Despite the wins and titles, Meyer has failed | VailDaily.com

Despite the wins and titles, Meyer has failed

Chris Freud

Stick to sports, Freud.

That's the sanitized version of emails I get when I step into controversial subjects such as Colin Kapernick, the NFL's national anthem policy and President Donald Trump or Lindsey Vonn talking about how she won't go to the White House and so on.

The problem with the simplistic "stick to sports" feedback is that sports are a mirror of society and are inexorably tied to current events.

Simply put, real life keeps on butting in on our idealized playground of sports.

The latest interruption is Ohio State head coach — for now — Urban Meyer, who has been placed on "administrative leave" for allegedly not reporting the domestic abuse in 2015 of one of his assistant coaches Zach Smith, who was fired last month.

By all accounts, Meyer's failure to come forward will cost him his job. The media is circling. It seems it's only a matter of time.

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This is a watershed moment.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

Meyer has won wherever he has gone.

He was 17-6 at Bowling Green, his first coaching gig.

He went to Utah and turned the Utes into Bowl Championship System-busters.

After a 22-2 record in Utah, it was off to the big time with Florida and national championships in 2006 and 2008.

Meyer took one year off to do TV work before taking over at Ohio State and the Buckeyes won the first College Football Playoff in 2014.

He's got three national championships, a career record of 177-31. He's 11-3 in bowl games and 6-0 against Michigan, a pretty important statistic for an Ohio State coach.

This sort of resume generally makes you immune to anything in the big-money world of college football.

Domestic violence is nothing new in the world of football. The video of Baltimore's Ray Rice ended his career abruptly in 2014, but usually players serve a suspension and come back to play.

What's fascinating about Meyer's plight is that he is being held responsible for an assistant coach's actions. Meyer never raised his hand against his spouse. He was, by all indications, aware of Smith's violent actions toward his wife and kept him on staff.

Speak out

It seems that Meyer's imminent dismissal is extreme, but it isn't. Domestic violence has been society's dirty secret for too long.

I know. To blow off the tension in his life, Pop came home and came out swinging when I was a kid. This wasn't a spanking. They were open-handed blows to my head.

I knew what it was like to dread coming home, not feeling safe at home, and reveling in college and moving here to live, both times knowing that I was and am safe and away from that.

To most, Pop was a hale fellow well met. People, who worked with him, were shocked at his memorial service to hear me and a few others tell tales of his temper. They never knew what happened behind the scenes.

Victims are often powerless. For me, was I going to call the cops for my father? It wasn't until I grew up that I realized that this wasn't normal. Mercifully, I finally got my growth spurt and got in his face, during an occasion I knew he was going to blow, and that ended it.

Girlfriends, spouses or any victims of domestic abuse often have no place to go. Do their friends or family believe them or do they have the financial means to leave? Do they think the most insidious of thoughts — that it was their own fault, perhaps that they had the abuse coming?

It becomes a perpetual cycle — unless someone breaks it.

By all accounts, Meyer knew and did nothing.

As a coach, yes, he's responsible for X's and O's. He's also a mentor figure for his athletes and his university. He's failed in the latter.

Meyers' three national titles, 177-31 career record and 6-0 mark vs. Michigan don't look as impressive now.