Mac Engel

Why Ohio State’s hot mess could be major advantage for TCU come September showdown

In this Sept. 17, 2016, file photo, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, right, and then-assistant coach Zach Smith, left, gesture from the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. Ohio State expects to open fall camp as scheduled on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, but without coach Urban Meyer.
In this Sept. 17, 2016, file photo, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, right, and then-assistant coach Zach Smith, left, gesture from the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. Ohio State expects to open fall camp as scheduled on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, but without coach Urban Meyer. AP

To give you an idea how tuned in TCU is for its game against Ohio State, Horned Frogs running back Darius Anderson didn’t even know there was a “thing” going on at Ohio State.

“I’m not really on social media,” Anderson said.

Wise choice.

TCU defensive back Julius Lewis knew about that “thing” at Ohio State because he received a push notification on his phone.

“I really didn’t look too much into it,” he said.

And TCU offensive lineman Cordel Iwuagwu said, “I knew something happened with Urban Meyer. I’m not fresh on any details.”

TCU’s game against the state University of Ohio is not until Sept. 15, and there is a chance that the Buckeyes will look dramatically different than what we were expecting.

Ohio State is a scarlet and gray colored monster, and the Buckeyes are not nearly as intimidating without Meyer as its head coach. Next to Alabama’s Nick Saban, no coach scares teams like Urban, who since arriving in Columbus in 2012 has lost eight games.

Meyer has been placed on paid administrative leave as the school investigates claims that he knew about an allegation of domestic violence by his former assistant coach, Zach Smith, levied by Smith’s ex-wife.

Smith was recently fired, and Meyer has denied he knew about the incidents. Smith’s ex-wife told The Stadium Sports Network that she told Urban Meyer’s wife of the incidents.

Not sure how Urban’s marriage worked, but if you poll married people most will tell if you if one spouse knows, so does the other. And, in this case, “most” means “all.”

Proving that Meyer knew about these allegations, which allegedly occurred from 2009 to ‘15, may save Ohio State from having to push their football coach out.

During TCU’s Media Day on Thursday, head coach Gary Patterson did his best to address the question without saying anything about the situation. Because it’s none of his business, and he knows it’s none of his business.

“You don’t want to see any of that,” he said. “You don’t want to see anybody go through that.”

In this current climate, however, OSU administrators may not feel it has any choice other than to ax Urban.

And considering how Ohio State has handled incidents with high profile coaches in the past, there is a decent chance Meyer will be fired, or forced to resign well before OSU’s game with TCU at Jerry World. OSU fired successful football coach Jim Tressel and men’s basketball coach Jim O’Brien, both of whom had committed NCAA violations. Tressel was forced out in ‘11, and O’Brien in ‘04.

Based on the allegations alone, the large, central Midwest restaurant chain, Bob Evans, suspended its professional relationship deal with the man who had been promoted, and paid, to be its “Breakfast Coach.”

OSU’s relationship with Meyer is so tight that establishing a division between the two is nearly impossible. According to a story in The Columbus Dispatch, in 2015 OSU “secured a trademark designation for the name ‘Urban Meyer.’”

Ohio State’s first game of the 2018 season is not until Sept. 1 against Oregon State; it would be a surprise if there is no resolution to Meyer’s status by then.

Lewis offered an honest assessment of how a team dealing with an off-the-field distraction can be affected by such a scenario, and whether they can be problematic for a team on the field.

“I feel like they can be big distractors,” he said. “If somebody that high up (is affected), that’s your leader. Your focus might be shifted a little bit and you might have to shift it back. You still have a goal and you need to complete that goal. ... You get put in your routine and it shakes up your routine and you have to find a way to get back into that.”

If Ohio State does not have a resolution by Sept. 15, it will be a season-defining distraction.

If Meyer is gone, the Buckeyes won’t be the same. An assistant will be named interim head coach, and the entire staff will be worried and looking for their next job.

Players will be thinking of transferring. Players commit to the university, but the biggest reason they go to a specific place is the head coach.

“If the game was next week, I feel like it would have an effect, but they have plenty of time to put that behind them and get ready to play,” Iwuagwu said. “They will be fine by the time we play them.”

That’s the smart bet.

If Urban Meyer is gone when OSU travels to Arlington, however, the Buckeyes will be a hot mess.

Hear what coaches and athletes throughout the Big 12 conference have to say about TCU defense.

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