Opinion: To win, but at what costs?

Ryan Pye

Fans of college football have been experiencing an uncomfortable, yet very important to point out, trend going on over the last few years—cover-ups and scandals. Assistants coaches and head coaches in prominent programs across the nation have been brought into the national spotlight for reasons their fan bases want nothing to do with at all. From sexual assault, domestic violence and countless other legal and moral violations, the NCAA and its member schools seem to finally be doing the right thing, for the most part, and cracking down on the individuals responsible for the issues themselves, or for those who cover them up.

Of course there has to always be an outlier, and the recent buzz across the football world, outside of the season finally getting underway, was all about Urban Meyer and what he did, or better yet didn’t, do. Meyer, the head coach of Ohio State, is reported to have had knowledge of his former assistant coach’s, Zach Smith, two domestic violence cases against his then wife. When Meyer was asked about the case during Big 10 Media Days on July 24, even after Smith had been fired from the program, he seemingly pushed the questions to the backburner and gave rather vague and misleading answers.

After a report from Brett McMurphy was published that pointed out some more evidence from the victim, the university, and entire nation, became aware that it was very possible Meyer knew about the multiple alleged incidents against Zach Smith, and did not follow correct contractual, and moral, procedure in addressing the issue.

After being placed on administrative leave by the university, while an investigation was underway, Meyer said in a Twitter post, “I was not adequately prepared to discuss these sensitive personnel issues with the media and I apologize for the way I handled those questions,” in regards to the responses he gave when asked about the incidents in July.

Reporters, analysts, and the everyday fans voiced their opinions on what they thought of the Meyer situation, many of which called for him to be fired immediately, but at the conclusion of the investigation conducted by Ohio State themselves, Meyer still had a job. Though he will serve a three game suspension for the start of the 2018 season, he will remain the head coach of the Buckeyes, which brings up concern to a lot of football fans across the country.

Many people, including myself, feel as though Meyer got off easy just because of his impressive resume as a football coach. Meyer has won three national championships as a head coach in college football, two while at Florida and one at his current position at Ohio State, and it raises the question of whether or not Ohio State was willing to dismiss him in fear of what what happen to their prominent football program.  

The main question that runs through my own mind, as well as countless other football fans, in all of this is: If anyone else, particularly a coach without as much of a winning track record, found himself in this situation, do you really think they would still have their job when it’s all said and done?

Now obviously it’s impossible to predict the outcomes of fictitious similar scenarios, but it just seems like Ohio State is letting Meyer off the hook easy with this one. Granted he didn’t physically commit the crime to begin with, but is someone who helped cover up such horrible events really who you want in charge of an entire team of 18-21 year-olds. I really don’t think so. Just when it seemed like the NCAA, and colleges altogether, were cleaning up the wrongdoings within their programs, a major school like Ohio State seems to choose winning over what’s right.  

And now, three games into the season, Meyer’s suspension is officially over and he can return to the sidelines to coach his team, like nothing ever happened. Whether or not you believe Meyer when he speaks on the situation and denies knowledge of the incidents, it’s almost impossible not to look at the entirety of the situation, including Meyer’s unconvincing statements as well as the investigation and decision by Ohio State themselves, and not at least raise an eyebrow.

Ryan Pye, The George-Anne Sports Reporter, gasports@georgiasouthern.edu