The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics on the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today on Gene Smith and the Ohio State investigation? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.
Question: In this said dream, did Gene resign? If so it was a good dream, if not it should be considered a nightmare. https://t.co/vYaB77M6m6
— Michael Doty Sr (@MdotySr) August 7, 2018
Let’s start with the usual declaimer: All of the facts have not been determined yet at Ohio State, and the independent investigation still has about 12 days left until a conclusion can be reached. But given what happened with Urban Meyer going immediately on paid administrative leave last week after Courtney Smith’s bombshell interview, it’s fair to wonder why Gene Smith hasn’t been given similar treatment. After all, as Meyer’s boss and the head of the athletic department, Gene Smith would have been aware of the details in the crucial 2015 incidents and should have played a significant role in the eventual decision to keep Zach Smith on staff for nearly three years.
If Ohio State believes there was any wrongdoing with the way the situation played out, the investigation must include some of the same questions for Gene Smith that have come up with Meyer. When did he know about the allegations of abuse, what did he know about it and why did the Buckeyes feel comfortable keeping him on the staff and representing the program for two full seasons after Gene Smith supposedly pulled the wide receivers coach off the recruiting trail? This is again likely all going to circle back to the absence of any criminal charges against Zach Smith, but if Ohio State felt the need to remove Meyer from the equation until it had all the information, Gene Smith should probably be on the shelf right along with him.
It’s difficult to see at this point, though, how the ultimate fates of the athletic director and the coach aren’t tied together. If Meyer is cleared to coach, the university will need to have been 100-percent certain that all the protocols were followed and there wasn’t enough evidence to support a firing for Zach Smith three years ago. And if Meyer did his job properly like he indicated he did in his letter on Friday, then his boss surely must have given the go-ahead to proceed and not had concerns that the future of the program was being jeopardized.
This might still be venturing too close to a prediction of the outcome, but the early read here is that Ohio State isn’t likely to face a situation where only one of those two key figures survive. That, of course, could certainly change, and now is another good time for a reminder of that caveat about letting all the facts come out before making a judgment.
But since the two appear likely be linked together, it just feels a little odd that only one of those guys is currently away from his job on paid administrative leave.
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