Everything you Need to Know about Urban Meyer and Ohio State Football: The suggestions behind the controversy

The Urban Meyer situation at Ohio State is about much more than a domestic violence case between an employee of his and his now ex-wife. It’s about the basic assumptions of the state over individual rights and attacks on the necessity of leadership to inspire out of people all they can give toward a goal of winning. Ultimately, the Ohio State case against Urban Meyer is an attack on success in an overall attempt to lower the bar of expectations for everyone, and to feed the narrative that student athletes have rights and should be paid, and a whole host of progressive causes that are attempting to rot the very nature of American culture. But let’s start with Courtney and Zach Smith who obviously had a bad marriage from the start and explore what Urban Meyer’s responsibilities were to his direct employee and his then wife. Based on some of the evidence provided here from all sides of the story, If I were a judge on this case I would have to say that Courtney Smith realized about a year into her marriage with the Ohio State wide receiver’s coach that she wanted out. Zach was a typical football husband, he ran around partying too much, he slept with other women, and he was very domineering. Those were likely all traits that Courtney liked about him when they were dating but that changed when she started to become a mother, like it does for most women.

Courtney tried to get out of the relationship but found she didn’t have income of her own, and that the more she pressed the more violent Zach became to control his public image as a big man at Ohio State. Courtney started thinking of the complications of a divorce where she’d have to share custody with her husband and knowing that he’d be a bad influence on her children decided to go for a complete severance to push Zach out of her life for good. So she latched onto the #me too movement in an effort to get her case tried in the court of public opinion instead of a regular court where she didn’t have any money or celebrity to fight with, as what she thought was her only option to separate herself from Zach, put him on his heels for good in defense, and retain custody of the children. She didn’t care who it hurt even if it brought down an entire university and big-time college football program so long as her little babies were safe as a result. She acted totally out of typical biological female concerns and the politics of the present gave her a platform, and she took it.

Zach didn’t do himself any favors. He was an admittingly terrible husband who had no business being married in the first place, let alone producing kids he had no intention of being a role model for. He essentially made a marriage impossible giving Courtney little other option. She probably thought like a lot of women do that she could change Zach. But like everyone finds out eventually, if a guy is broken when you marry him, he’ll still be broken thirty and forty years later—and likely many ex-wives in the rear-view mirror. But what was Urban Meyer supposed to do about it other than what he did? Even with the knowledge of pictures of bruises on one of his employee’s wives’ arms, for all he knows the couple could be into some kind of Fifty Shades of Grey masochism. You often can’t tell when it comes to the sexuality of any couple what is destructive and what is healthy because sex is such a primal thing. As an employer it is best to stay out of the lives of the people who collect a paycheck from you, for the good of all.

Yet Urban Meyer is being punished for what he didn’t know, with the assumption that he should have. Given that Courtney exchanged text messages with Urban Meyer’s wife making her part of the story, the expectation from the #me too movement is that he should have instantly acted on that information and terminated his wide receiver coach and turned Zach over to authorities. Here is where things go bad, because the assumption is that the state should handle these kinds of private matters between a husband and a wife—and if we accept this premise then all employers would then be expected to do the same. That means, and I’ll use myself as an example as an employer, that if I have an employee doing their job on a time clock and he goes home and beats the hell out of his wife for whatever reason, and I hear about it, I am supposed to turn him over to authorities for punishment. It doesn’t matter how valuable that employee may be to me as a paid employee for a process where he sells his time to me for the creation of a product, the assumption is that the state supersedes all those expectations and then takes priority over all matters of conduct. I can think of several cases right now of abuse that I know about, not within the employee and employer relationship but within our family where sticking noses into other people’s business isn’t the right thing to do. Obviously in the case of Courtney and Zach their marital dysfunctions were physical in nature, but in a similar way many couples suffer under mental abuse as well, where control by one spouse over the other is the ultimate gain. It’s not right for families to inject their imprint into a marriage even when their own kids are involved let alone an employer. Spouses have at their disposal the courts and they can divorce if they don’t want to be in the marriage. People outside the marriage shouldn’t get involved, even though they may have a child they love who is being harmed in the situation. All anyone should do is provide emotional support unless the situation turns violent and usually the signs of that are telegraphed far in advance. It is for the couple to work out, not the state.

Then there is this Project Veritas recording that was released by former players of Urban Meyer that is part of a trend these days to examine the ugly side of performance. This story fits with the story of the dysfunctional marital couple on Meyer’s staff because the outside attacks all have the same expectation. Ohio State paid Urban Meyer millions and millions of dollars to win football games, which helps with college recruitment, television contracts, merchandising and even political leverage. The student athletes suffer under lots of tenuous conditions in their pursuit of big NFL money, which most of them will never see, but some under Urban Meyer do. Like any employer Urban Meyer is expected to pull out of his employees, in this case the student athletes, whatever he can get to cause them to ram their bodies into other 300-pound people at full running speed in a hope to win whatever game they are playing that day. Winning means a lot of money and prestige and that is what college athletics are all about. Take away that drama and the sport loses its audience.

Urban Meyer obviously from what I can see was a good coach, he took a few extra steps here and there to make sure the people around him were well cared for, even Courtney Smith, even his players who were falling apart due to the rigors of their condition training. The success stories on the field often have lots of bodies lying around in the locker room that nobody sees, but as they say, the show must go on because that is the point of everything. But what is happening is that complaints are being filed under the guise of individual protection for the purpose of bringing in more state control and public acceptance. Urban Meyer because he is the head of one of the most successful programs in the country has a target on his back, and he seems to handle things well even considering the ridiculousness of these situations. It is not Urban Meyer’s job to intrude on the lives of all his employees because doing so invites major boundary violations that cause more state intrusion on individual rights. Telling Courtney Smith that she never should have married Zach when all she really wants to do is protect her kids from the bad influence of a corrosive spouse is a matter of her own personal management, and she simply pulled Urban Meyer into the story because she had no other financial resources to deal with the matter on her own. We can feel sorry for her and help her on an individual level, but we can’t change the rules of conduct just to accommodate her mistakes. But that isn’t what this story is about. The truth is that it’s about using Courtney Smith as a way to attack Ohio State and the performance of student athletes under the premise of the NCAA system, to change it with radical accusations whether or not the truth is involved. The attack is not on marriage, it’s on performance and the attempt to make such a measure extinct for the future.

Rich Hoffman

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Jim Tressel, John Kasich Speak From the Fires of Columbus

The nation’s eyes were on Columbus, Ohio March 8th, 2011 for more than one reason, but shared a common sickness.Here is a clip from Governor Kasich’s State of the State speech and the reaction from those that don’t agree with S.B.5. Of note is the teacher upset that she is about to lose her retirement.

One thing that we must wonder is where did those people riding the system with such wonderful benefits think the money was coming from? With all their education didn’t they do the math? Did they think the system could grow and grow and grow without the revenue running out at some point?

The answer is, no, they didn’t. Because such realities are ugly truths that school administrations and other tax payer funded organizations seek at every opportunity not to consider.

For Police and Firefighters, they use a perceived “danger” to justify their extraordinary costs. “We run to danger when others run away.” It takes an argument away from logic and places it in emotion, so the people who fund the whole business don’t think about the reality, because most people want to run away from danger and will gladly throw any amount of money at a situation to “feel” safe.

But in schools, the way they disguise their perils is through sports. Sports are a wonderful unifying factor that virtually everyone can sympathize with and it keeps people entertained and from prying too deeply into the secrets that are pushed under the carpet.

This is why when it was discovered that Jim Tressel, head coach of the OSU Football Program had covered up improprieties at Ohio State University that many on the inside were well aware of, or had plausible deniability, but on the outside Ohio State is marketed as a beacon of academic and athletic excellence. So to appease the growing anger at having been caught attempting to cover up improper behavior from players on the football team, the school imposed a two game suspension and fined Tressel $250,000 of his $3.5 million annual salary.

For details of those improprieties listen to this exchange between Bill Cunningham and Lance McAlister of 700 WLW.

Ohio State hopes that the NCAA will be appeased and not implement further punishment to the football program. After all, Ohio State is one of the largest universities in the country. Its football team is nationally recognized and in the end, this is wonderful advertisement for the school that sells a tremendous amount of merchandise to former alumni and potential students. It’s big business.

To understand that business a bit I refer to the great film, The Program staring James Caan which came out in 1993. Caan reminds me a lot of Jim Tressel in that film so if you want to understand the situation of college football, and how it is used to sell the university system to millions of fans, have a look at this clip.

Improprieties are routinely overlooked because it’s a competitive world especially in sports, and the difference between winning and losing for a university is millions of dollars. But why? Because if the public perception can be built around a “program” and the public feels their money is going to produce a winner, people have shown time and time again that they are willing to look the other way to have victory.

Much of the film The Program, James Caan’s character is putting out fires from his players that are constantly getting in trouble. But as Caan said in a review board considering suspension of the star quarterback, “70,000 people don’t come out on a Saturday to see other students do math! They come out to see a star!”

Ohio State and it’s fans will seek quickly to put this whole issue behind them, and on opening day it will be forgotten, except for Tressel’s absence and the suspension of the other suspended players, because everyone wants to look the other way, because the fans, students, administration, even the sports world want to discuss a winner.

How does all this apply to John Kasich’s speech, which occurred just hours before the Tressel press conference? Well, because tax payers are finally out of money to throw at police and firefighters that run into danger while the rest of us run away. Many of us, me included, are saying “I’ll be happy to run into danger if it will save me some money.” Danger doesn’t impress me as something to avoid.

And the whole teaching profession has hidden carefully behind the marketing machine of sports. Even small schools have sports programs that communities will seek to attend on an autumn Friday evening. The dirty little secret is that when people look back on their education days, they usually remember the things they did, the games they played and the events they did with their friends as opposed to what they learned on a Thursday in February during history class. Most of the teachers in student’s lives come and go as a montage of faces. Occasionally a teacher here and there jumps out as exceptional, but for the most part the education process is viewed as something to be endured, not embraced and because of that little fact, the education finance system has placed band-aid after band-aid on the situation. Administrators attempt to whisk improper sex cases and other improprieties between students and teachers under the carpet behind public relations consultants and friendly newspapers in the trade-off for sports information. After all, sports pages occupy whole sections of newspapers and reporters need content to fill those pages. And for some households, the sports page offers entertainment that their own child may actually be a part of, and that’s exciting.

Discussion of the blurred lines between education and sports must occur in order to discuss the revenue needs of those institutions. This is something that will come under increasing scrutiny, especially when it comes to School Choice as a spotlight on academics will become the focus with less attention applied to sports programs.

The battles that our society normally regulated to football players on a football field are now migrating into finance and politics, because the real fight has been discovered to be there, not in an entertainment venue between the hash marks. The world is changing because of that shift and those that cling to the old model will find their eyes filled with tears because in this game there will be winners and losers, just like in football. And we can no longer hide those tears with the cheers of football, and the sins that are committed all in the name of winning, because that ethical approach has bankrupted us both financially and morally.

Just look at Jim Tressel, the poster boy of both finance and ethics at Ohio State University to understand what Kasich is trying to protect Ohio from.

Rich Hoffman