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College Sports

Jim Ingraham: For THE Ohio State University, Urban Meyer is obviously too big to fail

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    Ohio State University football coach Urban Meyer makes a statement during a news conference in Columbus on Wednesday, in which he was suspended for three games for mishandling domestic violence accusations against one of his assistant coaches.



Nobody botches scandal management worse than THE Ohio State University, whose haughty view of itself never seemed more inappropriate than in the wake of last week’s clumsy handling of l’affaire Urban.

This is not how THE anything should handle THAT.

At the very least, a severe temporary downgrade seems in order. Maybe THE Ohio State University becomes “a state university in Ohio” for the next 12 months? That might do it.

Full disclosure: I am a graduate of this particular state university in Ohio. On behalf of those of us who are, and who love sports but are appalled by, and the handling of, the events of the last few days … weeks … months (stay with me, we’re almost there) … years (same scandal), you have our apologies.

Apologies that aren’t amended.

Unlike the football coach at the center of this current scandal, the coach who got this job after the previous coach lost it due to a previous scandal. This coach has already “apologized” a second time after getting confused, misinformed or (nudge-nudge) forgetful the first time he tried to explain himself at the Big Ten media day.

This coach also, well, you know, sort of, kind of apologized, maybe, to the various groups of commoners he left scratching their shaking heads when he misspoke the first time he tried to speak it right, last week at the “sentencing” news conference at which his suspension was announced.

But that’s how things go sometimes, when you’re trying to outrecruit the world, trying to keep your boot on the throat of that team up north, and trying to win another Big Ten championship and compete for another national championship.

That’s why Urban Meyer gets the big bucks. It’s also why he will keep getting the big bucks once he clears this little three-weeks-without-pay mini-speed bump, which follows that inconvenient little paid administrative leave of absence.

So just hang on, Sloopy. Once those first three games are out of the way, it’s back to business, and paychecks, and football as usual.

Don’t you just hate it when real life elbows its way into his life, THE’s life and our lives? How dare it!

That’s why we love sports. It’s why we care about sports. Because it gives us, if only temporarily, a welcome refuge from mortgage payments, medical bills and orange hair in the White House.

We need sports almost as much as sports need us.

What we don’t need is Urban Meyer’s inexplicable behavior from start to finish during the Zach Smith water main rupture.

As we now know from “The Independent Investigation Summary of Findings,” Meyer had numerous opportunities to do the right thing once coach Smith jumped the tracks, dating all the way back to 2009 as an assistant under Meyer at the University of Florida.

But instead of doing the right thing, Meyer consistently did the wrong thing — or, worse yet, nothing.

This was not, by the way, the finest moment of Ohio State athletic director, Teflon Gene Smith, nor of the investigative group’s summary of findings, which seems to give Meyer the benefit of the doubt in far too many instances in its interpretation of the events.

But even with that, most mystifying of all is the response from Ohio State officials, when presented with the report’s detailed laundry list of Meyer’s hear-no-evil, see-no-evil lack of response to the mounting examples of Smith’s career self-destruction.

The report seems to present a pyramid of evidence for why a coach is being fired — except that one is not. Almost any other coach would be. Just not this one.

Instead, the officials of a state university in Ohio decided that a three-game suspension should cover it. (Gavel) Next case!

It seems unlikely that the Bowling Green Urban Meyer or the Utah Urban Meyer would have painted himself into such a misbegotten corner as did the Ohio State Urban Meyer.

Some would call it stonewalling when Meyer wasn’t fulIy forthcoming with information on the Smith case when questioned at the Big Ten Media Day.

Some would call it insensitive that, when asked during the “sentencing” news conference what he would say to Courtney Smith, the best he could come up with was, “I’m sorry we’re in this situation.”

Most would call it embarrassing that in both cases he released revised, less arrogant comments the following day.


There are no heroes in this story. But there’s no question why it has ended as it has ended.

It’s called star power, and Urban Meyer has it in spades. He knows it. We know it. And the state university in Ohio that employs him knows it.

“Big” wins. “Big” survives, and Meyer is the biggest rock star among college football coaches, maybe ever. Certainly bigger than Jim Tressel, who failed to survive his scandal.

Meyer has survived his.

Elvis lives.

Contact Jim Ingraham at (440) 329-7135 or Follow him on twitter @Jim_Ingraham.

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