Bread and Circuses

We Love Urban

I get it.

The ongoing Urban Meyer investigation is nothing more than a PR campaign. When Ohio State officials issued a statement in which they promised a decision within “fourteen days”, it meant they plan on bringing him back, unless more damning evidence comes out before then.

So of course, a hundred or so clueless individuals showed up for a rally in support of Coach Meyer last Monday. And so I composed a letter to them. To the vast majority of Ohio State peeps who get it, please understand that I bear no ill will to you, your school or your sports programs. This is for the small minority of fools whose priorities should be questioned, not simply by yours truly, but by anyone who knows them.

Dear Ralliers,

I’m writing to you on behalf of all the battered women out there who have more important things to do than post a blog. Important things, like survive. They don’t have time to ask Urban Meyer why he would aid and abet a known abuser over all these years. They don’t have time to ask why you thought it was a good idea to hold a rally for someone like Urban Meyer.


Thing is, you were probably quick to slam Penn State. Michigan State too. And you were right on both counts, of course. Because the respective administrations of those two schools needed to be held accountable for horrific cover-ups. Problem is, your indignation seems to have been more about conference affiliation- The Lions and Spartans are Big Ten rivals- than about concern for the victims.

Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t expecting much from your small (thankfully) contingent. And yet, you managed to give us so much less anyway. Because wins and conference titles and playoff appearances are what matter most to you. Because you let us know that when you held a rally for a coach who is still employed because he can supply those things to your fan base.

If Urban Meyer was anything less than a great coach, he would’ve been gone by now. You would have been plenty fine with doing the right thing . . in that instance. But in this one, Meyer did wrong, and then he perpetuated that wrong by keeping an abuser on his payroll, and the only reason you’re okay with that is because of his 73-8 record.

What does it say about you . . that you would stand behind a bad guy like Meyer? That you would rally for his job when the facts demand that he be gone? What does it say about you that wins matter more than Courtney Smith’s well being? That wins matter more than the women who are being abused every single day? What does it say about you that, when you had a chance to do the right thing and demand that Meyer be fired immediately, you chose to hide behind his 73-8 record? What does it say about you, that you chose cult behavior over courage and compassion?

Me Too!

You should be ashamed of yourselves. But as that rally you held for Urban Meyer shows us all too well, you have no shame. Because the truth is, you might have been able to make a real difference in the interim. As your school waits it out in the hopes they won’t have to fire Meyer for his transgressions, you could have stayed neutral to the decision while still making a statement of hope and change. Because while an independent panel of investigators that includes three Ohio State trustees conducts its sham investigation, you could have issued a preemptive warning to Meyer’s second act, which seems more likely by the day. You could’ve put Meyer on notice.

You could have gotten together in support of all the women who are abused every single day. You could have gathered to remember all the women who have lost their lives to their abusers. And in so doing, you could have sent a message to this big name coach and his big deal program that by helping one abuser, they do an injustice to all those who are abused.

Because your cowardly rally comprised of weak minded individuals? It was the stuff of lemmings. You trashed journalists for uncovering the truth. You belittled a movement that is trying to move out of the dark ages. You defended a coach who hides behind bible study sessions and plausible denials. And why? You did so in the name of trophies.

I thought you should know that since you held your little rally on Monday? Twelve women have been murdered by their current or former male partners. And by the time this investigation is completed by that other Urban Meyer fan club? Thirty more women will have been murdered by their current or former male partners.

Your football coach is part of the problem, and so are you.

Here We Go Again

National Championship - Oregon v Ohio State

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.

Aaron Hernandez

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.

Courtney Smith

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.