After nearly three weeks of investigation into his knowledge of and actions regarding the domestic abuse allegations against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, the Ohio State Board of Trustees reinstated head coach Urban Meyer on Wednesday night — though he’ll be suspended for the first three games of the Buckeyes’ 2018 season.
It was without a doubt the most pivotal moment in recent Ohio State football history, and the board was entrusted with making a decision that would have shaped the program for years to come.
Simply put, a lot hung in the balance, especially on the recruiting trail.
The Buckeyes currently hold commitments from 21 of the nation’s top prospects in the 2019 and 2020 recruiting class, and not a single one wavered in his pledge over the last few weeks despite the uncertainty surround Meyer’s status. Some mentioned the possibility of looking around at other schools if Meyer was ultimately not retained while also voicing their support for the man who they hoped would be their head coach in the coming years.
The overwhelming message? Just wait and see.
As much as they hoped the situation would resolve itself, there was a lot of uncertainty. Neither they nor Meyer had any control over what was about to happen next, so the staff preached patience to the commits and their parents.
Now that an answer has been given, the next step for Meyer and his staff is to mend a few fences.
Programs from all over the country have already used the last few weeks to negatively recruit against Ohio State, and the circumstances surrounding the investigation — particularly the domestic abuse allegations and how it relates to Meyer’s public perception — could make for some difficult conversations moving forward.
On the other hand, prospects and their parents haven’t been as receptive to negative recruiting as you might think. Take Washington D.C. four-star wide receiver Rakim Jarrett, a top target who mentioned a lack of character from the coaches hoping to take advantage of the situation in Columbus.
There were some dark clouds, but there’s no doubt Ohio State weathered the storm.
Of course, the Buckeyes lost a bit of momentum with a number of top targets in the short term — notably St. Louis four-star wide receiver Marcus Washington and Texas four-star athlete Peyton Powell, who both delayed their college announcements amid the investigation.
Both are unique situations, seeing as Washington had a great relationship with Smith and his termination shuffled the wide receiver priority chart quite a bit, while Powell was seemingly on the verge of committing to Ohio State before a late offer from Oklahoma — combined with the Meyer investigation — forced him to push back his timeline.
There’s still a chance the former ends up in Columbus, but the ship has seemingly sailed on the latter. And if that’s the only casualty of the entire situation, I think the Buckeyes will gladly take that result.