Sunday, August 26, 2018
Memo to Ohio State "President" Michael Drake: Football Coach Urban Meyer is TOSU President - Not You
University of California Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake was appointed President of The Ohio State University on January 30, 2014. His vision was undoubtedly to take an outstanding university and raise it to greatness. The Chancellor from California did not understand the ethos of Ohio. Football is the state religion of Ohio. A winning Ohio State football coach is God in Ohio. The Buckeye Nation worships at the altar of Meyer. Mere mortals genuflect to him. Urban Meyer has won one national championship in six years in Columbus. More than that he has defeated that school up north, aka Michigan, 6 times in 6 years. Coaches who consistently lost to Michigan, e.g. Earle Bruce and John Cooper, were fired. He is God of Ohio football. He tolerated Zach Smith, a spousal abuser on his staff; he must have had a good reason in his mind, just as he did with Aaron Hernandez and a host of other players earlier at Florida, where he won two national titles. Coach Meyer gave Zach promotions and substantial salary increases over the years despite increasing erratic behavior. His judgment cannot be questioned. He is a winner. President Drake earns $1.09 million a year. Coach Meyer’s is $7.6 million, the highest paid person at Ohio State. Gene Smith, the athletic director, earns almost twice as much as the Ohio State President. Any questions about the state’s priorities? He lied to reporters. Who cares? Coach Meyer said at the Wednesday press conference: “I wish I had done more and I wish I had known more.” He’s still lying about his ignorance. His wife knew and apparently never told him. Yet he asked an administrator how to delete the text messages on his phone after the scandal went public. Coach Meyer knows football – not smart phones. Urban Meyer’s body language at the press conference was one of arrogance and disgust. It was snarly and surly, like “How dare you force me to be here!” It was a damn inconvenience for him to be there as he woodenly read a prepared statement. He was sorry for the Buckeye Nation, but did not mention Courtney Smith, the victim. The assistant coach, Zach Smith, took high school coaches to strip clubs on the university tab. He had sex toys sent to his office, and was sleeping with a secretary in the athletic department. President Drake fired Jonathan Water, the innovative marching band director, on July 24, 2014 for not stopping a history of sexualized misconduct by the band. Jonathan, as a student member of the band, dotted the “I” at the November 21, 1998 Ohio State – Michigan game. The President said: “We expect every member of our community to live up to a common standard of decency and mutual respect and to adhere to university policies.” Not always – apparently a pattern of domestic violence does not count. Jim Tressel, once a great Ohio State coach, was fired for less. Don’t cry for Tressel. The state of Ohio has taken good care of him. The former football coach of Youngstown State is now the President of Youngstown State. This though is Urban Meyer, the legendary Urban Meyer. I don’t know if President Drake has ever met former President James Duderstadt of Michigan, who has been concerned about the relationship of big time athletics to institutions of higher education. His book, Intercollegiate Athletics and the American University: A University President’s Perspective (2003), should be a must read for university presidents. He writes in his preface: “While it is tempting for university presidents to regard intercollegiate athletics as merely a peripheral activity, far removed from the mainstream mission of the university, it is also clear that the unusual public visibility of big-time sports programs can place the university at considerable risk.” Big Ten universities are a shining example of sports debacles affecting university missions of academic excellence. The University of Michigan had a major scandal 15 years when it was discovered a booster was paying many of its star basketball players. More recently Penn State has incurred $237 million in costs as of January 2017 in the Jerry Sandusky Scandal. Esteemed Coach Joe Paterno was shabbily treated by the Board. Michigan State recently agreed to pay $500 million to 332 victims of Dr. Larry Nassar. Ohio State is experiencing revelations about a doctor for the wrestling teams. He died years ago, but the liability lives on. Maryland has a football team scandal on its hands and Rutgers has several players arrested in recent years for a variety of offenses, including credit card fraud in the past week. USC, in the Pac 12, is undergoing a scandal similar to Michigan State and Ohio State. An NCAA basketball scandal is unfolding and may involve Arizona, Auburn, Kansas, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, and USC. Baylor’s football program has been wracked by a series of alleged sexual assaults. Ohio State is appearing to condone domestic violence. I suspect not everyone in the Buckeye Nation is happy about that message. Ohio State’s Board took almost 11 hours Wednesday in deciding Urban Meyer's future – at least for now it’s a three game suspension and several weeks without pay. That won’t even put a dent in his $7.6 million salary. Rumors are that President Drake wanted the coach terminated. Both the coach and athletic director violated a cardinal rule of governance. They sprang a major avoidable, unpleasant surprise on the President, Board, and University without warning. Zach Smith’s lawyer, Brad Koffel, isn’t helping. He issued a statement Wednesday: “Zach Smith married a woman he should not have married. Vengeance against her ex-husband resulted in collateral damage to Urban Meyer, Gene Smith and the Ohio State University.” Yep, blame it on the victim. Urban Meyer finally tweeted an apology Wednesday to Courtney Smith. The odds are he didn’t write it, just as he didn’t write the statement he read Wednesday. The tweet said: “Let me say here and now what I should have said on Wednesday. I sincerely apologize to Courtney Smith and her children for what they have gone through. My words and demeanor on Wednesday did not show how seriously I take relationship violence. This has been a real learning experience for me. I fully intend to use my voice more effectively.” We will see. Penn State disgustingly fired Joe Paterno, stripped him of his victories and removed his statue in front of the stadium eventhough Joe Pa had reported Jerry Sandusky to his superiors. Gene Smith and Urban Meyer should be fired, but this is Urban Meyer. Gene Smith’s contract is up in 2020. He will probably quietly retire. Urban Meyer ????