Opinion: The fall of Urban Meyer leads to the rise of citizen journalism

McClain Baxley

In a climate where the media is being cast as the enemy, the Urban Meyer investigation is another example of the importance and strong will of journalism.

Several weeks ago, Brett McMurphy broke the news about his findings in former Ohio State assistant football coach Zach Smith’s domestic abuse of his wife.

McMurphy, a journalist who was laid off by ESPN last year during their mass layoff, wasn’t signed with any media outlet and posted a well-written, AP-style article on his personal Facebook page.

This journalist and tycoon of breaking news in the college football realm investigated and reported on a serious issue, casting a dark shadow on a man once idolized for his prestige on the sideline. McMurphy unveiled allegations of Meyer having knowledge of Smith’s abuse and not reporting it, which isn’t in compliance with NCAA Title IX laws.

The Buckeyes’ head coach was suspended a mere three games for his inability to come forward and confess to what he knew Smith’s domestic abuse of his wife, Courtney Smith.

Three games. Three non-conference, meaningless, low-competition games. He won’t be paid for those three weeks, but Meyer is still the proprietor of a contract that will pay him $5.7 million in 2018.

If the scene wasn’t so heavy, the Board of Trustees’ decision would be laughable.

This whole investigation and “this situation,” as Meyer pathetically called it, was uncovered by a journalist that had been laid off by one of the biggest sports media outlets in the world just a year before. A citizen journalist who, despite criticism from other mediums and Buckeye Nation trying to negate everything he said, reported the truth in a time where the truth can be a smokescreen.

It’s not news that journalism is under attack. President Trump has tried to make the media and those who deliver “fake news” the villain in America countless times. There’s now a negative dialogue toward all kinds of media on all sides of the political spectrum. 

The news here is that the resilience of the journalist will not be denied. We see this with McMurphy and Meyer. We saw it with Larry Nassar. We saw it with Jerry Sandusky. And we will continue to see journalists take down prominent sports figures.

The truth is out there, and as long as there are journalists and people in the media who seek to find and deliver the facts, the truth will prevail.

McClain Baxley, The George-Anne Sports Editor, gasports@georgiasouthern.edu