There is no end to this.
From Penn State to Baylor, Michigan State to Ohio State, there is always going to be another school that sells its soul for national relevancy. And apologies for using the singular as per my statement, but really . . one school at a time. Because we do understand the plurality of this scourge is a slow drip that will take us to some other school and involve who knows what in who knows where. And the details will be different, but the mandate will remain the same for the next school that gets caught in the cross-hairs.
Win. At all costs.
Because winning is all that really matters. Sure, academics will be preached and graduation rates for players will be talked about and the ‘student athlete experience’ will be lauded and even when outsiders do uncover all the shit the program pushed aside or swept away, school officials will have their prepared speeches and PR firms on the scene. They will be ‘inconvenienced’ for a while, after which they will re-brand, with promises to do better. And those promises will be so paper thin as to be see-through. Because so long as the embattled program stands by its win at all costs mantra, nothing will change.
Urban Meyer is just the latest big name football coach to come under fire for this win at all costs mentality that pervades his sport. Meyer is really fucking good at what he does. To the tune of a 73-8 record and a National Championship. And he has run a clean program. Well, clean compared to his last stop at Florida University where in his six years as field boss, thirty one football players were arrested. Thirty one.
Those thirty one arrests ranged from misdemeanor assault, felony domestic assault to felony theft and domestic battery. When his star running back Chris Rainey was charged with aggravated stalking for texting his girlfriend that it was “Time to die, bitch!”, he wasn’t kicked out of school. He didn’t lose his scholarship. He was suspended. For four games. Meyer told reporters it was in Rainey’s best interests to keep playing football. He never did expand on what that girl’s best interests were.
Aaron Hernandez was a part of those championship Florida teams. The same Aaron Hernandez who was convicted years later of murdering Odin Lloyd. Which wasn’t Urban’s problem by then seeing as how Hernandez was a member of the New England Patriots when he committed that crime. And never mind that Hernandez was involved in multiple run-ins with the law while at Florida, or that he was a person of interest in several homicides during that time and after. But seriously, Urban did all he could. It wasn’t his fault that Bible study sessions with Aaron at the Meyer household didn’t keep.
In spite of all his successes at Florida, which included a couple national titles, Meyer stepped down after the 2010 season for ‘personal reasons’ which included health concerns and a need to spend more time with his family- according to Meyer. This was a year after an intern on his staff, Zach Smith, had been charged with felony assault for beating on his pregnant wife. Smith’s wife Courtney was pressured by Florida officials not to pursue charges, and we have to assume they asked her nicely.
With a clean bill of health and all that family business out of his system, Meyer returned to the game after a one year hiatus. In his second year as field boss, he hired Zach Smith. So with a clean slate in a new place, Meyer went right back to being an enabler. In the name of winning, at all costs.
No less a college football authority than Paul Finebaum bemoaned the arrogance of the latest college football icon who is busy dying on his own sword. And then Finebaum told the absolute truth of this matter, and too many like it. “This is what big time coaches do . . they enable.
Urban Meyer not only chose a monster to lead young men, he enabled him. Time after time after time. Unless you actually believe Meyer didn’t know about the brutal beat down on Courtney Smith back in 2009. Unless you take Meyer’s word for it, that he had ‘no idea’ his coach kept right on beating her through his tenure as assistant coach at Ohio State, which ended last month. Unless you believe the boss was in the dark while every single member of his coaching staff knew exactly what was going on. Unless you believe that Urban’s wife Shelley- the woman Urban calls his ‘confidante’ because she shares everything with him- didn’t share what she knew about Smith as far back as 2015. Meyer’s standing line reads like so many other big name coaches: I knew nothing, I know nothing . . I’m trying to win games here.
So with all the nuanced language that will dominate this story to its end; with the countless times we will be barraged with the term alleged, and with the cursory observations that will look to engage readers and viewers without actually condemning this football icon, you won’t hear the truest description.
Urban Meyer is a bad guy.
How else to describe someone who values wins and legacy over the safety and well being of women? And why should we believe one word he says at this point?
Urban Meyer, as great as he is and as young as he still is, should never be allowed to step foot on a football field. Ever again. He should never be allowed to lead young men, ever again. Short of criminal prosecution being an option, which it isn’t, we punish Urban Meyer by sending him into retirement for good. He can take his remaining thirty eight million dollars from Ohio State. He can take his wins and his legacy, for whatever that’s worth. He can leave and never come back. As far as I’m concerned, he gets off way too easy.
They all do.