Meyer says assistant's firing best thing for Buckeyes

Zach Smith was fired Monday amidst domestic abuse allegations

Associated Press
July 24, 2018 - 2:27 pm

(AP Photo/Annie Rice)

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By JAY COHEN, AP Sports Writer

CHICAGO (AP) — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has a saying he uses with his program: Event + Response = Outcome.

The outcome this time was the dismissal of a longtime assistant.

Meyer is facing questions about his relationship with former receivers coach Zach Smith, who was fired Monday after an Ohio court granted a domestic violence protection order to his ex-wife last week.

"It's something our team lives by, E + R = O, you press pause and get your mind right and step up, press pause and gather information, get your mind right, gather energy, and then step up to do the right thing," Meyer said Tuesday of Smith's dismissal. "That's the position I hold. That's how we did that."

Smith, the grandson of former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, was charged in May with misdemeanor criminal trespass. At the time of the charge, Zach Smith's attorney said Smith's ex-wife had accused him of driving to her apartment after she told him they would meet elsewhere so he could drop off their son.

Smith pleaded not guilty last month. Courtney Smith asked for a civil protection order on Friday, and her request was granted. A hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 3.

Zach Smith was accused of aggravated battery on his then-pregnant wife in 2009 while he was a graduate assistant on Meyer's staff at Florida. The charge was dropped because of insufficient evidence, and Meyer, who calls the late Bruce one of his biggest mentors, brought Smith along when he took over Ohio State before the 2012 season.

"In 2009 Zach was an intern, a very young couple," Meyer said. "As I do many times, most coaches and people in leadership positions, you receive a phone call, first thing you do is tell your boss, let the experts do their jobs. We're certainly not going to investigate.

"It came back to me that what was reported wasn't actually what happened. And Shelley (Meyer's wife) and I actually both got involved because of our relationship with that family and advised for counseling and wanted to help as we moved forward."

The Smiths got divorced in 2016. Asked if Smith's firing had anything to do with the allegations becoming public, Meyer acknowledged it was a factor.

"I really don't care about that," Meyer said. "I try to stay focused on what's the most important thing. That's our players and our team.

"But I do understand the value. It's The Ohio State University is bigger than all of us. So you have to do what's right by them. And the timing. It wasn't just my decision. It was a group effort on several people that I rely on."

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Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

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