy plenty of time to think.

That was me and about 50 other members of the media on Aug. 22, waiting outside the Longaberger Alumni House for word on whether Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer would be … pardoned? Suspended? Fired?

Staked out on that loading dock, waiting for the university board of trustees to reach a decision, we concluded it already would go down as one of the weirder seasons in OSU history. I remember pondering the peculiarity of it all, not to mention the seriousness: Sex toys delivered to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Lewd photos taken in the White House. Allegations of domestic violence. Deleted text messages.

>> Video: Ryan Day, Greg Schiano on Buckeyes rising above latest distraction

And of course the myriad conspiracy theories that accompany such things: What did Meyer know about former assistant coach Zach Smith, whom he fired in July? What does Zach Smith know about Meyer? What did athletic director Gene Smith know about both? What did Shelley Meyer know about any of it? And might @spinnershells someday tweet about it?

By the way, what is the difference between an inadvertent and intentional lie?

As that August morning bled into afternoon, then leaked into evening and darkness, what became clear was if — when? — they make a movie about this season, it will be scripted by Quentin Tarantino, directed by the Coen brothers and produced by Oliver Stone.

We found out that night during a poorly conceived and executed news conference that during a 2014 recruiting trip, Zach Smith visited a Florida strip club with another OSU assistant coach. Ohio State later “confirmed” — cough, cough — that current Texas coach Tom Herman was the other assistant.

We learned that Meyer has memory issues, then noted the irony: This will be a season — complete with a three-game suspension — he never forgets.

Such was the circus at the time, when we thought we had seen it all. Silly us. More was coming. Nick Bosa tore core muscles against TCU, an injury that required surgery and led to the junior defensive end’s decision to leave the team and focus on the NFL draft rather than wait to see whether he might be able to return if the Buckeyes made the College Football Playoff.

Then came Meyer’s headaches in games and during news conferences, creating speculation that he might resign sooner than later. The arachnoid cyst in his head causes discomfort, which he either cannot or chooses not to hide from the media.

Surely, the season could not get any stranger than to watch Meyer rub his head and wince while answering questions.

But it did. On Sunday, Zach Smith went on a scathing Twitter rant, accusing Herman of infidelity. And on Tuesday Brett McMurphy dug his thorn deeper in Ohio State’s side.

McMurphy is a former ESPN college football writer, now employed by the Stadium Network, who first reported on the domestic abuse allegations involving Zach and Courtney Smith.

On Tuesday, McMurphy reported that Meyer helped “cover up a racially-charged practice altercation” in 2017 involving Zach Smith and former Buckeyes receiver Trevon Grimes. Ohio State president Michael V. Drake, Gene Smith and current and former OSU players have come out in support of Meyer by rebutting the allegations.

“I witness (sic) the whole altercation and this didn’t happen,” Ohio State receiver Johnnie Dixon tweeted, a response to McMurphy reporting that Zach Smith used the N-word while getting in Grimes’ face at practice.

On the Big Ten media teleconference Tuesday, Meyer described McMurphy’s account as “preposterous. … I don’t know how you accuse people of something that did not happen.”

McMurphy’s work here is a journalistic head-scratcher; he lays out a scenario based on sources he discredits later in the same story. But regardless of your opinion on the reporting, Meyer and Ohio State must deal with another negative, another potential distraction, another oddity in a bizarre season that keeps going.

Wonder what Michigan week will bring?

roller@dispatch.com

@rollerCD

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