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Football: Urban Meyer faces questions over Zach Smith at 2018 Big Ten Media Days

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer gives his opening remarks at 2017 Big Ten Media Day. Credit: Jacob Myers | Managing Editor

While Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer probably wished the conversation at the 2018 Big Ten Media Days could have stayed focused on just football, Meyer found himself answering questions pertaining to the firing of wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Zach Smith.

Smith was fired after his ex-wife filed a domestic violence civil protection order, sparking an investigation into his past that dug up previous allegations of domestic violence against his wife.

Meyer said in his introductory press conference Tuesday he knew about Smith’s prior allegations. He said it came back to him that “what was reported wasn’t actually what happened,” in reference to the 2009 allegation that Smith threw a woman into a bathroom wall, according to a Gainesville, Florida, police report.

“Whenever you get an accusation, contact your superior, you find out what happened and you let the people do their jobs, and then you let, I guess, the legal course run its course and find out,” Meyer said. “We met with them, there were no charges, everything was dropped. There was a very young couple, and I saw a very talented coach, and we moved forward.”

Meyer also was asked about a 2015 incident where Smith was arrested for felonious assault and domestic violence in Powell, Ohio. Meyer previously said there was “nothing” to the validity of the incident, but clarified he wouldn’t know.

“I can’t say it didn’t happen because I wasn’t there. I was never told about anything,” Meyer said. “The first I heard about that was last night.”

Pro-style Haskins versus Martell’s intangibles

Meyer said earlier in the day that redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins is the quarterback in front, but that redshirt freshman Tate Martell has done well.

At the podium, Meyer commended Martell for his willingness to win at all costs.

“The greatest compliment and the most common denominator of every great player I’ve ever coached is competitive spirit … I see that in Tate Martell,” Meyer said. “I see a guy that refuses to lose, and that’s very appealing to a coaching staff.”

On the other end, Meyer was asked about how to handle a pro-style quarterback, instead of the likes of dual-threat quarterbacks like J.T. Barrett and Tim Tebow, who Meyer coached at Florida.

Meyer said the offense molds to the best quarterback on the team, and that he holds plenty of experience with a pro-style offense.

“We take the best available player, we won three national titles, two have been with drop-back quarterbacks, pro-style quarterbacks, Chris Leak and Cardale Jones,” Meyer said. “We go after the best player that has the intangibles of competitives and toughness and leadership and we build it around what we can do.”

More praise for Dre’Mont Jones

After saying redshirt junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones had the best spring of anyone following the Spring Game, Meyer doubled down on his excitement for Jones, who was named to the 2018 Bronko Nagurski watch list for the best defensive players in college football on Tuesday.

“He’s a grown man and I can’t wait,” Meyer said. “He’s one of our best players, if not, after spring ball, what I saw in spring practice, that’s hard to say he wasn’t one of the top one or two players on the team.”

Jones was a third-team All Big Ten member in 2017 and is one of three defensive linemen who started all 12 games in his freshman season for the Buckeyes.

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