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Meyer says assistant’s firing best thing for Buckeyes

July 24, 2018
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Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer autographs a hat at the Big Ten Conference NCAA college football media days in Chicago, Tuesday, July 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Annie Rice)

CHICAGO (AP) — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has a saying he uses with his program: Event + Response = Outcome.

The outcome this time was the dismissal of a longtime assistant.

Meyer is facing questions about his relationship with former receivers coach Zach Smith, who was fired Monday after an Ohio court granted a domestic violence protective order to Smith’s ex-wife last week.

Part of his answer was to fall back on the slogan.

“It’s something our team lives by, E plus R equals O. You press pause and get your mind right and step up, press pause and gather information, get your mind right, gather energy, and then step up to do the right thing,” Meyer said Tuesday. “That’s the position I hold. That’s how we did that.”

Smith, the grandson of former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, was charged in May with misdemeanor criminal trespass. At the time of the charge, Smith’s attorney said Smith’s ex-wife had accused him of driving to her apartment after she told him they would meet elsewhere so he could drop off their son.

Smith pleaded not guilty last month. Courtney Smith asked for a civil protection order on Friday, and her request was granted. A hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 3.

Zach Smith was accused of aggravated battery on his then-pregnant wife in 2009 while he was a graduate assistant on Meyer’s staff at Florida. The charge was dropped because of insufficient evidence, and Meyer, who calls the late Bruce one of his biggest mentors, brought Smith along when he took over at Ohio State before the 2012 season.

“My comments about ’09, obviously a long time ago, but whenever you get an accusation, you contact your superior and wait to find out what happened,” Meyer said at Big Ten football media days. “You let the people do their jobs. You let, I guess, the legal course to run its course and then ask them, because they’re experts.

“It came back to me. We found out what happened. We met with both parties. We found there were no charges. Everything was dropped. There was a very young couple and I saw a very talented coach.”

The Smiths divorced in 2016. Asked if Smith’s firing had anything to do with the allegations becoming public, Meyer acknowledged it was a factor.

“I really don’t care about that,” Meyer said. “I try to stay focused on what’s the most important thing. That’s our players and our team.

“But I do understand the value. ... The Ohio State University is bigger than all of us. So you have to do what’s right by them. And the timing. It wasn’t just my decision. It was a group effort on several people that I rely on.”

Meyer said he probably will make a decision on Smith’s replacement by the end of the week. He might not have to look very far, with former NFL receiver and Ohio State alum Brian Hartline already on staff as a quality control assistant working with the team’s receivers.

It’s an uncharacteristic amount of upheaval for Ohio State so close to the season. The Buckeyes open against Oregon State on Sept. 1, and the expectations in Columbus are as high as ever.

Ohio State returns 49 lettermen from last season, when it went 12-2 and beat Southern California 24-7 in the Cotton Bowl. One of its deepest position groups is receiver, where Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Austin Mack are all back from a year ago.

“I think the main focus and the main goal for the wideout room right now is just to learn on each other,” Campbell said. “We need each other in a moment like this. It’s a huge loss, but I think we’ll move forward.”

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AP Sports Writer Mitch Stacy in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.

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Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap

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