Urban Meyer whiffed on a question about Courtney Smith during his press conference, where all Ohio State personnel failed to issue her an apology.
USA TODAY Sports
An apology to Courtney Smith is a step in the right direction for Urban Meyer and Ohio State, even if we ignore the fact that it took Meyer 48 hours to craft a statement he could have easily issued when directly asked for comment – like during Ohio State’s news conference Wednesday night. Meyer dodged the question in favor of a bland, meaningless response.
Meyer was asked Wednesday, during a news conference announcing his three-game suspension, whether he had any comment for Smith, the ex-wife of former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith. His answer could be described as tepid at best, and at worst callous and utterly unsympathetic.
“I have a message for everyone in this: I’m sorry we are in this situation,” Meyer replied, in the same tone that defined his emotionless opening statement.
He struck a more contrite tone in a statement posted Friday to his Twitter account, with a direct apology to Smith “and her children for what they have gone through.”
“My words and demeanor on Wednesday did not show how seriously I take relationship violence. I sincerely apologize,” read Meyer’s statement.
Ohio State’s football program has “worked hard to educate and remind our coaches and players of the seriousness of relationship violence,” he continued. “I understand my lack of more action in this situation has raised concerns about this commitment.”
It may be that a coach with noted memory issues – as detailed in the findings of a two-week independent investigation – finally, after deep deliberation, recollected that his statement on Wednesday only served to underline the idea that he failed to grasp the gravity of the situation.
It’s more likely the impetus behind Friday’s apology is that Meyer realized he had bungled yet another situation. Add it to the list, and the list keeps growing: Hiring Zach Smith in 2012, keeping Zach Smith on staff in 2015, lying at last month’s Big Ten media days and deleting text messages more than a year old from his phone, to name a few.
Yet there is a positive: Meyer apologized. His response on Wednesday implied that he didn’t view Courtney Smith’s allegations as credible, that he was attempting to steer clear of any culpability or, worse yet, that he didn’t feel he needed to apologize – that he’d done nothing wrong, a mentality that would be as frightening as it would be disgusting.
If long overdue, the apology now implies that Meyer is willing to accept his responsibility. And in doing so, Meyer added, he intends “to use my voice more effectively to be a part of the solution.”
We’ll see if that’s true. But Meyer becoming a voice for awareness on the topic of domestic abuse – or “relationship violence,” as he put it – would be a worthy takeaway for the Buckeyes’ embattled head coach, who may return to the sidelines in September but will always be dogged by his part in the scandal.
Then again, Meyer’s apology marinated for two days before being dumped online in the early evening on a Friday. It doesn’t take a cynic to question whether Meyer is motivated by remorse or self-preservation.