The trio of Cincinnati Bengals who played for Urban Meyer are hopeful his absence from Ohio State football is brief.
“He preaches to us respecting women and he's a very standup guy and tries to do the right thing at all times,” said defensive end Sam Hubbard. “Whatever happens, he will have done his best and I'm really hoping everything works out.”
Billy Price, the Bengals’ first-round draft pick and a four-year starter for the Buckeyes, expressed confidence the school will handle things the right way and Meyer, who was placed on administrative leave after being accused of knowing about allegations an assistant coach abused his wife but not reporting them, will be exonerated.
“I think the administrative leave was probably the correct move done by Gene Smith,” Price said of the Ohio State director of athletics. "I know Gene very well and he will have this corrected. I know for a fact.”
Price added that former players he has talked to are “in shock” after the explosive reports former OSU receivers coach Zach Smith abused his wife.
Smith was fired last week after violating a civil protection order, but the story resurfaced Wednesday when Courtney Smith revealed she had told Meyer’s wife, Shelley, about an abusive incident in 2015 and that she believed Urban Meyer also knew.
“You hear things,” Price said. “Guys talk, that's the nature of the way things are. I can't speak on behalf of Coach Smith in anyway, did he do it or did he not do it. Coach Smith was obviously respected enough to the wide receiver coach at Ohio State University. His personal life is none of my business, and it's not anybody's business. If indeed those accusations are true then those things will be addressed appropriately.”
Chris Worley, a linebacker who signed with the Bengals as a free agent, said he was caught off-guard by the reports about Smith’s behavior, too,
“It's something I definitely didn't know about when I was there,” Worley said. “I don't know the facts of it. I just see the headlines. It just doesn't seem right.”
With Meyer at least temporarily out of the picture, Worley is looking for some of the leaders he left behind to step up for the Buckeyes, who are ranked No. 3 in the first national coaches poll.
“It's not the first time we've had some type of turmoil or some type of adversity in that locker room, so I definitely have faith that they'll fight through it and make the right decisions every day,” Worley said. “Not so much outside of football, but football-wise, that's what it comes down to when things like this happens and you lose some key pieces like they have lost with the coaches.
“You don't know when, or if, Coach Meyer is going to come back from what I know. At the end of the day you have take the frustration or whatever it is out on the practice field and continue to get better. I do have faith that that's what they'll do.”
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What about Meyer’s replacement?
Interim coach Ryan Day has the confidence of Price.
“Best quarterback coach in America, well in the NCAA,” Price said. “It's going to be fine. Our system itself is this is what our expectations are, this is the way we run our system. It doesn't matter. Coach Meyer is the figure, but it's going to be fine. There are going to be no issues, guys are going to show up on Friday and it's going to be fine.”