Lynn Bruce, the mother of former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith, alleged that Courtney Smith, Zach's ex-wife, vowed to “take Zach down and take Urban Meyer down with him” in a story published by Jeff Snook, a sportswriter who has written several books about Ohio State football, on Facebook on Thursday.
“She told me that not one time, but in fact she said it several times over the years,” Bruce told Snook.
Bruce alleges that when Courtney "found out five years ago that Zach had cheated on her, she was so angry that she vowed to me she would get back at him someday."
“And this is exactly what she did," Bruce told Snook. "She wanted to do as much damage as possible. She has been planning this for some time.”
Ohio State fired Zach Smith on July 23, three days after Courtney Smith filed for a domestic violence civil protection order against him. Ohio State placed Urban Meyer on paid administrative leave on August 1, hours after a pair of interviews by Courtney (with Brett McMurphy and with Stadium) in which she said Zach had abused her for years and suggested that Meyer – who had previously denied knowledge of the domestic violence allegations she made against him in 2015 – was aware of the abuse she had reported.
Bruce told Snook that she does not believe her son ever committed domestic abuse against Courtney, and that she would not have defended him if she believed he did.
From Snook's report:
“Each time the police would arrive and investigate, and each time there was nothing to back her claims of physical abuse,” she said. “It was her way at getting back at Zach. She would just call 911 over an argument, which she usually started. The Powell police got to know the situation. I don’t believe for a minute he ever struck her one time and neither does her own mother – and neither do the Powell police.”
Bruce said she never would have defended Zach if she thought her son had struck his wife.
“I was raised by my dad and when my kids were in school, I told them if anything happens that they are guilty until proven innocent,” she explained. “I would back the teachers or administrators. I talked to him about these issues and I would still love him, but if I thought he hit her, I would force him to get professional help. He was raised to respect women. I believe him and I witnessed so many incidents in which she was the aggressor … I know what happened and I also know he would never hit a woman.”
Snook also exchanged text messages with Courtney's mother, Tina Carano, who also told Snook that she did not believe Zach was physically violent toward her daughter.
Reached this afternoon, Tina Carano would only communicate via text messages and backed Lynn Bruce’s version.
When asked if she believed her daughter’s claims of physical abuse, she replied, “I believe that Zach was removing himself from an argument and I do not believe he intentionally abused her. I do not believe he actually intentionally swung or punched her … no.”
As far as ever hearing her daughter say she would “take Zach down,” she replied, “Yes.”
And when Meyer’s name was mentioned, she added, “I cannot quote her exact words as I don’t remember them word for word, but something to that extent. This is my daughter and I love her but I do not approve of what she has done and how it was done.”
Following that text, she did not respond to follow-up questions.
Bruce told Snook that Courtney and her mother have become estranged over Courtney's allegations against Zach.
“Tina believes Zach and she is on his side through all this," Bruce told Snook. "She knows what her own daughter is like. She thinks she has serious problems and she knows she planned this whole thing.”
Bruce also told Snook that she believes Meyer "did exactly what he was supposed to do" in handling the situation.
“He passed it on whenever something came up," Bruce told Snook. "Urban Meyer would never retain an assistant coach who beats his wife, no matter who that man’s grandfather is. I was heartbroken when he fired Zach.”
In addition to speaking with Snook, Bruce also shared her side of the story in an interview with 105.7 The Zone on Thursday.
Zach was first accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife in 2009, when he was arrested in Gainesville, Florida, after an altercation with Courtney, who was three months pregnant at the time. Zach was never charged following the arrest, but Courtney told McMurphy last week that Earle Bruce – Lynn's father and Zach's grandfather – and Hiram de Fries, a close friend of Meyer who is currently the special assistant to the head coach at Ohio State, pressured her not to press charges.
Lynn Bruce, however, said that Earle – who died earlier this year – never had a conversation with Courtney after that incident, she told Snook.
“Courtney called me at 3 a.m. about that fight and I told Dad I was driving down to Florida to deal with this. He wanted to go with me,” (Lynn) Bruce recalled. “When we arrived, I talked to Courtney alone and Dad went to speak to Urban and Zack. Dad never even saw her on that trip. Then when I heard her use Dad’s name in that TV interview, claiming he told her not to press charges, I wanted to jump through my TV set. Not only would he would never, ever tell her something like that, he never talked to her at all. That is just another thing she has lied about.”
Courtney also provided photos to McMurphy in which she appeared to have bruises on her arms, as well as a photo in which she appeared to have blood on her hand. Bruce told Snook that she believed any red marks on Courtney's arms, though, were the result of Zach trying to move her out of the way after being attacked by Courtney.
Asked to explain Courtney’s pictures showing her arms and neck with red marks, which reporter Brett McMurphy placed on his Facebook page Aug. 1, Bruce said, “I witnessed what she did several times: She would get in his face and block his path while screaming at him. One time when I was there, he was trying to walk down the steps and she blocked him so he couldn’t leave the house. He couldn’t get by her and he had to leave, so he just picked her up by the arms and placed her to the side, so he could walk by and walk out the door. When he did that, I am sure that would leave red marks on her arms. It would if he picked me up and moved me, too. Then she would take a picture.
“She was the aggressor. She was always very confrontational with him.”
Zach told ESPN last week that the picture showing blood on Courtney's hand resulted from an altercation in which he accidentally cut her with a tin of tobacco while trying to defend himself.
"She grabbed a can of tobacco that I had and she went to pour it on me, and when I put my hand up to stop her from pouring it on me, I closed the can and it sliced her hand," Zach said. "And anybody that has ever seen a can of tobacco, those metal cans are sharp."
Ohio State's investigation of Meyer is ongoing. Courtney's attorney, Julia Leveridge, said in a statement on Tuesday that Courtney had never been contacted by the university to discuss the allegations she made against Zach, but would "fully cooperate with the university's current investigation."
Zach's attorney, Brad Koffel, told USA TODAY's A.J. Perez on Thursday that Zach had not yet been contacted by the university and that as of Thursday afternoon, there were no plans to interview him as part of the investigation.