Presser Bullets: Urban Meyer Holds His First Press Conference Since Return From Suspension

By Dan Hope on September 17, 2018 at 12:43 pm
Urban Meyer

With his three-game suspension from Ohio State now complete, Urban Meyer met the media on Monday for the first time since his suspension was announced on Aug. 22.

Meyer spent about 55 minutes speaking and answering questions from the media, with the vast majority of his comments and questions asked being related to his suspension and how he handled the domestic violence allegations against and other misconduct by former wide receivers coach Zach Smith.

That said, Meyer started his press conference by giving his thoughts on Saturday's game against TCU and also answered a couple questions about football-related topics, including the health of star defensive end Nick Bosa.

A bullet-point recap of what you need to know from today's press conference:

  • Meyer began his press conference by praising the "incredible effort" of the Buckeyes in their 40-28 win over TCU.
  • Meyer named Isaiah Prince, Michael Jordan, Thayer Munford, Demetrius Knox, Malcolm Pridgeon, J.K. Dobbins, K.J. Hill, Johnnie Dixon, Binjimen Victor, Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell as champions on offense. Nick Bosa, Robert Landers, Jonathon Cooper, Davon Hamilton, Malik Harrison and Jordan Fuller were champions on defense. Dwayne Haskins was player of the game on offense, Dre'Mont Jones was player of the game on defense and Johnnie Dixon was player of the game on special teams. Johnnie Dixon was special teams player of the game, and Meyer said Jahsen Wint is playing "exceptional" on special teams. 
  • "I knew Coach Day was a difference-maker when we hired him. His professionalism and what he's done has been phenomenal."
  • Meyer also thanked Ohio State's fans for the support they showed the team in traveling to Texas for Saturday's game, and the players for how well they performed. 
  • On what he said at Big Ten Media Days: "I want to be very clear that there was zero intent to mislead." Meyer explained that he didn't clearly understand the questions that were asked. "I need to do a better job of listening."
  • Meyer says both he and Gene Smith told Zach Smith that he would be fired immediately if he found out he had committed domestic violence. Meyer said the reports he and his staff received indicated that Zach did not commit domestic violence, so he made the decision to continue to employ Zach.
  • Meyer said Zach Smith received multiple job offers from other schools before this season, but made the decision to stay at Ohio State because he wanted to stay close to his children.
  • "I have never deleted a text message. I have never changed a setting on my phone." Meyer said an IT person changed the setting on his phone to retain messages for only one year last spring, because it's not uncommon for him to send more than 100 text messages a day to recruits, but that was months before Ohio State's investigation.
  • Meyer said he watched Ohio State's first three games at home with his family. Acknowledged that he had to leave the room at times, and ask his daughters for updates, because it was too hard to watch.
  • "My love is unwavering for Ohio State. Even moreso now." Says he has a "great relationship" with university president Michael Drake and is very close with athletic director Gene Smith, and he apologized to Drake for putting him in this situation.
  • Meyer reiterates once again that he did not condone domestic violence, and said he was suspended for going too far in trying to help Zach Smith. 
  • Meyer said the university typically handles his tweets, but he made the decision to tweet the statements he did because he felt there were things that needed to be cleared up.
  • "Ryan Day is elite, but there's other elite coaches on our staff, and I'm very thankful for them."
  • "I'm very healthy," Meyer said when asked about memory loss. Said the investigative report was so transparent and thorough that it included that, but it didn't necessarily influence his decision-making.
  • "I did not lie to the media. I did not do a very good job (in answering questions at Big Ten Media day) ... Did I turn my back to domestic violence? Not one bit."
  • Meyer said Zach Smith received "glowing reviews" from the two previous coaching staffs he worked on, and did an excellent job as a coach and recruiter in his first three years on staff (2012-14). "In hindsight ... I did not make the right decision."
  • Meyer said that when he was told by Brian Voltolini in July that the media might ask for his access to his phone, he said, "Don't worry about my phone. There's nothing to hide on my phone."
  • Meyer said there were work-related issues with Zach Smith in 2015, including being late for several meetings.
  • "Did you contact the police? I'm not allowed to talk to the police," Meyer said in regards to those who said he should have tried to find out more about what happened in 2015.
  • Meyer on Ryan Day and the coaching staff: "He's done phenomenal. This coaching staff's done phenomenal." 
  • Nick Bosa is getting further tests this week on an abdominal and groin issue and will not play Saturday against Tulane.
  • Do you believe Courtney Smith was ever a victim of domestic violence? "I can only rely on the information I received from the experts."
  • Meyer said he "always thought" he fostered an environment where people would bring negative information to his attention, but said he and Gene Smith have had to re-evaluate to make sure that environment exists in the wake of the allegations of misconduct against Zach Smith.
  • Meyer said Tom Herman and Zach Smith were both told "they'd be fired if it ever happened again" after their strip club visit.
  • Meyer reiterated that Shelley Meyer never shared text messages with him from Courtney Smith.
  • "It's not uncommon for me to sent a group text message out (to his players) on a Friday night: Title IX = Respect."
  • Meyer said there are four pillars that he asks his staff to bring constant awareness to: Domestic violence, opioid abuse, mental health and concussions.
  • On how he handled the Zach Smith situation: "Where I made a mistake is not asking enough questions, I believe, and a complete reliance on law enforcement ... This was about trying to help a troubled employee with work-related issues."
  • "I've been accused of helping players too much, and giving them too many opportunities. That's an accusation I accept."
  • Is it possible for a head football coach to have too much authority? "Absolutely," said Meyer, who said he made the request to have a full-time compliance officer in the building when he arrived at Ohio State, which had not been the case before.
  • How much better can Ohio State's offense get? "A lot better."
  • On the press conference the night he was suspended: "I did not do well." Said he was exhausted after being in the building for 12 hours, as well as dealing with the investigation for the previous two weeks.
  • On what his message to Courtney Smith would be now: "I'm very sorry. No two children and a wife should go through this."

Eleven Warriors will have much more coverage from Meyer's press conference later this afternoon, so stay tuned.

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