Ohio State University’s head football coach Urban Meyer may have saved his job, but he lost his legacy.
Over a nine-year period, Meyer protected an assistant coach Zach Smith through multiple domestic violence allegations. He protected Smith after he was cited for a DUI and he protected Smith after he violated multiple HR university policies.
Smith was only fired a few weeks ago when a reporter started asking questions.
The 2 ½ week investigation of Meyer’s program — conducted by the Ohio State University and adjudicated by the board of trustees and President of the Ohio State University (I’m not making this up) — decided to suspend Coach Meyer for three games.
Wednesday night, Meyer had his chance to address Smith’s ex-wife — the woman who alleges years of abuse. What did he finally say after weeks of contemplation and reflection?
“Well, I have a message for everyone involved in this: I’m sorry that we’re in this situation, and, I’m just sorry we’re in this situation.”
What the hell does that even mean?
My friend and ESPN TV/Radio host, Paul Finebaum stated: “I believe his biggest failing was not personally apologizing to the victim in all of this, Courtney Smith. Instead, he acted like he was the victim and that is extremely troubling.”
Chris Dufresne of the L.A. Times tweeted the whole episode succinctly:“Ohio State commission report would make great soap opera. Selective amnesia, flashbacks, restraining orders, drugs, affair with office secretary, sex toys, bad-boy grandson: “These Are the Days of Our Lies.”
Obviously, Meyer’s pathetic press conference wasn’t well received.
Here is what you can learn from Meyer’s PR disaster:
1. Be honest and deal with negative issues head on. Meyer’s robotic response is pure gobbledygook. After getting caught, Meyer was forced to admit that he lied during a press conference. But when he refused to comment on why he lied or shed more light on what he knew, he only added fuel to the PR fire. Had he proactively addressed this issue head-on years ago, he’d be talking about football right now, instead of suspensions.
2. Be empathetic to the victim. Stop thinking about yourself in these moments. Think about those suffering and hurting. It’s not about you. In this case, Meyer has yet to demonstrate even a morsel of empathy to the alleged domestic violence victim, Courtney Smith. Not only did Meyer prove himself to be insensitive to the issue of domestic abuse, he made matters worse when he threw his wife under the bus by saying she knew about the alleged abuse but didn’t tell him. EVERYONE sees that Meyer is trying to protect himself first. EVERYONE.
3. Be vulnerable and admit a lack of judgment. Showing vulnerability and a willingness to admit mistakes will not only make you a better human being; it will also put an end to the media/public outrage. With Meyer, he has not shown any vulnerability for his mistakes. This is a major misstep. Meyer appears dishonest, and worse he looks like he ran away from owning up to the issue just to salvage his career.