It's Your Job To Know Comment Count

Brian August 2nd, 2018 at 11:18 AM

[Bryan Fuller]

It doesn't matter whether Urban Meyer knew what Zach Smith did to his wife. It didn't matter if Joe Paterno knew. It didn't matter if Lou Anna Simon knew. All three of these people were or are the superiors of people who can fairly be described as evil, and we are now coming to a society-wide revelation that systems that allow abusers to continue unchecked for years are designed to do so. People in charge of massively failed systems do not get a pass because their system sucks.

Penn State was designed to allow Jerry Sandusky to continue operating well after his mysterious departure from the program. He used Penn State facilities to abuse children for years after his official departure from the staff. That departure was never explained despite requiring explanation: extremely successful 55-year old defensive coordinators do not simply evaporate from college football. Anyone poking around the edges would have found out. That it went on so long is by design.

Michigan State was—is—designed to allow Larry Nassar to operate for years even after reports started filtering up the ranks. Nassar was allowed to see patients for 16 months while he was under investigation for sex crimes. His direct superior is also a sex criminal whose behavior was reported to no avail. The Michigan State board of trustees offered their strong support for Simon even after the scope of the criminality became clear, and hired an ancient toad crony to try to sweep things under the rug.

The only way Urban Meyer did not know about Zach Smith is if his entire program is designed to keep that knowledge away from him. Saying he might not know is no defense. It is worse for Meyer if he ran the kind of program where the head coach did not know serious, damning information about one of his assistant coaches when every one of his coaches' wives knew, when the police knew, when fucking bloggers knew:

There are programs like that. There are programs where the biggest sin in the business is telling the head guy what you're up to. Jim Tressel ran a "no snitching" program, and then a lawyer with some very wrong ideas about how Ohio State wanted to run things made the cardinal mistake: he told the head guy what people were up to. The Ohio Bar gave him some misconduct runaround in the aftermath because no deed against the wishes of the program goes unpunished.

It's one thing when you don't want to know about some kid exchanging services for money. But "I don't want to know" is systemic. It spreads. Ohio State learned nothing. Their lesson from the snitching incident was never learned because that entire program was indignant that the NCAA had the temerity to enforce its "no lying to us" rules and fell ass-backwards into an elite coach who just inexplicably left a program he had two titles at. When that guy decides to import an already-established domestic abuser from his previous job, well, nobody asked you about it.

Ohio State was designed to shelter Zach Smith. Urban Meyer's programs at two different unversities were designed to shelter Zach Smith. Meyer's level of knowledge is irrelevant except in an after action report. If Urban Meyer didn't know it's because he didn't want to know. It's his job to know. It is his job to know if any of his players have a jaywalking citation. It is 1000% his job to know whether the flagship institution of the state of Ohio is accommodating a serial abuser.

It is your job to know. If you don't know, you shouldn't have a job.



August 7th, 2018 at 2:09 PM ^

I agree with the thesis that Meyer should have known, but, after that, this is classic yellow journalism (in a bad way) by someone with obvious biases.  The writer loses all credibility with me when he accuses the State Bar of Ohio of acting unethically based on a report in a newspaper story that the OSU bar was examining a claim that the attorney who reported the tattoo story had violated attorney-client privilege.  That's the bar's job.  Did the bar find that the attorney had violated attorney-client privilege? No.  Did the attorney complain about the bar investigating?  No.  He knows it was the bar's job.

We don't know the full Meyer story yet, but he admits he knew and claimed that he reported it.  At the moment, we have two (two too many imho) claims of wife abuse.  Meyer and his wife counseled the abuser, who denies the second incident at lest.  I don't believe denials in these types of situations without extraordinary proof, so I imagine the the full story will be very ugly.  But we don't know yet.

Nor do we know MSU.  That was a sex criminal doctor with a sex criminal boss in women's gymnastics.  It involves people believing a doctor, but what does that have to do with big money football? At the moment, nothing, although that may change. 

When a story makes one feel self-righteous and attacks people that you dislike for any reason, it's time to put on the critical thinking glasses to make sure that there's something there.  

Again, I'm sorry.  I agree with the thesis.  I believe the wife.  But this blog post would not, imo, receive a good grade in a journalism class.




August 2nd, 2018 at 11:26 AM ^

completely agree -- anyone who is a people manager understands that they are mandated to report this stuff as soon as they catch 1 ounce of it.  No way you pay a guy $6M a year and then expect him to turn a blind eye to it.  I get paid 1/100th of urban, and if I didn't report that someone on my team was potentially beating their wife, I would've lost my job in a nanosecond.  

Occam's Razor

August 2nd, 2018 at 6:21 PM ^

Articles and writing like this is exactly why I will always come back to MGoBlog no matter how many horrible ease-of-life design decisions they make with regards to this website's format. 


Bravo Brian bravo. This type of article has way too much nuance for the average American. 


August 2nd, 2018 at 11:29 AM ^

Short but strongly to a point I haven't seen many people make. The idea of "ignorance is bliss" is not applicable when it's your job to not be ignorant. Well put Brian.


August 2nd, 2018 at 11:31 AM ^

Couldn't agree more.  

In my mind there's no way Gene Smith can stay either.  He came into the culture that Tressel created, learned nothing from his departure, and allowed Meyer create one that may be worse.

I'd be shocked if he gets a 3rd chance.


August 2nd, 2018 at 11:52 AM ^

There is no way in hell that police arrests, domestic violence, and the entire coaching wife staff knew about what was going on without the Athletic Director also knowing.  When you add in that a police report was changed after the fact, there is no other choice than to believe it's a Baylor/PSU/MSU level issue where authority outside the university is also involved.  That being the case, there is no chance in hell that the football coach had control of it.  Control on that level rises to the AD and/or school president (all of MSU/PSU/Baylor fall in this category).  I wouldn't be surprised of the OSU BoT also knew.  Wouldn't be surprised, at all...


August 2nd, 2018 at 12:38 PM ^

I'm not sure Gene Smith should be fired.  I'm not disagreeing with you.  I'm just not sure yet.

Reason is this:  How far up the accountability chain does should something like this reasonably go?  You have:

Level 1 - The perpetrator himself

Level 2 - His boss (Urban Meyer)

Level 3 - The next boss (Gene Smith)

Level 4 - The next boss (Michael Drake - OSU president)

Level 5 - The next boss (board of regents?)

Level 6 - ???

I mean, by the same argument that Gene Smith should be fired, you could say Michael Drake should be fired for hiring someone like Gene Smith who would hire someone like Urban Meyer.  And so on up the levels.

Again, I'm just not sure.  I'm curious on folks' perspectives on this.




August 2nd, 2018 at 2:21 PM ^

The athletic department is almost completely autonomous. It is not reasonable to assume Gene Smith shared this information with him, Drake has much bigger fish to fry. The call for Gene Smith's firing is not entirely based on the idea he knew about these incidents but that he has created a culture of looking the other way. 

Mr Miggle

August 3rd, 2018 at 10:22 AM ^

Yeah, blame Delany. How much control would we like him to have over our school?

OSU inserted a new clause in Meyer's contracted about his duty to report Title IX violations and immediately put him on leave when this story broke. - Doesn't that actually demonstrate a significant change in their culture?

How has Delany done with issues that are under his control? The Big Ten acted pretty quickly to enact a concussion protocol after the Shane Morris incident. They led the way in guaranteeing 4 year scholarships.

Please don't push me to defend Delany. I don't enjoy it.




August 2nd, 2018 at 11:32 AM ^

FWIW, the standard the relatively new (since 2014) president at OSU, Michael Drake, used when confronted with reports of sexual misconduct within the marching band was that the director "was aware or reasonably should have known about" it, which seems like a highly relevant standard here. 

Obviously, marching band director =/= national title winning football coach, but the guy was incredibly popular with widespread fan support, claimed that no one told him about it, and he was fired nonetheless.