Let’s get this out of the way first. By his own admission, Zach Smith was a bad husband. On August 3rd, in an interview with Stan Jackson and me on “The Drive” on 105.7 The Zone, Smith told us he made numerous mistakes, was unfaithful, and knew how to push his wife Courtney’s buttons. That may have been underselling it. Truth be told, if Zach Smith were a saint, we wouldn’t be here, so by no means should this be construed as a defense of his immorality.
Having said that, Friday’s WatchStadium.com report by Brett McMurphy, with the graphic, salacious details into the sexual deviance, misconduct and lewd behavior by Smith, was a deep dive into the sports journalism abyss.
If you’ve listened to “The Drive” over the last few weeks, you’ve heard me defend McMurphy and his reporting. I’ve called him a respected journalist with a history of doing solid work. I’ve said I believe him when he says he has no ax to grind with Ohio State, Zach Smith or Urban Meyer. When Stan Jackson and many of you have said he’s irresponsible, I’ve said you can’t blame him for unearthing photos and texts to back Courtney Smith’s story. Well that’s over now. What ran on Friday, I can’t defend.
He will tell you, and did this morning with "Spielman and Hooley" on 105.7 The Zone, that the story is relevant. He will tell you that even though Meyer is under investigation for how he handled domestic violence accusations against Smith and whether he properly reported them, these X-rated “Ohio State Football Confidential” revelations are ‘need to know details.’ He explains that Smith had an affair with an Ohio State employee, at the Woody Hayes Facility, that he had sex toys delivered to him at work and that he took lewd photos on a University phone. With Meyer already accused of mishandling Smith’s domestic violence accusations, McMurphy spins it as being relevant because it adds to Meyer’s culpability.
Let’s think about that for a second. Think about that implication. That Meyer should be checking all of the mail that arrives at the WHAC. That he should be confiscating i-phones and checking all photos and texts. That he should keep every employee in the entire building under constant surveillance and that he should follow his assistant coaches into White House bathrooms. Absurd.
The timing of the story is more than a little suspicious too. If I’m to believe McMurphy and WatchStadium.com, they just so happened to have the story finished and verified for public consumption just minutes after Ohio State made its announcement that the Meyer investigation would be completed by Sunday. That’s a hell of a coincidence. Perhaps it is, but my guess is it was the next play in what’s become a one-on-one poker game. “I’ll see your statement, and raise you nude genitalia photos.”
It’s also rather ironic that the release came one day after Julia Leveridge, Courtney Smith’s attorney, released a statement that included the line “Ms. Smith is committed to taking the high road.” If this is the high road, I shudder to think what’s next.
The truth is, even if everything in McMurphy’s Penthouse-like story is accurate, as gross and immoral as it is and as ugly it makes Zach Smith look, it should never have been reported. At least not now.
Given the number of interviews the investigative committee has done, I would be surprised if the working group considering Urban Meyer’s fate isn’t aware of this information. If they believe the lurid details are relevant enough to appear in the final report, for all to see, then the reporting of this information, at that time, would be fair game. It would be public record and proof that, to some degree, the information was necessary and relevant to whatever decision is made. Perhaps they'll make that leap. The committee may add this to the domestic violence allegations, and an OVI and say 'enough is enough.' That's entirely possible.
I know what WatchStadium.com and McMurphy would argue. If we wait for the report, we miss an opportunity to break the story. I get it...but I'd rather do it the right way.
Based on what we know right now, the committee is looking into how Urban Meyer responded to reports of domestic violence. If the committee moves the target and concludes that Meyer gave too much leash to an undisciplined employee, let them decide that. And in the unlikely event the committee didn’t find out about all of this, and Friday's report was the first they have heard about it, what does that say about your source? Wouldn't you find it odd that this information would be shared with you and not the investigators? That’s the definition of having an agenda.
The bottom line is Friday’s story was an unnecessary hatchet job. It felt like piling on. It felt like sensationalism that further embarrassed a broken family. It’s sad. It’s sad for all involved, including Zach and Courtney Smith. Most especially it’s sad for their children. They’ve endured more than enough.