As the Board of Trustees decided on the future of head coach Urban Meyer at the Longaberger Alumni Center on Wednesday, the Ohio State football team practiced.
The sound of strength coach Mickey Marotti’s voice echoed across Olentangy River Road, encouraging individual players as the team warmed up at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center during its 4 p.m. practice prior to the season opener against Oregon State on Sept. 1.
As day turned to night and the voice of Marotti faded, the deliberation ended, deciding Meyer would be suspended without pay through Sept. 2 and for the games on Sept. 1, 8 and 15.
In Meyer’s absence, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day will continue as the acting head coach, a role he has held since Aug. 1 when Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave when the Board of Trustees began its investigation into his knowledge of domestic violence allegations made against former assistant coach Zach Smith.
In the opening statement of his press conference, Athletic Director Gene Smith thanked Day for taking on the role of acting head coach, calling him and the assistant coaches strong leaders throughout the investigation.
The main message from Gene Smith ahead of his suspension was simple: provide the necessary support for Day through the first three games of the 2018 season.
“Our top priority over the next few days is to make sure that we do everything that we can to reaffirm Coach Day’s commitment to being our interim coach during this timeframe,” Gene Smith said. “I will also working to ensure our student-athletes have every resource they need to maintain their focus on academics and competition.”
Even though Meyer will not be on the sideline for the first three games of the season, the Ohio State head coach will be able to coach during the weeks leading up to games after Sept. 2.
However, for a coach that said he had “worked diligently to build a program that would make the great state of Ohio and Ohio State very proud,” Meyer said his absence from the program has been extremely difficult.
“It’s been very tough, one of the toughest things I’ve experienced,” Meyer said. “I have very good players and a very good staff. My message when i get to speak to the team is that I love them dearly, I appreciate all they’ve done for this incredible university.”
While he is away from the team for the first three weeks of the season, Meyer was very complimentary towards his current coaching staff, including two former head coaches in defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson.
“It’s also one of the best coaching staffs I’ve had,” Meyer said. “I look forward to watching them continue to grow and getting updates as we move forward.”
When it is all said and done, the Board of Trustees decided, with the decision to reinstate the head coach after a three-game suspension, that Ohio State was still Meyer’s team. This is the mindset Meyer looks to take as his return to the Buckeyes comes closer.
“I’ve been a Buckeye my entire life,” Meyer said. “I appreciate the opportunity to learn from the mistake and work as hard as I ever have to make our strong program even stronger.”