Urban Meyer, Ohio State and Big Ten Compromise Integrity for a Big Football Game (Again)

By Scott Page
urban meyer
Andrew Weber–USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State, Urban Meyer and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany are made for each other. They all exude a “Holier than thou” attitude about doing things the right way only to compromise those (fabricated) standards every time there’s a big game approaching. That common thread was reinforced (Big) ten-fold when all parties agreed that two Buckeyes players ejected from last week’s Michigan game for fighting should be allowed to play in Saturday’s conference title game against Michigan State.

For Meyer, lax standards are nothing new. More than 30 Florida players were arrested during his six years as the Gators’ coach. The New York Times reported that 41 players on UF’s 2008 BCS championship squad were arrested at Florida after leaving Florida or both.

Chris Rainey was arrested for texting his girlfriend, “It’s Time to Die, *****.” Did Meyer, the father of two girls, dismiss him from the team? Of course not. Rainey helped the Gators win the 2008 title and later went to the NFL, only to be cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers after a domestic violence arrest.

Will Muschamp dismissed Janoris Jenkins from Florida’s team in 2011 following a pair of arrests. Jenkins, in a very revealing remark, made it clear such accountability wasn’t part of Meyer’s program. “No doubt, if coach Meyer were still coaching, I’d still be playing for the Gators,” Jenkins said. “Coach Meyer knows what it takes to win.”

It’s a skill Meyer is apparently teaching to his current school and conference. But maybe we’re being too hard on Urb. After all, Aaron Hernandez was only questioned about a Gainesville shooting while playing for him.

Meyer professed things would be different five months ago at Big Ten media days: “I want to make sure our punishment is as hard or harder than any discipline that’s out there.

“That’s maybe where I’ve changed over the years. Even as a first‑time offense from a freshman, I want to make sure we’re setting the tone.”

Funny, because that first-time offense by a freshman he spoke of with such righteousness did come to pass last week when running back Dontre Wilson initiated a near bench-clearing brawl at the Big House. Wilson and guard Marcus Hall, both starters, were ejected from the game. On his way off the field, Hall issued Wolverines fans a double-barreled middle-finger salute.

In defense of his decision not to act, Meyer cited a rule that called for players involved in fights to serve a one-game suspension. He said that he would not punish the Hall and Wilson because they had already missed the rest of the Michigan game due to ejection.

What was it Meyer said at media days again? Oh yeah, “I want to make sure our punishment is harder than any discipline that’s out there.” Unless there’s a big football game approaching, of course.

Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith backed Meyer’s decision and said he would support any decision handed down by the Big Ten. Well, the Big Ten didn’t hand down any suspensions either, instead issuing a pathetic public “reprimand” for the players involved in the fight. Remember, there’s a huge football game this weekend, and the Buckeyes are the league’s only shot at a BCS title.

It’s the same old song and dance for this hypocritical lot.

Remember when THE Ohio State was “Free Tattoo U?” Remember when former Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel was forced to resign in May 2011 for lying to the NCAA and hiding rules violations by some of his best players? Remember how Delany asked the NCAA to keep the accused Buckeyes eligible for the 2011 Sugar Bowl, in which they defeated Arkansas? Remember when those players were deemed ineligible and Ohio State’s victory was later vacated?

Though Hall and Wilson haven’t committed any NCAA violations, their actions more than warrant a suspension this week. Especially from a commissioner that boasts about “doing it the right way” in the B1G. But apparently, Ohio State and the Big Ten have joined Meyer in consistently failing to elevate the level of accountability to which they hold the players who carry their flags. But only when there’s a big football game on the line, of course.

Scott Page is a college football writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, Like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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