Et tu, Urban Meyer.
More and more, bigtime college sports are becoming one Shakespearian tragedy after another.
Today, the spotlight shines on Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer, placed on leave by the university while it investigates what he knew and when he knew about some naughty behavior by one of his trusted assistants, Zach Smith.
Where have we heard this before?
Oh yes, Joe Paterno of sainted Penn State football memory knew nothing about the antics of his longtime defensive coordinator and assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who is now behind bars for those activities.
And Rick Pitino survived a couple of scandals but was shocked, absolutely shocked, when advised of the shenanigans that went on behind his back in the Louisville basketball program. The university later was shocked about his shady recruiting tactics and invited him to seek employment elsewhere and, by the way, to take athletic director Tom Jurich with him.
There were also other bad things going on at Ohio State where the university reported last month that more than 100 former students had been sexually abused by Richard H. Strauss a former team doctor. Then there was the matter of trouble in the school’s wrestling program, a condition that congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said he knew nothing about even though he was an assistant coach at the university at the time.
Jordan hopes to become speaker of the United States House of Representatives and third in line for president of the United States so a nasty little scandal in his resume would not be a great endorsement.
There have been other speed bumps on the college sports landscape. Baylor coach Art Briles prided over a successful program on the field but lost his job because his players misbehaved off it. Hugh Freeze coached Mississippi to a 10-win season but displayed some bad judgment in connection with an escort service and was ushered out of town.
As we approach the start of the college basketball season, the sport is sitting on a powder keg of shoe company-recruitment scandals that are likely to have a huge impact.
Now understand this. Head coaches in college football and college basketball know everything that goes on around their programs. They function not only as gurus of X’s and O’s, but as chief executive officers as well, running high profile and extremely profitable operations. For any of them to plead ignorance when high crimes and misdemeanors surface on their watch is ludicrous.
This is why Urban Meyer, recipient of a fancy $7.6 million salary for 2018 after a contract extension, is on the outside looking in right now as the Buckeyes, ranked No, 3 in the country begin workouts for the new season.
He fired Zach Smith a week ago after his assistant violated an order of protection. The problem is Smith’s domestic issues date back to 2009 when he was a graduate assistant on Meyer’s staff at University of Florida. Meyer chose to bring him along to Ohio State and looked the other way at repeated charges of misbehavior in Columbus.
You can’t question Meyer’s coaching credentials which include a 73-8 record at Ohio State, a national championship in 2014, two Big Ten Conference titles, and perhaps most importantly, a 6-0 record against arch rival Michigan. Judgment though, may be another matter.