Greg Schiano had things to talk about heading into the Maryland game.
The Ohio State defensive coordinator discussed his defense’s improvement on limiting missed tackles, the play of sophomore safety Brendon White, the stability of the linebacker position and the return of redshirt senior Dante Booker.
But there was something he knew he had to address.
According to a report by Brett McMurphy, a staff writer from Stadium, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer covered up a verbal altercation between former wide receivers coach Zach Smith and former wide receiver Trevon Grimes that allegedly took place during a practice in September 2017.
The report stated that Smith had used racial slurs when speaking to Grimes, leading to his transfer to Florida in December 2017.
When asked about this, Schiano wanted to make something perfectly clear.
“One thing I learned a long time ago in coaching is Saturday is going to come,” Schiano said. “Whatever time kickoff, this week, it’s noon. Noon is coming. Whether you are ready or not, nobody cares.”
That does not mean the players and the coaching staff are ignoring the allegations made in this report.
Meyer said in the Big Ten Coaches Teleconference Tuesday that he was “irate” and the players were “over-the-top irate” when they heard about the report.
“They were extremely upset that that kind of accusation would be made about something that is absolutely not tolerated, and quite honestly, the most preposterous thing I ever heard being involved in college athletics,” he said.
Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day echoed Meyer’s feelings from the teleconference, saying, “all of that stuff is foolishness.” But he said the team came out Tuesday and practiced like it always did.
However, for the offensive coordinator, he saw there were clearly things on the minds of the players and the coaching staff.
“Today was just one of those things where a lot of people were just shaking their head like they don’t quite understand where that all comes from,” Day said. “But this team is strong. This team is galvanized from a lot of different reasons, but yeah, this would be another example of that.”
This is something Day is used to. He was the interim head coach for Meyer when he was placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 1 and through the first three games of the season when Meyer was suspended after reports claimed he knew about domestic violence allegations made against Smith. Smith was dismissed from the program on July 23.
He said, despite the off-the-field storylines Ohio State has gone through, it has not bothered the team, giving credit to the culture and the leadership of its captains.
But the players did not stay quiet when the report was released.
“There are a lot of guys that are angry about that,” Day said. “You can tell right when it happened. People came out and said a lot of stuff and denied any of that stuff, but I think in this situation here, everybody was just kind of appalled by the whole thing.”
Ohio State redshirt senior wide receivers Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon were quick to rally support against the report, saying they witnessed the altercation between Smith and Grimes and the report of the use of a racial slur was false.
“You think a group of African American young men will sit there and let something like this happen?” Dixon said in a tweet. “Say what you want but this isn’t true at all.”
When asked about the report, junior defensive end Jonathon Cooper stated his allegiance to Ohio State and the football program.
“All I have to say to that is I love my teammates, I love this university,” Cooper said. “I know we have good people here and good guys and it’s a really great program.”
There are players and coaches angry in response to McMurphy’s report. But Schiano said, with the formula Meyer has set up in the Ohio State football program, it takes an extreme situation to “break you out of your routine.”
The defensive coordinator said the best way to deflect attention about the report is to not get involved because, he said, there are bigger things to worry about.
According to Schiano, there is a difference in this report and the allegations made in it from McMurphy. But when Saturday arrives, it does not matter.
“On Saturday at noon, nobody cares about that,” Schiano said. “All they care about is do we do our job and do we win the game. So you can get distracted, but get ready because you are going to get it a week from now.”