Both the complexity of the on-going Urban Meyer investigation and the public’s obsession with it gain strength daily from conflicting pieces of irrefutable evidence.
If you’re predisposed to exonerate Meyer, your closing argument to cancel any opposing viewpoint is that fired assistant coach Zach Smith has never been convicted of domestic violence.
But if you’re of the opinion Smith intimidated or abused his ex-wife, Courtney, in some unacceptable way, you point to the photographs of her injuries and say, “What about the pictures? Did Urban do enough in responding to that?”
And so the arguments escalate, for and against, with Meyer either the unfeeling lout focused solely on winning or the victim of a smear campaign.
There are reports on Facebook, detailed and damaging, for each side to embrace to bolster their respective position.
One is either rock-solid because it came from a former ESPN reporter distinguished in his field, or worthless because that reporter no longer works at ESPN and he edited his post after its original publish date.
The other Facebook post is reflective of the actual truth because it eviscerates Courtney’s Smith’s character and motives, or it’s highly suspicious because its author is an OSU grad who’s authored four books about Ohio State football, one of which features a Forward penned by Urban Meyer.
Believe what you want to believe, because that is what we do.
Why use any additional information to illuminate or enlighten when it can be better deployed to deepen the trench where you’re already dug in?
The people involved and most consumers of this story have abandoned the search the truth, having already located and locked in on their own truth.
For me, the only matter at hand is, did something happen in the marriage and break-up of Zach and Courtney Smith that crossed the line of propriety in how he related to her?
The pictures move that question into the affirmative for me, switching all my other focus to the undecided matter in question: Did Urban Meyer and Ohio State’s athletic administration act appropriately with the belief/knowledge that Zach Smith crossed the line physically or psychologically with Courtney Smith?
It is possible for two things to be true...she could have been abused in some way, and he could have avoided arrest in every instance.
We know of an incident in Florida in 2009 and we know of an incident in Powell in 2015.
But even though Powell is here and Florida is far away and far removed from inspection nine years after the fact, it appears we will proceed with less detail on what happened in Powell than what we know from police reports from 2009 in Gainesville.
That’s because Powell Police have a bullet-proof way of stopping any inquiry into why Zach Smith wasn’t arrested or charged.
They won’t say, because they don’t give details on why a person wasn’t arrested when that person isn’t arrested.
You’ll have better luck throwing a paper airplane through a Kevlar vest than you will getting any answers out of a circular strategy that dismissive of transparency.
OSU’s investigative committee has asked for details of the October 2015 incident, only to be rebuffed.
So it appears the committee’s only enlightenment will come from its assessment of Powell Police Chief Gary Vest’s explanation about his department’s approach to high-profile domestic violence cases.
“We have to have great empathy for people in domestic violence situations where their livelihood is truly tied,” Vest told WSYX-Channel 6. “Because there’s a lot, a lot of stress involved.”
Smith’s job definitely hung in peril pending the dispensation of the October 2015 incident, because now that it’s come to light, and a civil protection order arose from a more recent custody exchange with his ex-wife, he’s been fired.
And, Vest is certainly right about the significant “stress involved” since Smith’s firing and since Meyer lied about his knowledge of the Oct. 2015 matter in Chicago on July 24.
How might Ohio State eradicate itself from this stressful predicament?
It clearly cannot satisfy both those who think Meyer deserves to be fired and those who believe he should be exonerated.
Often, the best compromise is one that leaves both parties feeling they won a bit, and lost a bit, so that neither side walks away completely satisfied.
So the answer of which course Ohio State takes is up in the air.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s way up in the air.
Around town, you will find an array of billboards touting OSU’s Wexner Medical Center with the singular statement: “Ohio State is leading the way.”
Perhaps the school will position its verdict on Meyer that he and his superiors did everything right, according to school policy, but still didn’t do enough, according to the expectations of an institution that won’t settle simply for minimum compliance.
“Ohio State,” the suits could say, “will lead the way in how domestic violence matters are handled.”
An accompanying two- or three-games suspension of the coach, and a corresponding salary penalty for anyone in the administrative chain, would give everyone something to grab onto, but nothing to cling to forever.
Meyer’s supporters would eventually get their coach back on the field.
Meyer’s critics would get the temporary satisfaction of seeing him sidelined against his wishes.
Long-term, whether such a rendering would be judged as fair would depend solely on the location of your foxhole in this uncivil war between two entirely different versions of the truth.
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES