Urban Meyer was only half in the dark when it came to the off-field issues that led to the firing of one of his assistants, the Ohio State head coach stated Tuesday.
A day earlier, Meyer had announced that Zach Smith had been dismissed as the Buckeyes wide receivers coach. The move came on the same day that two new reports of alleged domestic abuse, one from 2009 and another from 2015, surfaced. It was also confirmed that Smith’s ex-wife, involved in the two previous incidents, had obtained a domestic violence civil protection order against Smith in connection to a May incident in which the coach was cited for criminal trespassing.
Meyer confirmed he was aware of the 2009 incident, which occurred when Smith was a member of Meyer’s football staff at Florida. In that incident, it was alleged Smith picked up his then-pregnant-wife, Courtney Smith, by her t-shirt “and threw her against the bedroom wall located upstairs in their apartment.” Another incident involving alleged domestic abuse, this one from 2015 when Smith was an assistant at OSU, came to light as well, although Meyer stated he was unaware of that one.
In fact, Meyer claimed that he has found no evidence that an incident actually occurred in 2015. That said, Meyer told the assembled media that he “is not going to get into” the whys and the timing of the dismissal.
According to ESPN.com, Meyer, in front of a small group of reporters prior to appearing at the podium during the Big Ten Media Days this morning, labeled the firing of Smith a “very tough call” made in the best interests of the team.
“The most important people in our program are our players,” Meyer said. “We’re very clear of our expectations. We decided to make a change.”
It’s expected that, at least on an interim basis, former OSU wide receiver Brian Hartline will assume Smith’s on-field coaching duties. Meyer stated that a final decision on a replacement will likely be made toward the end of the week.
The legend of Joe Burrow is well-told by now. A guy who barely got a scholarship at Ohio State, waited his turn, realized his turn wasn’t coming, re-invented himself at LSU, and is now bound for a Heisman Trophy. The adopted son of Louisiana has put together one of the best passing seasons in college football history — 77.9 percent completion (on pace to shatter Colt McCoy‘s single-season FBS record), 10.7 yards per attempt, 48 touchdowns against just six interceptions with a 201.47 efficiency rating (on pace to break Tua Tagovailoa‘s record) — while guiding the Bayou Bengals to the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff.
It’s a season they’ll remember forever in Louisiana, and one they’d like to forget in Nebraska.
During an interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi in Saturday’s edition of College GameDay, Burrow shared that he really wanted to be a Cornhusker all along.
“I had one offer after my junior year of high school, and it was my dad’s team. I wanted to go to Nebraska,” he said, via 247Sports. “They told me I wasn’t good enough.”
Burrow played high school football in Athens, Ohio, but he spent much of his youth in Lincoln, where his father, Joey Burrow, was an assistant coach. Joey played at Nebraska, and he coached Joe’s older brothers, Jamie and Dan Burrow, who were also Cornhuskers. Joey Burrow was on staff at Ohio U. during Joe’s high school years, and for a time his only FBS offer was from the hometown Bobcats, which he dubbed a “pity offer.”
He wanted more. He wanted Nebraska.
The good news for those in Huskerland is that Burrow was recruited during the Mike Riley era. This is all Riley’s fault, right? There’s no egg on Scott Frost‘s face, is there?
UConn is 6-30 in the 2.0 tenure of Randy Edsall, having gone 3-9 in 2017, 1-11 last year and 2-10 this. The program reportedly also has more than a dozen players in the transfer portal.
Needless to say, it’s not a good time in the annals of Husky football, but it’s also not a good time to make a coaching change. The program is short on cash and in the midst of transitioning from the American to life as an FBS independent, and AD David Benedict has no plans to add another major change on top of that. As he told the AP on Sunday:
“I’m not saying that everyone has to share the same opinion or have the same level of confidence in Coach Edsall that I do, but he has to be given the time to build the program and you can’t do it in three years,” he said. “Ultimately over the next three years, we’ll hopefully see our program become more and more competitive.”
As far as votes of confidence go, this is about the least confident you’ll ever see an AD be when he backs his coach.
But at the same time, it’s also one of the most concrete. Whereas most ADs will commit to backing their coach through the end of that season and the one following at the absolute most, Benedict seems to indicate Edsall will not only be back in 2020, but 2021 and ’22 as well.
While definitely subject to change, the initial wagering odds for the degenerates in the reading audience are out.
Earlier Sunday, and in a surprise to absolutely no one, the four semifinalists for the 2019 College Football Playoff were released. LSU was given the No. 1 seed by the selection committee and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl. No. 2 Ohio State, which came into Championship Saturday ranked first in the country, will square off with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.
According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, LSU is a 7/5 favorite to win the 2019 national championship. Clemson is next at 2/1, while Ohio State sits at 3/1. Oklahoma, which won its way into the playoffs at the expense of Georgia, is a decided underdog at 16/1.
Speaking of underdogs, the SEC Tigers are currently listed as a 12½-point favorite in their matchup with the Sooners. Despite being the higher seed, the Buckeyes have opened as a two-point underdog to the ACC Tigers.
The over/under for Ohio State-Clemson opened at 63; for LSU-Oklahoma, it’s at 75.
LSU and Oklahoma have squared off just twice previously, with the most recent matchup coming in 2004. Clemson and Ohio State have met three times in their collective histories, the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 College Football Playoff — a 31-0 win for the Tigers.
When it came to replacing the fired Chad Morris, Arkansas, as it turned out, didn’t have to look outside of the SEC.
Sunday, with one of its top targets, Lane Kiffin, already having been locked up by SEC West rival Ole Miss, Arkansas reportedly pivoted its attention to Georgia’s Sam Pittman. A few hours later, the Razorbacks confirmed that Pittman has been hired as the school’s next head football coach.
“Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “As one of the nation’s premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.
“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.”
The hiring marks a return to Fayetteville for Pittman as he was a member of Bret Bielema‘s first coaching staff in 2013. In 2016, he left for Georgia, where he spent the past four seasons as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach. He also served as Kirby Smart‘s associate head coach.
The 58-year-old Pittman will be officially introduced as the Razorbacks’ 34th head coach Monday afternoon.