The man unfit to be Bob Evans' Head Breakfast Coach gets his glorious ride into the sunset.
The internet broke my brain nearly three decades ago, so every day when I awake the first thing I do is read the news on a small supercomputer that damages my retinas. Sometimes big news causes me to viscerally react.
In the olden days, a man my age used to inflict his banal, everyday opinions on his beautiful family at the breakfast table before walking to the neighborhood factory to work a job that only required a high school education and paid $80 an hour in an era when houses cost $500.
In 2018, Millennials have Twitter. It’s basically the same scenario except the beloved family is replaced by an unruly mob of surly internet strangers and none of those jobs and affordable housing exist anymore. Also, banal observations last forever.
“I’m glad Urban is gone,” I tweeted on Dec. 4th when Meyer announced over the ashes of Northwestern that he would ride off into the Pasadena sunset after the Rose Bowl.
Naturally, a curious Ohio State fan asked why I was happy to wave bon voyage to the greatest football coach in university history. A fair question.
“He harbored an unqualified serial abuser for years simply because he was the grandson of a mediocre coach who once gave him a job in the 1980s,” I tweeted in my typical rude boy parlance that has earned me tens of admirers and legions of detractors who want to toss me into a volcano.
To further drive the point home because sometimes I just can’t help myself, I added Meyer was “also a dick who started J.T. Barrett over Dwayne Haskins in 2017 because Barrett was good at screaming at teammates before games.” O.K., maybe that was gratuitous.
Naturally this take appeared in Eleven Warriors’ Worst Takes of 2018:
The opinion itself is abysmal, but even if you're going to have a bad opinion, pick your timing a little better. I know the goal was to be edgy and piss people off, but the Internet doesn't need your help to be angry and miserable. Just sit this one out.
I have enough behind-the-scenes knowledge to know not every opinion that makes it into this annual column is the unvarnished opinion of the writer — in this case, my odious son who is nonetheless grounded until further notice — but it’s comical to suggest I shouldn’t tweet my opinion out of respect for the guy who makes $7 million a year to win football games. It ain’t like I shouted it through a bullhorn at his funeral.
But all college football media is public relations work, because journalism requires an adversarial relationship against people in power.
A lot of Buckeye fans react to critical thought the same way a slugs react to salt being dumped on their head. And I get it, the main appeal of sports is abandoning reality and embracing tribal propaganda. Lord knows I exploited that matrix for more money than I ever thought I would make typing words on the internet.
Which is why I wasn’t surprised to see commenters tap dancing on my 50-point loss in the 2018 General Election because I didn’t show proper decorum in a tweet about a mercurial millionaire mercenary who won as many national titles against the Buckeyes as with them.
I don’t write (or tweet) to make friends. I have enough of them, and they hate me almost as much as I hate them. Thankfully their years of verbal and physical abuse are why I can only laugh at commenters trying to make me feel bad.
The fact is, I am glad Meyer is gone in the same way I was when Jim Tressel resigned. The program had peaked under their guidance. I would have been skewered just the same back then, but history would have vindicated me as it will in 2020 when Notre Dame coach Urban Meyer takes a two-loss Irish team to the Independence Bowl.
Unlike Tressel, who was forced onto the sword for the noble crime of lying to NCAA “investigators” about players getting discounted tattoos, Meyer survived his inquisition and erased a season of erratic performances against subpar competition by shattering an above-par Michigan team in Columbus.
Meyer was lucky to make it that far. He should have been put out to pasture in August. But, for the first time that I can remember, Ohio State balked at putting the #brand ahead of the person. (Je Suis former university trustee Jeffrey Wadsworth.)
Thanks to a generous time-erase setting on his text messages that may have violated public records laws, Meyer never had to answer investigators’ questions concerning what he knew about domestic abuse allegations against Zach Smith in 2015. His wife texted him about it, but he must have missed that one.
Sadly, we may never know the full truth. But we do know Urban, thinking he had made it through through the saga unscathed, chose to lie about what he knew at Big Ten Media Days. His longtime agent left him after Meyer embarked on a bizarre media apology tour in which he repeatedly stuffed a Nike shoe into his moving mouth.
Powell police investigators wanted Smith charged in 2015. But Delaware County prosecutor Carol Miller didn’t even impanel a grand jury, because hey, it’s career suicide to prosecute an Ohio State coach and fail to earn a conviction. And in Central Ohio, even a taped confession might not be enough depending on the crime.
Powell police brass then chose to suppress all records involving Smith by taking the Columbus Dispatch to court until the controversy abated. I figured people would ask why the police went to such great lengths to protect their work from being made public. Most Ohio State fans just shrugged and asked why the Dispatch bothered to report about this now.
But even if you don’t think Meyer, who is renowned for his maniacal, hands-on management, didn’t know anything about any of that… Meyer deserved to be fired for allowing a loose cannon like Smith anywhere near a team of 18-22 year-olds for a week, let alone seven years.
He could have demoted Smith to an off-field role, like Tim Hinton. He didn’t out of respect to Earle Bruce, whom he sees as a second father. He tolerated stuff from Smith he would never tolerate from his players.
And if he were managing a family-owned construction business with sketchy finances and questionable ties to organized crime syndicates, the blatant nepotism would all be above board. But this is Ohio State, an institution of higher learning that prides itself on a higher standard. Or does that only count when we’re not talking about the highest-paid employee in the company?
This is all, of course, without mentioning a 31-point shutout loss to Clemson, a 31-point loss to five-loss Iowa, and a 29-point loss to seven-loss Purdue. Or that Meyer appointed his best man to coach linebackers and allowed Greg Schiano to run the same man-press scheme as he if still had Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore, and Gareon Conley.
I will always wonder what would have happened had Ohio State fired Meyer and allowed the team to rally around the guy that eventually replaced him, just like I’ll always wonder what if Meyer had replaced Barrett with Haskins in the Orange Bowl.
But we ain’t on that timeline.
Meyer gets to capstone his Buckeye career against a beatable Washington team, and everyone will pretend this season was as perfect as a Pasadena sunset. Barring a miracle, he will be shuttled on the shoulders of adoring fans into the echoes of Buckeye lore while announcers wax poetic about the “controversy” Meyer “endured” early in the year as tears stream down his face.
Columbus vendors undoubtedly have a tidal wave of t-shirts eulogizing the “Urban Legend” to unleash at the final whistle. They’ll make $30 million in profits because Ohioans have an insatiable thirst for graphic t-shirts. Can’t hate on capitalism, baby!
But this rapidly decaying blogger is thankful a Baby Boomer will almost assuredly never coach Ohio State again. Bring on the Ryan Day Era! Yes, his success will stand on the shoulders of Meyer’s—just like Meyer’s stood on the shoulders of Tressel’s.
I’m not saying Meyer should be whisked away to maximum security prison and is a reprehensible person consumed by a carnal desire for evil—just that he should have been fired in August. Two entirely different things, though I recognize most fans won’t see it that way. Oh well.
Meyer gets to ride off to a 21-gun salute with bags of money saddled to his horse, and I get to go back to not feeling ambivalent about the coach of my favorite football team.
Seems like a fair deal to me.