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Analysis: The soap opera surrounding the Urban Meyer investigation

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer observes the field at Memorial Stadium prior to the Buckeyes’ season-opening 49-21 win over Indiana on Aug. 31 in Bloomington, Indiana. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports Editor


If there was one word to describe the last couple of weeks surrounding Ohio State football, this seems appropriate.

Starting with a fired wide receivers coach and moving to the uncertainty of the head coach’s future, now the focus has shifted to a laundry list of new, seemingly random breaking headlines every day.

The focus, for the time being, seems to have shifted miles past if head coach Urban Meyer will be on the sidelines at some point in 2018.

After former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy posted about the head coach allegedly knowing about Zach Smith’s domestic abuse history from 2009 and 2015 involving his ex-wife, Courtney Smith, Meyer was put on paid administrative leave for Ohio State to prepare an investigation to the accusations.

Meyer was put on paid leave on Aug. 1. The university then released a statement on Aug. 5 saying that the investigation is expected to be completed within 14 days.

On Day 8 of 14, this investigation has turned from what did Meyer know to: what information can be released to keep this story at the top of the news feed?  

Zach and Courtney Smith’s mothers have voiced their thoughts on the situation, with both emphatically defending Zach Smith in the case. Lynn Bruce, Zach Smith’s mother, alleged to sports writer Jeff Snook that Courtney Smith was attempting to take Smith and Meyer down, and that she had told Bruce that “several times over the years.”

Tina Carano, Courtney Smith’s mom, said in a report on Monday by Snook that Courtney Smith “set him up in this whole thing,” and that Zach Smith “lost his job over something that didn’t happen.”

Snook has also released reports saying McMurphy’s source of information on the Zach Smith story was former Ohio State assistant coach Tom Herman, who is now the head coach at Texas. Snook said Herman was angry about losing five-star wide receiver Garrett Wilson, a Texas native, to the Buckeyes, which motivated him to leak the information.

On Monday, news broke that Zach Smith refused to take a breathalyzer test in 2013, resulting in a DUI, as reported by Kyle Rowland of the Toledo Blade.

Stories about Zach and Courtney Smith’s past, their inconsistencies and where the information in the allegations has been received seems to be updated by the hour ever since the board put a timestamp on the investigation.

McMurphy’s information has appeared to change since his original report, as he was forced to go back on his word, saying he had direct evidence that Meyer knew about the 2015 incident, on ESPN. Then, he removed some of his previous allegations in future stories, including one where he said Earle Bruce, Zach Smith’s grandfather, met with Courtney Smith back in 2009.

Also, these developments have mostly come through Facebook, where McMurphy and Snook have dropped a large portion of the information to their personal pages.

All of these stories have added to the soap opera that is this Meyer investigation. But, none of these news breaks have had any sort of relevancy to the issue at hand: did Meyer do anything about the information he knew in 2015?

Here is what we do know: Zach Smith was fired on July 23 for the alleged domestic abuse. Meyer, while on administrative leave, said in a statement on Twitter that he followed proper protocols on the allegations back in 2015.

That is where the investigation will be looking, and all of the background noise in the past week hasn’t done a thing to assist the board in finding an answer.

As the investigation moves forward, the board talked to Courtney Smith on Monday, and is expected to meet with Zach Smith early this week.

Where this story stands, what is true? It’s impossible to know at this time. Where does all this new information leave Ohio State? Right where it started.

And because all these random stories have been thrown into the fire, somehow Meyer’s job security seems to have been lost in the smoke.


  1. It’s unclear exactly why Smith was fired. It may have been the recent trespassing arrest rather than “for the alleged domestic abuse.” Meyer never gave an exact reason.

  2. “Starting with a fired wide receivers coach”

    Not exactly. News explosion occurred when 11W, then soon the Lantern falsely ran headlines that Smith had been ARRESTED for Criminal Trespassing.

    Did the Lanrtern ever fully retract that false and incendiary headline? If not, why noy?

    • Sorry. “Lantern”.

      And that false headline ran on July 18. McMurphy’s FaceBook piece ran 5 full days later. The forest fire was out of control before McMurphy posted his mess. Readers have a right to trust the integrity of the Lantern. Sorry gang, but you dropped 2 pant loads on this story. First, by not verifying the “arrest” with the Powell PD. And second, by failing to promptly retract that false and damaging headline.

  3. Alexander Williams

    There are only two questions to ask. First, did Meyer know about the 2015 unsubstantiated allegations. Second, if yes, did he report as per university guidelines. It seems by all appearances he did. If so the case is closed. Once reported Meyer CANNOT fire someone or even ask how the investigation is going nor can the investigators tell Meyer the outcome without risking lawsuits.

    Just another example of the press condemning someone with zero knowledge of the events and, if possible, even less knowledge of legal and policy guidelines.

  4. FYI: When the media gets it’s hands on a puff story, real or made up, it is “guilty until proven innocent.” Lots of crowd noise surround this story not the least of which are all of social media people calling for Meyer to be fired. Go Bucks. … jack

  5. OSU is better than this & the new head Football Coach will inspire this years team to do great things. The Meyer’s era must come to an end.

    • Why must the Meyer era come to an end? Because you say so? Because of confusion and university politics not to leave out internal university biases? Let us DEMAND Facts be obtained and Released. Let us Demand Meyer’s “Rights & reputation” are not trampled or sullied over allegations and “he said she said’s.” Meyer deserves far more than the benefit of every doubt.

      • Yes he does & that is expected. With this position there is no 2nd chance. He has had that experience & the University is better than this.

  6. Of course Meyer knew !!!!!

  7. What is the responsibility/liability of Courtney Smith, her parents, Zack Smith, Earle Bruce, etc., etc.? They are adults and in some cases, mandated reporters of abuse. They didn’t file charges, go to the authorities, so why hold someone else responsible for your issues? IF, Coach Myers knew and reported the 2015 event and then no charges were filed and nothing came of it, wouldn’t the press have jumped all over that as Myers “false or suspicious” reporting? That would have been another issue, wouldn’t it? This is so much “he said/she said”. “He should/she should” and no one is taking responsibility for the initial issue of true/false, I DID/I DIDN’T, abuse, vengeance, paybacks, etc. Domestic violence/abuse, is NOT OKAY! Reporting an incident 3-5 years later is NOT okay. Where was your head when it happened?
    So much waste of time and money on years old issues that no one took the responsibility to deal with at the time. ENOUGH!!!

  8. Gregory Thompson

    Time for Drake to go. Worst president the Ohio State UNiversity has ever had.
    Spending money for frivolous lawsuits and investigations. Maybe Drake is hiding from something in his past. Everyone has sins to hide.
    On another note maybe texas will have a 0-11 season

  9. Sorry Lynn Bruce,
    But your son is an abuser
    And with the crap he ordered online
    And the pics he took show that he’s sick.
    But go on and keep defending him –
    Makes your whole family look like sick perverts.
    Glad Courtney got away from you and her mom.

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