Urban Meyer: Firing of Zach Smith ‘very tough call,’ in best interests of team
Urban Meyer was only half in the dark when it came to the off-field issues that led to the firing of one of his assistants, the Ohio State head coach stated Tuesday.
A day earlier, Meyer had announced that Zach Smith had been dismissed as the Buckeyes wide receivers coach. The move came on the same day that two new reports of alleged domestic abuse, one from 2009 and another from 2015, surfaced. It was also confirmed that Smith’s ex-wife, involved in the two previous incidents, had obtained a domestic violence civil protection order against Smith in connection to a May incident in which the coach was cited for criminal trespassing.
Meyer confirmed he was aware of the 2009 incident, which occurred when Smith was a member of Meyer’s football staff at Florida. In that incident, it was alleged Smith picked up his then-pregnant-wife, Courtney Smith, by her t-shirt “and threw her against the bedroom wall located upstairs in their apartment.” Another incident involving alleged domestic abuse, this one from 2015 when Smith was an assistant at OSU, came to light as well, although Meyer stated he was unaware of that one.
In fact, Meyer claimed that he has found no evidence that an incident actually occurred in 2015. That said, Meyer told the assembled media that he “is not going to get into” the whys and the timing of the dismissal.
Meyer said he was aware of a 2009 domestic incident between Smith and his then wife that occurred when he was on Meyer's Florida staff.— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) July 24, 2018
Meyer said he was not aware of the 2015 arrest that was reported yesterday. Police in Powell, OH refused this morning to confirm or deny that Smith was arrested in 2015. No record of charges exist in online court documents for that time.— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) July 24, 2018
Meyer said "what was reported" about the Smith 2009 incident was not accurate. Said he looked up the 2015 incident when heard about it and couldn't find anything.— Bill Rabinowitz 🗞 (@brdispatch) July 24, 2018
According to ESPN.com, Meyer, in front of a small group of reporters prior to appearing at the podium during the Big Ten Media Days this morning, labeled the firing of Smith a “very tough call” made in the best interests of the team.
“The most important people in our program are our players,” Meyer said. “We’re very clear of our expectations. We decided to make a change.”
It’s expected that, at least on an interim basis, former OSU wide receiver Brian Hartline will assume Smith’s on-field coaching duties. Meyer stated that a final decision on a replacement will likely be made toward the end of the week.