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Will Meyer’s message hit home at OSU?

July 23, 2013
By SETH STASKEY - Times Leader Sports Editor (sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

Urban Meyer visited the Ohio Valley four weeks ago to speak at the Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame Banquet.

He talked adamantly about needing to replace the leadership that was lost from the 2012 squad that finished 12-0.

Judging by the press release issued Monday afternoon by The Ohio State University, the mission to find that leadership is clearly still ongoing.

Preparing for the opener against Buffalo on Aug. 31, quite honestly, has been pushed to the back burner despite the opening of fall camp being just a few weeks away.

No fewer than four players - Carlos Hyde, Bradley Roby, Marcus Baugh and Tim Gardner - were disciplined by Meyer and the university because of run-ins with the law over the course of the last 10 days.

"I have a clear set of core values in place that members of this football program are constantly reminded of and are expected to honor," Meyer said in the press release issued by OSU. "There are also expectations with regard to behavior. I expect our players to conduct themselves responsibly and appropriately and they will be held accountable for their actions."

Hyde has been suspended indefinitely after being a person of interest in an incident at a nightclub in Columbus' Arena District.

Roby was arrested and posted bond for an incident at a club in Bloomington, In. in which he was charged with "battery resulting in bodily injury."

In the press release, Meyer and OSU were still gathering information on Roby's case, but he will not attend Big Ten Media Days later this week in Chicago.

Baugh - a true freshman tight end from California - has been suspended from team activities and will sit out the Buffalo game. He's also had his scholarship stripped for the summer semester. He was arrested for a false ID and underage drinking.

Gardner has been removed from the squad and will head home to Indianapolis after he was charged with obstruction of official business.

Theses alleged transgressions are certainly going to lead to an interesting Big Ten Media Days, which begin Wednesday.

Meyer has been the subject of many in the national media because of the fact that he coached Aaron Hernandez, who is currently in a jail in Massachusetts awaiting a possible trial on a murder case last month.

The majority of the pieces written about Meyer have dealt with the high number of arrests and legal battles his players dealt with during his time at the University of Florida.

As I wrote in this space last summer when Meyer took swift action against the likes of Storm Klein, Jake Stoneburner and Jack Mewhort for their brushes with the law, the Buckeyes' head coach can only lead these players to the water. It's not his job to make them drink it.

Obviously, Meyer has to be more than just a coach, but monitoring some 120 young adults is extremely tough.

Once again, Monday, Meyer sent a clear message. There'd be real reason to rip Meyer if he allowed these players - regardless of the outcome of their cases - to skate free. And he's certainly not allowing that to happen.

Only time will tell whether or not that message will resonate with the rest of the team.

There's simply no place for goons and you'd like to think that Meyer's leadership committee, which Roby had worked so hard to become a member of, will take over the ownership of this team and make the younger players realize that their abilities on the field will only get them so far.

If you break a law, the police could care less how many yards you run for, how many interceptions you record or touchdowns you score. You'll be punished and treated just the same.

The alleged crime that Hyde is being investigated for puts football in perspective.

Domestic violence simply can not and should not be tolerated. I am all for innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but playing football at Ohio State University isn't a right.

Being a Buckeye is a privilege that only few have and it can be taken away in a blink of an eye.

For Hyde to put himself in the position to be even questioned in this case is simply unacceptable. Making wise decisions is paramount not only on the field, but in life. Unfortunately, the four young men didn't make wise decisions.

I certainly credit Meyer for his swift action and decisions. Again, the message had to be sent.

Whether or not it hits home remains to be seen, but the precedent is certainly set once again.

Let's be honest, expectations are high for the Buckeyes this fall as a lot of talent is returning - or at least expected to be returning.

From a football perspective, if Hyde remains suspended for the majority of the season, it's a loss. You have to consider a guy, who ran for 970 yards, scored 16 touchdowns, was coming off a brilliant spring season and had just recently been named to the Doak Walker Watch list doesn't come around all the time. Or does he?

The Buckeyes have depth at running back. Guys like Rod Smith, Bri'onte Dunn and true frosh Ezekiel Elliott could pick up the slack. You also can't forget that Jordan Hall returns this season.

The bigger loss could be felt if Roby is out of the lineup for an extended period of time. He's been named to several pre-season all-American teams and turned down a chance to leave for the NFL last spring to come back to be a 'leader' for the Buckeyes.

As Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin says all the time, "next man up."

Most of these alleged crimes revert back to an expression most of us heard from our parents when we were young, but at that time, we usually let it go in one ear and out the other. It's not until we're older that these things start to make sense.

Nothing good happens when you're out and about in the wee hours of the morning.

Hopefully, OSU players and young people alike will all learn that sooner than later!

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com

 
 

 

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