Urban Meyer announced his retirement as head football coach at Ohio State on Monday. There has been a great deal of speculation this season about the chances of Meyer coaching at the school beyond this season. The speculation stemmed from the fallout of his three game suspension following an investigation on his handling of the Zach Smith situation. Smith was a long time assistant coach under Meyer who allegedly was involved in multiple domestic violence incidents over the past decade. The speculation died down some as Meyer announced on October 29th that he would definitely be coaching at Ohio State next season. It died even more in November as the Buckeyes finished the regular season with five straight wins and another Big Ten title.
The speculation has now moved as to whether Meyer was asked to retire or is he walking away on his own terms. We know better than to believe everything he says. The investigation, and Meyer telling the world at Big Ten Media Day that he was not aware of Smith being involved in any domestic violence incidents, tells us that. Five weeks ago, Meyer said he was returning next season. Now he is not. Naturally, that has led to speculation on if he was asked to quietly retire.
Urban Meyer on the field
Back to the legacy question. Meyer could have been remembered for the championships and the wins next to his name, the way he built up two smaller programs and revitalized two powerhouses over a 34-year career that took him from high school assistant to coaching great. Based on numbers, history says he is one of the greatest coaches in college football history. But legacy goes far beyond numbers, especially when everyone in the profession preaches how important it is to mold young men into respectable and moral-bound citizens.
I believe Meyer, much like Joe Paterno, will have a legacy tagged with an asterisk. And not all because of what occurred in 2018 in Columbus. When he stepped down at Florida after the 2010 season, Meyer left behind a messy trail of 30-plus player arrests and a culture that put good players ahead of good character. The legacy now has the mismanagement of assistant coach Zach Smith, setting off an investigation that ultimately tainted Meyer and dredged up the Florida past he had tried to outrun.
The investigation found that Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith “failed to take sufficient management action relating to Zach Smith’s misconduct and retained an assistant coach who was not performing as an appropriate role model for OSU student-athletes.”
The investigation also found Meyer misrepresented what he knew about the domestic abuse allegations in 2015. (There is that telling the truth problem again.)
I find it ironic that Meyer took the Ohio State job before the 2012 season after Jim Tressel was forced out for lying to the NCAA amid a scandal. Ohio State followers have to be hopeful their next coach finds virtue in being truthful.
NFL By The Numbers
4 – The Carolina Panthers have now lost four consecutive games after being soundly defeated by the lowly Tampa Bay Bucs. Cam Newton threw four interceptions and his body language alone tells me that this is not a playoff team.
20.37 – I like that NFL broadcasts are telling us how fast some of the players are running at certain times. Phillip Lindsay of Denver topped out at 20.37 MPH during his 65-touchdown run vs. Cincinnati. I had that thought the other day while driving 20 MPH in town. Lindsay would have passed me.
41 – First year starter and likely MVP Patrick Mahomes already has 41 touchdown passes for the Kansas City Chiefs this season. He joins an exclusive list of QBs to hit 40 TDs in the first 12 games. The others are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Aaron Rodgers playing the Cardinals
220 – Before Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers were 220-0-2 when leading by 14 points at home. But after wasting a 23-7 lead in the third quarter, they lost, 33-30, to the Los Angeles Chargers.
233 – Aaron Rodgers compiled 233 passing yards against the woeful Arizona Cardinals, in a shocking 20-17 home loss that led to the firing of head coach Mike McCarthy after the game. Rodgers’ passing yards total came on 31 completions. I did the math. It worked out to just less than eight yards a completion. Rodgers is too talented to be throwing the ball short. I can see why McCarthy, the playcaller, was let go.