Ohio State fans showed their support for football coach Urban Meyer in a rally outside the “Horseshoe” on Monday.
USA Today reported more than 200 people showed up outside Ohio Stadium to support the Buckeyes coach, who was placed on paid administrative leave last week by the university while it investigates his handling of allegations of domestic violence against former assistant Zach Smith back in 2015.
Meyer fired Smith on July 23 after learning Smith had been charged with trespassing and was deemed by a judge to be a danger to his ex-wife.
Signs seen among the fans on Monday included “We stand with Urban,” “Urban Strong” and “Me Too! I support Urban Meyer,” USA Today reported.
Ezekiel Elliott’s father, Stacy, was at the rally and spoke in support of the coach. Ezekiel Elliott, now with the Dallas Cowboys, played a key role on the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship team.
A report by college football reporter Brett McMurphy last week indicated that Courtney Smith, Zach Smith’s wife at the time, had informed Shelley Meyer, Urban Meyer’s wife, of the alleged abuse in October 2015. McMurphy reported originally that Urban Meyer did indeed know of the allegations back in 2015, though in an interview with Stadium released later that day, Courtney Smith could only confirm she told Shelley Meyer.
Some fans at the rally took shots at McMurphy and ESPN, his former employer. McMurphy hasn’t worked for ESPN in more than a year, but he appeared on the network last week after his reporting became national news.
One sign read, “ESPN = FAKE NEWS.” On the other side, it read “FIRE ESPN! BRING BACK COACH URBAN.”
Zach Smith also was arrested for battery of Courtney Smith in 2009 when he was on Meyer’s staff at Florida, an incident Meyer said last week he reported to supervisors at the time. Zach Smith wasn’t charged in the case, as Courtney Smith declined to press charges. She said in an interview with Stadium on Wednesday night that she made that decision under pressure from Zach Smith’s family.
Meyer is 73-8 in his six seasons with the Buckeyes, including winning the 2014 national title.
Smith is the grandson of former Ohio State coach and College Football Hall of Fame member Earle Bruce, who gave Meyer his first college coaching job as a graduate assistant in 1986.
Offensive coordinator Ryan Day, who also coaches quarterbacks, is serving as acting head coach during the investigation, which the school expects to conclude in a two-week timeframe.
The Buckeyes open the season at home vs. Oregon State on Sept. 1.
—Field Level Media