For the next however many minutes that it takes me to write this, I’m going to do something that is becoming nearly impossible for anyone who lives outside of Columbus, Ohio.
I’m going to believe Urban Meyer. Specifically, I’m going to believe that Ohio State’s head football coach did what he believed to be right to help former assistant Zach Smith and his family. In fact, from now until I’m done writing this, I’m going to believe that Meyer is all about helping people who have wandered astray. I’m not going to write him off as a craven egomaniac.
And because I believe this right now, I’m going to draw a pretty reasonable conclusion.
He sucks at helping troubled people.
Meyer has spoken before about the great lengths to which he went to mentor wayward tight end Aaron Hernandez at Florida, one of many Gators who found himself in trouble during Meyer’s tenure in Gainesville. The moral rehabilitation program for Hernandez included daily Bible readings, playing with kids and other things that I guess upright people are supposed to do. There’s also evidence to suggest Meyer’s mentorship included covering for Hernandez when it came to off-the-field transgressions.
We saw how that ended.
We also now know that Meyer employed a train wreck as his receivers coach for the better part of a decade. He passed on multiple chances to can Zach Smith for his workplace behavior at Ohio State, even after athletic director Gene Smith recommended he do just that. In addition to looking past a pile of indiscretions that the head coach did know about, Smith’s office sexcapades, a 2013 drunk driving arrest and more misbehavior somehow escaped Meyer’s detection.
Importantly, the situation with Smith and his wife, Courtney, should have set off plenty of red flags indicating an abusive relationship. For someone who claims to be dedicated to stamping out domestic violence, Meyer’s responses to the information presented to him on multiple occasions demonstrate a woefully inadequate understanding of how best to help Courtney and Zach Smith and their children. (He could start by putting some credence in Courtney’s claims about her husband’s abuse.)
It doesn’t matter if Meyer tried his best with Zach Smith, Hernandez or any of the other people in his orbit who have screwed up. His results stink. Yet, he has never passed up an opportunity to publicize the seriousness with which he takes responsibility for fostering the moral rectitude of his flock.
If that’s really part of his job description, he is incompetent. Even the best of intentions can’t change that.