The Urban Meyer situation at Ohio State is about much more than a domestic violence case between an employee of his and his now ex-wife. It’s about the basic assumptions of the state over individual rights and attacks on the necessity of leadership to inspire out of people all they can give toward a goal of winning. Ultimately, the Ohio State case against Urban Meyer is an attack on success in an overall attempt to lower the bar of expectations for everyone, and to feed the narrative that student athletes have rights and should be paid, and a whole host of progressive causes that are attempting to rot the very nature of American culture. But let’s start with Courtney and Zach Smith who obviously had a bad marriage from the start and explore what Urban Meyer’s responsibilities were to his direct employee and his then wife. Based on some of the evidence provided here from all sides of the story, If I were a judge on this case I would have to say that Courtney Smith realized about a year into her marriage with the Ohio State wide receiver’s coach that she wanted out. Zach was a typical football husband, he ran around partying too much, he slept with other women, and he was very domineering. Those were likely all traits that Courtney liked about him when they were dating but that changed when she started to become a mother, like it does for most women.
Courtney tried to get out of the relationship but found she didn’t have income of her own, and that the more she pressed the more violent Zach became to control his public image as a big man at Ohio State. Courtney started thinking of the complications of a divorce where she’d have to share custody with her husband and knowing that he’d be a bad influence on her children decided to go for a complete severance to push Zach out of her life for good. So she latched onto the #me too movement in an effort to get her case tried in the court of public opinion instead of a regular court where she didn’t have any money or celebrity to fight with, as what she thought was her only option to separate herself from Zach, put him on his heels for good in defense, and retain custody of the children. She didn’t care who it hurt even if it brought down an entire university and big-time college football program so long as her little babies were safe as a result. She acted totally out of typical biological female concerns and the politics of the present gave her a platform, and she took it.
Zach didn’t do himself any favors. He was an admittingly terrible husband who had no business being married in the first place, let alone producing kids he had no intention of being a role model for. He essentially made a marriage impossible giving Courtney little other option. She probably thought like a lot of women do that she could change Zach. But like everyone finds out eventually, if a guy is broken when you marry him, he’ll still be broken thirty and forty years later—and likely many ex-wives in the rear-view mirror. But what was Urban Meyer supposed to do about it other than what he did? Even with the knowledge of pictures of bruises on one of his employee’s wives’ arms, for all he knows the couple could be into some kind of Fifty Shades of Grey masochism. You often can’t tell when it comes to the sexuality of any couple what is destructive and what is healthy because sex is such a primal thing. As an employer it is best to stay out of the lives of the people who collect a paycheck from you, for the good of all.
Yet Urban Meyer is being punished for what he didn’t know, with the assumption that he should have. Given that Courtney exchanged text messages with Urban Meyer’s wife making her part of the story, the expectation from the #me too movement is that he should have instantly acted on that information and terminated his wide receiver coach and turned Zach over to authorities. Here is where things go bad, because the assumption is that the state should handle these kinds of private matters between a husband and a wife—and if we accept this premise then all employers would then be expected to do the same. That means, and I’ll use myself as an example as an employer, that if I have an employee doing their job on a time clock and he goes home and beats the hell out of his wife for whatever reason, and I hear about it, I am supposed to turn him over to authorities for punishment. It doesn’t matter how valuable that employee may be to me as a paid employee for a process where he sells his time to me for the creation of a product, the assumption is that the state supersedes all those expectations and then takes priority over all matters of conduct. I can think of several cases right now of abuse that I know about, not within the employee and employer relationship but within our family where sticking noses into other people’s business isn’t the right thing to do. Obviously in the case of Courtney and Zach their marital dysfunctions were physical in nature, but in a similar way many couples suffer under mental abuse as well, where control by one spouse over the other is the ultimate gain. It’s not right for families to inject their imprint into a marriage even when their own kids are involved let alone an employer. Spouses have at their disposal the courts and they can divorce if they don’t want to be in the marriage. People outside the marriage shouldn’t get involved, even though they may have a child they love who is being harmed in the situation. All anyone should do is provide emotional support unless the situation turns violent and usually the signs of that are telegraphed far in advance. It is for the couple to work out, not the state.
Then there is this Project Veritas recording that was released by former players of Urban Meyer that is part of a trend these days to examine the ugly side of performance. This story fits with the story of the dysfunctional marital couple on Meyer’s staff because the outside attacks all have the same expectation. Ohio State paid Urban Meyer millions and millions of dollars to win football games, which helps with college recruitment, television contracts, merchandising and even political leverage. The student athletes suffer under lots of tenuous conditions in their pursuit of big NFL money, which most of them will never see, but some under Urban Meyer do. Like any employer Urban Meyer is expected to pull out of his employees, in this case the student athletes, whatever he can get to cause them to ram their bodies into other 300-pound people at full running speed in a hope to win whatever game they are playing that day. Winning means a lot of money and prestige and that is what college athletics are all about. Take away that drama and the sport loses its audience.
Urban Meyer obviously from what I can see was a good coach, he took a few extra steps here and there to make sure the people around him were well cared for, even Courtney Smith, even his players who were falling apart due to the rigors of their condition training. The success stories on the field often have lots of bodies lying around in the locker room that nobody sees, but as they say, the show must go on because that is the point of everything. But what is happening is that complaints are being filed under the guise of individual protection for the purpose of bringing in more state control and public acceptance. Urban Meyer because he is the head of one of the most successful programs in the country has a target on his back, and he seems to handle things well even considering the ridiculousness of these situations. It is not Urban Meyer’s job to intrude on the lives of all his employees because doing so invites major boundary violations that cause more state intrusion on individual rights. Telling Courtney Smith that she never should have married Zach when all she really wants to do is protect her kids from the bad influence of a corrosive spouse is a matter of her own personal management, and she simply pulled Urban Meyer into the story because she had no other financial resources to deal with the matter on her own. We can feel sorry for her and help her on an individual level, but we can’t change the rules of conduct just to accommodate her mistakes. But that isn’t what this story is about. The truth is that it’s about using Courtney Smith as a way to attack Ohio State and the performance of student athletes under the premise of the NCAA system, to change it with radical accusations whether or not the truth is involved. The attack is not on marriage, it’s on performance and the attempt to make such a measure extinct for the future.
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