In which the former head coach suggests leaking info on other programs' efforts to poach from his staff in order to boost recruiting and talks about the “he said she said” of the Zach and Courtney Smith abuse allegations
Heading into the weekend, Ohio State University released more than 2,000 pages of documents related to what former head football coach Urban Meyer and his staff knew about the reports Courtney Smith made to authorities alleging that she had been abused by her ex-husband (and then-OSU assistant coach), Zach Smith.
Meyer, who retired following the 2018 season but maintains a presence with the school, was eventually suspended for three games by the university for the manner in which he handled the allegations against Smith.
Amid the thousands of heavily redacted emails and text messages, which date back years, the document release included messages sent to and from Meyer in the days around the time Brett McMurphy reported that Courtney Smith had obtained a protection order against Zach Smith.Get news and entertainment delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our daily newsletter
On July 23, 2018, the day McMurphy’s story broke, Meyer received a text from Jerry Emig, associate athletic director for athletics communications, in which Emig writes, “This story just coming out on Zach. You’ll be asked what did you know and when? Stuff dates back to Florida,” where Meyer and Smith coached together previously.
Later that day, Meyer texted his staff to inform them he was relieving Smith of his coaching duties due to “core value violation and cumulative issues.” “‘Win the Moment’-most important thing is team and players at this time,” he wrote. “Zero conversation about Zach’s past issues.”
Also on the same day, Shelley Meyer, Urban’s wife, was part of an exchange in which concern was expressed that Smith’s response might be violent. “Afraid he will do something dangerous,” the message reads. “It’s obvious he has anger/rage issues already.”
On July 24, Meyer sent another message. “At banquet. Just checking on any thoughts on info that is in media,” he wrote. “A thought-all legal issues with Zach will b dropped. So I will have to answer why we released him. We know answer. Yet I won’t share all the other issues. Thoughts?”
Meyer later described the situation, which resulted in Zach Smith pleading guilty to disorderly conduct, as a “he said she said” in a message.
Earlier in the year, on Jan. 21, 2018, Meyer sent a text message to an individual whose name was redacted, venting about offensive coordinator (and current OSU head coach) Ryan Day being pursued for a job by the Tennessee Titans in which he said Smith was “offered wr/passing game Coord at Alabama. Went there to talk to Saban.” The job never materialized, though, and in messages Meyer noted that he talked Smith out of taking the position. “I told him to stay and he turned it down,” he wrote.
In a message to Smith three days prior, Meyer wrote, “After much thought, I want u to stay. I have personally invested far too much in u to get u in position to take next step. U need to step away from other situation and let's go win it all ....again.”
On Jan. 19, Meyer sent an outgoing message in which he proposed leaking Alabama’s attempts at poaching from his staff. “Should be Leak out that Alabama tries to hire Schiano, Grinch and Zach and all three turned them down? Recruiting?”
In December 2018, OSU announced that Meyer would teach a leadership course at the university following his retirement.
Needless to say, we stand by our past coverage.