Urban Meyer spent the first four minutes of his press conference Monday talking about football.
The rest of the time — nearly an hour — was spent explaining and in some instances re-explaining the events that led to this being the first time the Ohio State football coach had met with the local media since before the season started three weeks ago.
The Buckeyes host Tulane on Saturday.
1. Meyer stressed he does not condone domestic violence.
“When I was a child it was made very clear to me: it’s about core values and you can fix a mistake, (but) there’s no fixing domestic violence. When that takes place it’s dismissal, immediate removal of the person from the program. And I was not suspended for that. It was very clear in the report,” Meyer said.
He was referencing the results of an independent investigation commissioned by the university in August in light of a media report indicating Meyer knew about domestic violence allegations against assistant coach Zach Smith in 2015 but did not act on them.
2. The Powell Police Department told Meyer it concluded no domestic violence occurred.
Courtney Smith, Zach’s former wife, reported being abused by her then-husband in 2015, but a police investigation cleared Zach at the time.
“All I can go by is what I was told by law enforcement, and that was that there’s no domestic violence and this was a messy divorce with child custody involved,” Meyer said. “That’s what we were told.”
3. The PPD’s conclusion led Meyer to believe he could rehabilitate Zach Smith while on staff.
“Once I knew domestic violence was not part of the equation — how best to help these two young kids?” Meyer said. “Fire Zach Smith? Can he support that family? And what happens next? And I knew they were work-related. I thought all the work-related stuff was about this tumultuous time in his life. I wanted to help Courtney. I wanted to help the children. How do I do that?
“And I talked to several people: How do I do this? And we had very good success, like I said, over the years. Tried to put him in intense counseling so he could stabilize that family and be a good father, support the family the way he should.”
4. He admitted his faith in Zach Smith was misplaced.
Meyer initially thought Zach Smith had overcome the personal problems that were also impacting his work performance in 2015, but he was charged with trespassing after a disputed exchange of the couple’s children with Courtney Smith and later hit with a domestic violence-related restraining order. Meyer fired Smith when he found out about the latter in July.
“I erred in going too far to try to help a guy with work-related issues,” said Meyer, who found out via the university’s report Smith had also committed various misdeeds while on staff.
5. Meyer said he did not delete any text messages from his phone.
The university’s report included a note about Meyer seeming to be interested in keeping some contents of his phone from investigators.
He said that was not the case.
“My phone started locking up throughout the spring, and the I.T. person would take my phone and do whatever he did to increase the storage capacity,” said Meyer, who noted he uses his phone to send memory-hogging recruiting materials to as many as 100 recruits per day.
“I found out several months ago, I think late spring is what I was told, is he changed my setting to (save messages for) one year. I never changed a setting on my phone. I never changed a text message on my phone, and when I heard that, all due respect to the report, I did not do that. I don’t even know how to change a setting on my phone.”
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