On the Urban Meyer and Ohio State Disgrace

Anyone who was familiar with Urban Meyer’s tenure with the Florida Gators knew that he was a liar who cared about winning football games more than he cared about anything else in his life. The most grating thing about Meyer has never been his wins, it’s his insistence that he was doing it the right way, that he was a saint in a sea of of college football sinners.

From the moment Meyer said he would only recruit the top 1% of the 1% of players to represent Florida on and off the field — a statement that was shortly followed by 31 player arrests, including the protection of Aaron Hernandez, who may well have shot people just off campus after a bar brawl, and later, you know, became a serial killer — it was clear that the only way you could be certain Urban Meyer was lying was if his lips were moving.

He was, and has long been, a hypocrite of the highest level, maybe the highest in the modern history of college athletics.

So the series of Urban Meyer lies embedded in the 23 page investigation — which we will discuss below and you should certainly read — don’t really come as a surprise. As Meyer’s own father said, a tiger doesn’t change his stripes. Meyer is, and has always been, a congenital liar who will do whatever is necessary to win college football games.

So what shocked me wasn’t Meyer’s lies, we’ve grown used to them, it was this — Ohio State’s board of trustees exists to ensure the best decisions are made on behalf of the university. The board of trustees is supposed to always look out for the university and not allow the decisions of any one individual or groups of individuals to detract from the university’s mission.

It may be great to beat Michigan in 2018 or even win a national title in football, but ultimately winning football games won’t matter much in fifty or a hundred years. Every university will endure far longer than any football team, coach or player. That’s why a board of trustees exists, to ensure a university doesn’t lose sight of its role in society. The board of trustees is there to ensure no one person, no matter how powerful, subverts the role of the university as a whole.

With its decision yesterday Ohio State’s board of trustees sent an incontrovertible message — Urban Meyer is bigger than Ohio State and the university can’t endure without his services. That’s the only conclusion I could draw for how any member of the board of trustees — the people who owe their position to their judgment on behalf of the school — could have read the 23 page investigative report and decided at the end of that report that Urban Meyer should still be the head football coach of Ohio State University.

It’s completely inexcusable.

Ohio State made its priorities clear, beat Michigan and most other Big Ten teams and nothing else matters.

So let’s dive into this story and discuss what we learned.

In the meantime, here’s my Periscope reaction.

1. Let’s call this what it was, the worst press conference in modern day college athletics history.

The lies were legion and indefensible.

Urban Meyer read a statement like he was a hostage in a proof of life video.

The media, which, to be honest, hadn’t been able to read this entire report, didn’t distinguish itself with aggressive question. (One of the diehard Buckeye fans masquerading as a member of the media actually asked Urban Meyer what his message for the team would be).

It began bad and went downhill in a hurry.

The spokesperson for the investigation actually uttered this phrase at the press conference, which sums up how valueless this report actually was: “While those denials (at Big Ten Media Days) were plainly not accurate, Coach Meyer did not in our view deliberately lie.”

Read that sentence again.

So Urban Meyer lied, but he didn’t intend to lie. This, mind you, is the reasoned opinion of the six members of the investigative committee.

What’s remarkable about this statement is Meyer lies throughout the investigative committee’s report. So why in the world does the investigative committee believe Meyer didn’t lie on purpose at Big Ten Media Days? (And is that distinction remotely believable or that important here? Of course not.) If anything, the most consistent part of Meyer’s character is his willingness to tell lies whenever necessary to protect himself.

The reason why the committee reached this strangled conclusion was simple — because Ohio State created this committee to give the appearance of independence, when in reality the committee’s conclusion was predetermined — Ohio State wanted this committee to give them the okay to retain Urban Meyer no matter how damning the evidence was that he should be fired.

The truth didn’t matter.

This “independent” committee should be ashamed of itself. Those of us who knew Urban Meyer was a congenital liar were not surprised by the lies he told in this report; what surprised us was that a committee charged with pursuing the truth could be made up of so many dishonest and untrustworthy people as well.

Every single member of this committee should be ashamed of him or herself and wear this report as a dark stain on their careers.

I wouldn’t trust any of them to do any job of any importance for the rest of their careers.

Because when they were called upon to speak truth to power and render an impartial and honest verdict, they failed. Hell, they might as well have been leading the Urban Meyer chant at the disastrous campus rally a couple of weeks ago.

2. Urban Meyer protected Zach Smith despite a litany of wrongdoings that would have gotten anyone else fired.

Here is what the report found Zach Smith was responsible for:

Zach Smith also had a DUI arrest and an arrest for domestic violence.

Other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?

On top of that, the report also makes clear athletic director Gene Smith suggested Urban Meyer fire Zach Smith in 2016, but Meyer refused.

If Meyer had just listened to his “boss” none of this mess would have ever ensued.

Which means the biggest remaining question is this: why in the world did Urban Meyer continue to employ anyone with this many red flags in his past? Why did he reject his bosses suggestion that he fire Zach Smith? And why would he lie on Smith’s behalf?

3. Meyer attempted to destroy text messages the moment the Bret McMurphy story went public.

Brian Voltolini, an Ohio State employee, and Urban Meyer “discussed at that time (the release of the McMurphy story) whether the media could get access to Coach Meyer’s phone, and specifically how to adjust the settings on Meyer’s phone so that text messages older than one year would be deleted.”

Good lord.

So one of the first things Urban Meyer wanted to do when he saw this story break was to ensure that his old text messages weren’t discoverable?

This is clear evidence of guilt. If he’d done nothing wrong, wouldn’t Meyer’s first thought have been to ensure that all the messages were preserved?

The result? Investigators, go figure, were unable to find any text messages on Urban Meyer’s phone that were more than a year old.


4. Meyer never told his boss, Gene Smith, about Zach Smith’s 2009 arrest for domestic violence. 

The Ohio State background check didn’t turn up evidence of this arrest either.

Failing to tell Ohio State officials about Zach Smith’s arrest in 2009 is problematic, but not mentioning it in 2015 when both Smith and Meyer knew that Zach Smith was being investigated for another case of domestic violence is, I believe, a fireable offense.

Meyer’s failure to tell Gene Smith, his boss, about this prior incident completely changed the way Smith responded to this incident. Rather than view these allegations against Zach Smith as the first time a domestic violence issue had arisen, is there any way Smith would have allowed Zach Smith to remain on the coaching staff if he’d known Smith had previously been arrested for domestic violence? I find that hard to believe.

Especially since Gene Smith was already suggesting Meyer fire Zach Smith in 2016 even without this knowledge.

Letting Gene Smith know about Zach Smith’s 2009 arrest was the most integral and important detail Meyer could have shared with his boss.

Instead, Meyer kept quiet.

Again, this is a fireable offense standing alone. Ohio State could have fired Meyer for this and owed him no payout for his contract. A committee charged with finding the truth would have focused on this detail. Instead, their report spent less than 100 words total on this issue.

5. Bret McMurphy posted the original police report showing Zach Smith had been marked arrested back in 2015.

As you can see from this police report, the box for arrest is checked.

This should finally put to rest the tinfoil hat component of the Ohio State fan base which has obsessively focused on this detail since McMurphy’s initial report.

Later the police department changed the form to remove the arrest notation.

So why in the world did the police later revise the police report and remove the arrest checkmark? They’ve never provided an answer that makes sense.

This certainly looks like a cover up.

Since Zach Smith was never arrested or charged with a crime, Urban Meyer has been able to say over and over again that Smith’s failure to be arrested or charged with a crime was why he didn’t lose his job.

Even Urban Meyer would have had a hard time explaining why he employed an assistant coach who had been arrested for domestic violence in two different states.

6. Urban Meyer lied about his memory being so bad he couldn’t remember details of alleged incidents.

Of course Urban has previously bragged about how good his memory is.

And think about this for a moment — if Urban Meyer’s memory is this bad, isn’t it remarkable that his first thought upon reading Brett McMurphy’s story was to try and make sure his old text messages weren’t discoverable?

Wow, that’s an awfully good memory.

Furthermore, if Meyer really can’t believe things from three years ago, how is he being paid to make decisions on a football field in high pressure situations? How can he even remember the team’s plays?

The truth of the matter is this, everyone involved in writing this part of the report should be ashamed of themselves and every member of Ohio State’s board of trustees should as well.

This memory excuse is a blatant lie.

And it wasn’t the only clear lie in the report.

8. Urban Meyer lied about meeting with Courtney Smith back in 2009 in Gainesville in the wake of Smith’s first arrest.

Even Zach Smith and Courtney Smith, who disagree on virtually everything, agree that Courtney Smith never met with Urban Meyer.

Courtney Smith also never changed her story.

Meyer, once more, is caught in a huge lie here.

9. Meyer lied, I believe, about whether or not he’d seen the text messages from Courtney Smith to his wife as wlel.

We don’t know for sure about this because Meyer deleted all his old text messages, but one text message was uncovered from Shelley to Urban Meyer.

Think about this, if Shelley Meyer, a wife who Urban Meyer claimed he discussed everything with, never told him about these texts she’d received — as she told Courtney she was doing in the texts — then she willfully kept allegations of domestic violence silent.

We should be surprised that Urban Meyer would even tell lies about his wife, but, sadly, that’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from Meyer and everyone else who protects him from the consequences of his actions.

10. Meyer was asked what message he’d have for Courtney Smith near the end of the press conference and offered this chilling response:

“I’m sorry we’re in this situation.”

Holy hell.

Even after a three week suspension, Meyer couldn’t even bother to lie the one time he needed to lie. What’s more, he compared his own situation — busted for lying — to a woman who had been a multi-year victim of domestic abuse.

In so doing, Meyer provided the one honest moment from a thoroughly dishonest affair — the truth was this Meyer never cared about Courtney Smith because he didn’t believe she impacted whether he won football games or not.

In that, he was pretty much correct.

Meyer knew if he won enough games, no one at Ohio State would ever hold him accountable for all his lies, no matter how substantial those lies might have become.

Yesterday we found out that was true — no one was willing to stand up to Urban Meyer on the Ohio State Board of Trustees and no one on the investigative committee was either.

The result?

Urban Liar won again.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.