As much as Texas desperately wants to, the Big 12 school simply can’t distance itself from the ongoing mess in Columbus.
As part of the investigation into Urban Meyer‘s handling of domestic abuse allegations made against his former wide receivers coach, Zach Smith, the summary of findings released by the investigative committee last week revealed, among myriad other things like memory lapses and deleted texts, that Smith and an unnamed OSU assistant paid a visit to a Miami-area strip club during a 2014 recruiting trip to Florida. Smith ran up a $600 bill in the strip club trek that included not only the unnamed assistant but “one or more high school coaches.”
Tuesday, an OSU spokesperson confirmed to the Columbus Dispatch that Tom Herman was the unnamed assistant who accompanied Smith to the adult establishment. At the time, Herman was the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach; Herman was hired by Houston as its head coach in December of 2014 before moving on to take the same job at Texas in November of 2016.
Thus far, Texas officials have remained mum about Herman’s connection to the situation at Ohio State and have refused to comment publicly on it. That doesn’t mean they aren’t interested observers, however, as Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman writes that “two sources said they are monitoring the news in Columbus, which has grown into the biggest story in college football.”
UT’s ongoing interest in that aspect of the scandal is likely related to any potential NCAA violations that may have been committed. “Ohio State could face an inquiry from the NCAA if either of its assistants paid for the high school coach or coaches who also were present,” the Dispatch wrote in its original report.
The American-Statesman reports that, contractually, the strip club trip is outside of the University of Texas’ purview — any potential NCAA issues notwithstanding. That incident did, though, change the wording of OSU’s coaching manual moving forward.
From the summary of findings:
(iii) Coach Meyer became aware of this incident, although he maintains not the amount of the expenditure, and reprimanded Zach Smith, warning him that if it happened again, he would be fired; Coach Meyer also revised the 2014 Coaches’ Manual to include a “morality clause” instructing staff to “[a]void strip clubs or venues that would embarrass The Ohio State University” and prohibiting “pornography . . . on any university-issued computer, phone, IPad, etc.
Smith was fired by Meyer on July 23 after being cited for criminal trespassing and having a domestic violence protection order obtained against him by his ex-wife. Meyer was initially placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 1 before being slapped with a three-game suspension Aug. 22.
Aug. 11, it was reported that it was Herman who tipped off college football insider Brett McMurphy about the extent of the domestic abuse allegations made against Smith. In the wake of that report, Herman stated it is “absolutely untrue” that he was the source.
“Neither I, nor anybody in my family, has ever communicated with Brett McMurphy about the situation at Ohio State,” a portion of Herman’s statement read.
In an extensive Twitter rant Wednesday, Smith asked, among other things, how McMurphy landed Herman as his first interview at the writer’s new job as well as “[h]ow come you didn’t ask [Herman] about the alleged strip club incident that you reported about?” Smith also questioned if McMurphy asked Herman about what happened in the ensuing days after the trip to the strip club. Just what Smith is implying with that line of questioning is unclear.