Given the main characters involved, there’s no way this one slides sideways or goes completely off the rails in the comments section/on Twitter, right?
President Donald Trump was in Lebanon, Ohio, Friday night for a “Make America Great Again” campaign rally a month ahead of the midterm elections. As Lebanon is a little over an hour away from Columbus, the POTUS — and no doubt his staffers — was well aware that his audience would be littered with fans of The Ohio State University.
According to the Washington Examiner, Trump did the obvious and invoked the name of Urban Meyer to what was a very receptive crowd.
“It sounds like we’re in the middle of an Ohio State football game. And speaking of Ohio State, they’re not doing too badly are they?” Trump said according to the Examiner. “They have a great coach, a great coach — a great guy. A great guy.”
There should be little argument that Meyer is a great coach, one of the greatest of all-time and a future College Football Hall of Famer. Some outside of Buckeye Nation, though, might quibble with the “great guy” label slapped on the Buckeyes head coach by the most powerful man on the planet.
Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 1 as questions into his handling of domestic abuse allegations made against his now-former assistant coach, Zach Smith, surfaced. The university announced the launching of an investigation into Meyer’s actions the day after the head coach’s leave was announced.
In a statement Aug. 3, Meyer claimed that he has “always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels.” Allegations of domestic abuse stemmed not only from Zach Smith’s time at OSU, but while he was on Meyer’s Florida staff in 2009 as well.
In late August, it was announced that Meyer would retain his job as the Buckeyes’ head football coach but would be suspended from coaching the first three games of the 2018 season. As part of the findings from the report stemming from the investigation into Meyer’s actions — or lack thereof, as some would say — it was revealed that the coach’s initial reaction to a damning report released Aug. 1 was to have a discussion with his director of football operations about how to delete text messages older than a year. The investigative report also learned “that Coach Meyer has sometimes had significant memory issues in other situations where he had prior extensive knowledge of events. He has also periodically taken medicine that can negatively impair his memory, concentration, and focus.”
That memory loss has been attributed to an arachnoid cyst that causes chronic headaches, and the medication he takes to treat the issue. This past weekend, Meyer was seen on camera dealing with the pain of one of those headaches on the sidelines during OSU’s win over Indiana.
After the press conference announcing his three-game suspension Aug. 22, Meyer was roundly criticized for his tone-deaf failure to use the public forum to apologize to Courtney Smith, who had accused Zach Smith of spousal abuse. Two days later, the embattled Buckeyes head coach released a statement in which he “sincerely apologize[d] to Courtney Smith and her children for what they have gone through.”
Despite the apology, which many deemed as too little, too late, Meyer remained the subject of intense media scrutiny not only for his initial fumbling of the press conference but also for his handling of the domestic abuse allegations levied against his former assistant. Aug. 31, Meyer issued yet another statement through his personal Twitter account, writing that “there have been a number of things reported in the media about President Drake’s decision and the Investigative Team’s Report that have not been correct and must be clarified.”
Meyer’s main point, it seems, was to reiterate that he “was not suspended because I knew about or condoned Zach Smith’s alleged domestic abuse.” Additionally, the coach acknowledged that it was “my fault [for] not taking action sooner against a troubled employee about his work-related issues.”
“With respect to Zach Smith and the events that led to his termination, it’s clear I could have done a better job,” Meyer wrote in a statement released on Sept. 17, the day his three-game suspension officially came to an end. “I should have done a better job, and I’ll always regret that I didn’t.”
During the campaign leading up to Trump’s 2016 election, the future POTUS claimed that Meyer had “said some awfully nice things about me.” Meyer’s response to that claim?
“My job description is very clear, and that’s to coach Ohio State football, and the focus is on 17 to 18 to 22-year-olds,” the head coach said in early March of 2016, two weeks before the Ohio primary. “I have strong beliefs, but I’m not going to share that with you guys. I don’t think that’s appropriate.”
It remains unclear whether Meyer has ever publicly or privately ever said awfully nice things about the most polarizing human being on the face of the Earth.