Damning report claims Urban Meyer knew of 2015 domestic abuse allegations involving assistant

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A disturbing situation that Urban Meyer and the Ohio State football program had hoped had passed with a dismissal has instead resurfaced with a vengeance.

On the same day that two new reports of alleged domestic abuse, one from 2009 and another from 2015, surfaced, Zach Smith was dismissed as the Buckeyes’ wide receivers coach on July 23. At the Big Ten Media Days the next day, Meyer acknowledged that he was aware of the 2009 incident but vehemently denied any knowledge of one in 2015.  In fact, Meyer intimated that those allegations were fabricated as he described the decision to dismiss Smith, who was cited in May for criminal trespassing following an incident with his ex-wife, as a “very tough call.”

Wednesday, college football insider Brett McMurphy dropped a damning bomb on Facebook, writing that “[t]ext messages I have obtained, an exclusive interview with the victim and other information I have learned shows Ohio State coach Urban Meyer knew in 2015 of domestic abuse allegations against a member of his coaching staff.” The fired assistant’s ex-wife and the alleged victim in at least four domestic abuse situations, Courtney Smith, “provided text messages between her and the wives of Ohio State coaches – including Urban Meyer’s wife, Shelley – showing Meyer’s knowledge of the situation,” McMurphy added.

“Shelly said she was going to have to tell Urban,” Courtney claimed according to McMurphy. “I said: ‘That’s fine, you should tell Urban.’ I know Shelley did everything she could.”

Nowhere in the lengthy posting — I urge you to read it in full HERE — does it show that Shelley Meyer actually followed through and told her husband about the domestic abuse, it should be noted.  That said, a text message exchange between Courtney Smith and the wife of one of Meyer’s long-time football staffers showed that the head coach had indeed talked to Zach Smith about the allegations of domestic abuse in October of 2015.

Lindsey [Voltolini] is the wife of Brian Voltolini, considered one of Meyer’s most loyal staff members. Brian is Ohio State’s football operations director and has been part of Meyer’s staffs for 15 seasons at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State.

Courtney: “(Zach’s) trying to make me look crazy bc that’s what Shelley is saying (he’s doing)”
Lindsey: “He (Urban) just said he (Zach) denied everything”
Courtney: “I hope urban is smarter than that”
Lindsey: “He (Urban) doesn’t know what to think”
Courtney: “I don’t really care. Ya know”
Lindsey: “Yeah, don’t worry about urb”

At the very least, that text exchange, if accurately portrayed and relayed to McMurphy, showed Meyer was indeed aware of the 2015 incident and essentially lied when he told the media last month that he “was never told anything about [the 2015 incident], nothing ever came to light, never had a conversation about it, so I know nothing about it.”

McMurphy’s report also claims that Shelley Meyer, who the head coach said last month has “always weighed in as my best friend and soul mate. … She’s been right there with everything,” had deep and extensive knowledge of the abuse Courtney Smith had endured at the hands of one of her husband’s assistant coaches.

One 2015 text exchange between Courtney and Shelley Meyer shows the extent of Shelley’s knowledge of the alleged domestic abuse and that she was concerned for Courtney’s safety.

Shelley: “I am with you! A lot of women stay hoping it will get better. I don’t blame you! But just want u to be safe. Do you have a restraining order? He scares me”
Courtney: “Restraining orders don’t do anything in Ohio-I tried to get protection order which is what started this whole investigation. And that should go through soon finally. It’s hard bc you have to prove immediate danger. Legal system is tough. Basically you have to prove he will kill u to get protective order”
Shelley: “Geesh! Even w the pics? Didn’t law enforcement come to your place ever??

Zach Smith is the grandson of the late Earle Bruce, a close friend of Meyer’s. “He is the strongest relationship I’ve ever had other than my father,” Meyer has stated of the former OSU head coach.  This latest report claims that Bruce and another close friend of Meyer’s, Hiram de Fries, had at various points urged/pressured  Courtney Smith to not pursue charges against the now-34-year-old assistant coach.

“I know why nothing was done. Everyone was out to protect themselves,” McMurphy quoted Courtney Smith as saying. “Zach had people that were far more powerful than I would ever be that were protecting him and for the wrong reasons. I think people that knew (about the abuse) should have helped me. Instead, they chose to enable an abuser.

As of this posting, OSU officials have declined to address the explosive claims made in McMurphy’s posting.

Again, you can read McMurphy’s full report HERE — and I strongly urge you to do just that.

UPDATED 12:37 p.m. ET: In a portion of a video interview with Courtney Smith just released, Zach Smith’s ex-wife is asked if Shelley Meyer ever came back to her and told her that she had informed Urban Meyer of the abuse.

“She did not.”

Reports: USF quarterback Blake Barnett to undergo season-ending surgery on ankle

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The Blake Barnett era at USF appears to be over.

According to a report from Bulls247 and others, the senior quarterback’s career will likely end at the school after he undergoes surgery on his ankle that will knock him out the rest of the 2019 season.

The signal-caller was originally injured in a loss to SMU last month and hasn’t played since with what was described as a high ankle sprain. He was the team’s starter both last season and at the beginning of this one but was eventually replaced by redshirt freshman Jordan McCloud after several tough performances.

While there’s still an outside shot that Barnett could receive a sixth season from the NCAA thanks to a medical redshirt in 2019, the chances of that happening are always anyone’s guess. He did play in just four games this season but already used his redshirt when transferring the first time from Alabama to Arizona State. He made his way to Tampa prior to the 2018 campaign and led the team to a 7-0 start before the wheels came off for Charlie Strong’s team.

A former five-star recruit who once started for the Crimson Tide over current Heisman favorite Jalen Hurts, Barnett has had a meandering career to be sure but has shown flashes at times with the Bulls. He threw for 3,139 yards across two seasons at USF, completing just under 60% of his passes while tossing 16 touchdowns against 13 interceptions.

Losing Barnett is a big blow to the team’s depth at the position the rest of the season as McCloud has seen limited playing time so far and backup Kirk Rygol is a walk-on. USF takes on Navy this Saturday in Annapolis in a critical game if the team wants to make a bowl game in 2019.

Oregon State moves forward with $175 million Reser Stadium renovation

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While you wouldn’t know it from some of their records on the gridiron, the Pac-12 has been on a football building spree. Just in the past few years, USC, Arizona State and Cal among others have finished off stadium renovations while Arizona and Utah are about to commence some of their own.

It appears you can add another Pac-12 program considering some upgrades too as The Oregonian reports that Oregon State has sent out a request for proposal on a renovation to the west side of Reser Stadium. 

The project, which is set to start after the 2021 season concludes, is expected to cost nearly $175 million and comes on the heels of two renovations to the east side and north end in the past 15 years. The hope is that most of the construction will be finished off prior to fall camp in 2023, though the expectation is that some “non-football areas” will take until the end of the year to complete. 

Capacity at Reser, currently 43,154 overall, is expected to dip as a result of the project, which will include the usual bells and whistles of more suites, a new press box and additional general usage spaces. A new visitors locker room and video board are also expected to be a part of the project, which the school hopes will allow for year-round usage instead of just six Saturdays in the fall. 

Though the Beavers record hasn’t been anything to write home about the past few seasons, Reser has typically been a tough place to play for Pac-12 opponents and one of the more unique places in college football given the setting. The west side is badly in need of an upgrade (originally built in 1953) though so hopefully the program balances the need to create a fun atmosphere with the more pressing issue of having a modern facility. Judging by the pricetag, they certainly are not skimping out on much.

Boise State AD taking very un-UCF-like approach to College Football Playoff

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The team that was the original BCS-buster actually appears very realistic about the chances of cracking the top four and making the College Football Playoff should they go undefeated.

In a sharp contrast to the stance taken by fellow Group of Five program UCF, Boise State athletic director Curt Apsey seems quite content to just make a New Year’s Six bowl in lieu of a semifinal game given the way the current system has been setup for teams such as his own.

“We don’t really focus that much on that sort of pie in the sky, be a part of the College Football Playoff and all that kind of thing,” Apsey told ESPN. “Because we know what we have to do in order to just be considered for that.

“If you have a 12-0 Boise State and, say, you have a 10-2 Alabama. … We beat everyone in our conference and we beat Marshall and we beat Portland State. I’ll be honest with you, I kinda get [selecting Alabama]. I really do.”

The Broncos are currently the highest ranked Group of Five team in the polls and are favored in all of their remaining games this season, starting with a trip to BYU on Saturday. Should they wind up running the table, their most likely destination is the Cotton Bowl. That seems fine by those on the blue turf, which is far from the kind of response that the Black Knights had when they went undefeated in the regular season the past two years and all but demanded a spot in the final four.

Interestingly, Apsey’s stance isn’t quite shared with his head coach — who has a talking point much closer to the one coming out of Orlando the past few years.

“I’ll continue to say that you’re an undefeated team, you deserve an opportunity to continue your season and play for a national championship,” Bryan Harsin said. “If you’re undefeated, you should have an opportunity to play for a national championship. Period. And regardless of perception, don’t care about that.”

Until the College Football Playoff eventually is expanded, it seems like a long shot for any Group of Five team to crack the top four in the final Selection Committee standings. Boise State brass isn’t throwing a huge fit over that fact, which is a welcome change for the team most likely to earn an exclusive ticket to join the New Year’s Six in 2019.

NCAA says targeting penalties down 32 percent in 2019 compared to last season

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Years of emphasizing a different way to tackle in order to avoid targeting penalties might finally be paying off on the field.

According to the NCAA, targeting penalties are down sharply in the first half of the 2019 FBS regular season — dropping some 32% compared to the same time period in 2018. A total of 132 targeting penalties were flagged through the first seven weeks this year, with 83 upheld after video review compared to 171 total and a whopping 122 enforced last season.

“The main reason is that coaches and players have responded,” national coordinator of football officials Rogers Redding told the Associated Press. “We anecdotally see player behavior changing, although we can’t prove it. This is difficult to quantify, but it comes from several (officials) coordinators and me, based on years of experience with this rule.”

The NCAA passed several rules changes prior to the 2019 campaign related to the targeting penalties, including requiring that any targeting foul which cannot be confirmed by video review to be overturned. While Redding noted that there would have been some calls last season that would have been overturned given those changes, there still would have been sharp drop off year-over-year even when factoring in such targeting calls being waved off. Players will continue to be ejected from the game and miss the next half of football if targeting is upheld but a new change also makes such calls even costlier for repeat offenders, as three targeting penalties in one season will force a player to miss their next full game.

Ever since it was introduced, the targeting penalty has been among the most controversial aspects of the game for players, coaches and fans. It appears the message is finally getting through for some however as everybody has gotten used to the changes in recent years.