Big Ten East is trending--but in wrong direction

blau headshot square border

You know you have reached a certain level of notoriety when a simple one-or-two word description is all that is necessary for identification purposes.

Rock and Roll fans, as well as former Presidents, know the identity of "The Boss."

If you are a music or movie fan, you need only say Cher.

On the political front, both positively and negatively, you only have to say "The Donald" to know the subject.

And that brings us to college football's latest storm, involving Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and whether he was aware one of his assistant coaches was involved in a domestic violence issue.

We have now reached that next-level point with these three words: "Big Ten East," the most scandalous, dark-alley division in college football.

When former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy posted a story on his Facebook page, providing specific and on-the-record details of a domestic violence case involving former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith, Meyer faced a generational old question:

What did he know and when did he know it? [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

In instances of domestic violence, Meyer and his wife Shelly, as employees of Ohio State, likely were mandated by Title IX requirements to report any knowledge of such incidents to their superiors. Apparently, neither Meyer nor his wife, --who is a nurse and exchanged text messages with Smith's ex-wife as to what was happening--did that.

How all that sorts out over the next several weeks, or months, will unfold at its own pace. Meyer is currently on paid administrative leave, while OSU officials investigate.

The larger issue here is more ominous for Ohio State the Big Ten and college football in general. No matter where your interests lie, it would be a safe bet to assume that the three crimes/actions which are almost universally condemned are domestic abuse, sexual assault and pedophile cases.

With that in mind, the athletic programs at Penn State, Michigan State, and Ohio State have dealt with cases involving Jerry Sandusky, Larry Nassar and Zach Smith and indirectly Urban Meyer.

Ohio State also is involved another abuse issue involving Congressman Jim Jordan, who is accused of having knowledge of a sexual abuse issue when he was an assistant wrestling coach at OSU.

These are major league issues that make the SEC's problems with boosters giving extra benefits, including cash payments to recruits, look like parking tickets.

We are being Jersey Guy flippant here, of course. There is nothing funny about what happened at Penn State or Michigan State. Nor is the issue of not responding to a domestic violence issue, or the way Meyer reportedly has handled the issue of one of assistants physically abusing his wife.

What is even more puzzling to us is why Meyer would risk so much to protect an assistant coach? Even if he is the grandson of former Ohio State Coach Earle Bruce, one of Meyer's early mentors?

I talked to a few head coaches about the incident in the past few days and the opinion was unanimous. "I have my guys'' said one head coach, who has coached at the highest level in college athletics. "But I told them, on that issue (physical abuse) I just won't tolerate it.''

The risk-reward ratio is totally tipped towards risk for Meyer, who is in danger of losing one of the best jobs in college football for allegedly keeping silent about one of his assistants.

Why?

The only logical explanation is that there are other incidents involving Meyer and the OSU athletic program, or maybe at Florida that Smith (who has been with Meyer for more than a dozen years) knows about. Maybe this information could be harmful to Meyer's reputation.

The early rush to judgement response from the media has been a call for Meyer's termination. I think it is too early to make that call.

Meyer may be able to survive with an apology and an unpaid suspension of anywhere from six games, to an entire season. If that is the case, that apology must come quickly and be believable. As TMG co-founder Chris Dufresne and many others have already pointed out, Meyer's credibility in speaking the truth is negligible.

Another college football season is about to begin and already there are major storm clouds gathering over a marquee program.

C'est la vie in college football in 2018.[/membership]

Comments