(Image courtesy cleveland.com)
I’m sure we’re aware of the situation in Columbus that has resulted in Urban Meyer and Gene Smith finding themselves on a sabbatical, of sorts. The following commentary is used, with permission, by FOTB (friend of this blogger) MaliBuckeye. (Mali and I have a relationship, nay, friendship, that goes back several years. In the trajectory of my blogging past, Mali has provided the 2nd stage, if not the 3rd stage of this projectile. I am indebted to Mali for his friendship, guidance and opportunity provided.)
- I’m thankful that the University took the steps that they did to examine and address this situation. While I (and we) may not agree with the final decision, the investigation and consideration of the matters at hand was significant… and not something we’d have seen at other institutions. Ohio State should have a higher standard, and I think they took steps that indicate their understanding of this.
- I also think the matters at hand are complicated. There’s domestic violence, sure, but there’s also management and development of staff and culture. I agree with Scott that it seems like the suspension was more about the latter while framed to be about the former, but both are at play here.
- And this is again where I think Urban needs to uphold a higher standard… and where, in most places, he does. As the highest paid state employee in Ohio, and as the leader and figurehead for the premier program in college football, his actions need to be not just what was required, but should serve as an example as to what should be expected. His should be a life that’s not merely on the line, but above it.
- Urban’s loyalty has been called a weakness, but I disagree with that. Like Tressel (too soon?), and certainly Woody, Urban understands that football is more than just Xs and Os, and works to engage and develop people, even beyond what they might deserve. The issue, then, isn’t loyalty, but where it lies and to what level.
- This is where I think that all of this situation breaks down… and it seems that Urban acknowledges this as well. All leaders need someone that leads them; someone that they can be honest with and can hold them accountable both to job standards and personal expectations. For Urban, one of those person seems to have been Earle- which complicates things in this situation with Earle’s grandson.
- Thinking about this a bit further; I can’t imagine what it must be like to be the head coach at Ohio State. I work in Higher Education, and can tell you that it can be a weighty and lonely place to work. But that’s why Urban (and those like him) make the giant novelty checks. But money alone can’t buy the support, encouragement, and accountability that leaders need- and the higher up the food chain one goes, the more they need those things. I wonder who “speaks truth” to him on a regular basis? Shelley, sure… but are there others? Tim Kight or someone like that?
- Shifting gears: It’s possible to hold two beliefs at the same time in this matter. For instance, it’s possible to believe that Urban was honest, and also to believe that Urban could have been more honest. It’s possible to believe that Zach Smith was a terrible husband and that Courtney has significant issues of her own. It’s possible to want healing for both the program and the individuals/families involved simultaneously. It’s possible to believe that Urban dealt with Zach the way he did for altruistic reasons and for selfish ones. It’s possible to believe that the University’s decision was both about PR and about HR. It’s possible to believe that good people can make dumb decisions and dumb people can make good decisions, in spite of what Brett McMurphy will tell you.
- There are still concerning things that will be dug into over and over and over again for a while now, and perhaps even additional details that will come out to tear open old wounds. There are also people who have made up their minds on both sides and won’t be swayed. That’s just life, particularly in the spotlight that comes with Ohio State Football.
- But now that we have this event, the response is what’s important. And so far, I feel optimistic about the institution’s response, and will look forward to the outcome. I’m not sure I’d like to be Willie Fritz in a few weeks, though.
I appreciate, and I hope you do too, Mali’s thoughts. I look forward to more…