Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is now 0-2 in news conferences, and that might be the only record that counts.
The first time, at Big Ten media days, he lied.
The second time?
Meyer stood in front of a room full of reporters and television cameras Wednesday night, taking center stage in what was the biggest story in sports, and apologized more to “Buckeye Nation” than he did to Courtney Smith.
It’s not just what Meyer said or the adolescent, bumbling way in which he delivered it. It’s what he didn’t say — starting with her name.
Courtney Smith, the woman who sent Meyer’s wife text messages of bruises she said she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband, Zach Smith, an Ohio State assistant coach. Courtney Smith, who filed an order of protection against Zach Smith on July 20. Courtney Smith — not Meyer, who only played the victim on TV.
Meyer was suspended for three games. Courtney Smith says she suffered through years of domestic disputes that are documented in police reports. According to the OSU Summary of Findings, Meyer “knew of Courtney Smith’s domestic violence complaints against Zach Smith through his knowledge of the 2015-2016 law enforcement investigation.”
Meyer said he was not aware of his wife’s text messages at the time. As a wife, I don’t believe this for one second. The investigators didn’t either: “Given the closeness of their relationship and Shelley’s concerns, we believe it is likely that Shelley and Urban Meyer had at least some communication about these allegations in late 2015 and were concerned about them, although both had doubts about the credibility of Courtney’s claims …”
Instead of acknowledging Courtney Smith, Meyer spoke without sincere emotion, seemingly without genuine remorse about anything. He sped through a prepared statement like a teenager being forced to apologize to his little brother.
Meyer had an opportunity on Wednesday night to redeem himself, to show that his “core value” of “TREAT WOMEN WITH RESPECT” is more than just capital letters on a wall in a locker room. Instead, when asked what he had to say to Courtney Smith, Meyer answered: “Well, I have a message for everyone involved in this: I’m sorry that we’re in this situation, and, I’m just sorry we’re in this situation.”
I’m sorry for Courtney Smith. I’m sorry that Meyer and his boss, athletic director Gene Smith, have lost all perspective on the world that is outside of Buckeye Nation.
Gene Smith, a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee, said the “greatest pain” he feels is for the people he serves every day.
“The 565 employees I go to work with every day, the thousand-plus student-athletes we work with every day,” he said, “and, of course, all of Buckeye Nation and this institution.”
Buckeye Nation. The loyal fans who pay for season tickets. The boosters who write the checks. The parents and players and recruits who would give anything to be a part of it all.
Not Courtney Smith, who can’t seem to escape it.
The three-game suspension can and will be debated, but what was painfully clear Wednesday night was that Meyer still doesn’t understand the weight of what has been alleged against him.
When asked whether he thought he should have been suspended, Meyer’s response gave the impression that he had pressed a button to spit out the answer: “I trust and support our president.” Twice.
Ohio State will start its season against Oregon State, Rutgers and TCU. There’s a very good chance that even with Meyer suspended, the Buckeyes will go 3-0 in those games.
Meyer, though, is 0-2 — a record in which even Buckeye Nation should be disappointed.