Ohio State fired wide receivers coach Zach Smith on Monday upon the revelation of multiple domestic violence accusations, bringing an end to the longest tenured assistant coach in the Urban Meyer era.
On Monday, it was revealed that there had been multiple past allegations of domestic violence made by Smith’s ex-wife Courtney Smith in 2009 when Smith worked at Florida and again in 2015 when he was at Ohio State, though both incidents ended with Courtney Smith not pressing charges. Those discoveries came on the heels of a more recent citation for criminal trespassing, and Courtney Smith filed for a domestic violence protection order against him in Delaware County on Friday.
Ultimately, those incidents provided a clear decision for Ohio State, which touts respect for women as one of the core values of its football program under Meyer. It was no longer tenable to employ him, and a spokesman announced his departure just before 7 p.m. on Monday night. “Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has announced the termination of wide receivers coach Zach Smith,” the release said. “Coaching staff adjustments will be announced at a later date.”
Now that Smith has officially been fired, here are some thoughts on what happened and what’s next for Ohio State football.
Zach Smith’s firing had to be done
On Tuesday, Meyer will face one hour and 15 minutes of questions from a sea of hundreds of reporters. While I’m sure the school tried to do its due diligence as quickly and as effectively as possible, there was just no way Meyer could stand up on the podium at the Marriott Miracle Mile on Tuesday morning with Smith still a member of his staff.
Meyer will face no shortage of questions, and he needs to have some good answers about what he knew and how this all transpired. Knowing about these incidents and doing nothing would be a horrible look for the program, especially given the aforementioned core values the Buckeyes frequently tout.
Brian Hartline set to take over Ohio State WRs
A source told Lettermen Row senior writer Austin Ward that Brian Hartline is poised to take over the wide receiver coaching job on an interim basis. At the time of the announcement, Ohio State said plans would be revealed at a later date. Hartline has been a quality control coach on the staff for more than a year, and he’s recently been thought of as a logical heir to Smith’s position in the event that he moved on from that post.
Hartline knows the program, having played for the Buckeyes under Jim Tressel, and he also had a successful seven-year career in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns.
Will Ohio State’s wide receivers benefit?
Smith was known as a top recruiter for Ohio State, having lured a boatload of talent to Columbus at both wide receiver and also for other positions in his recruiting areas of Florida and Virginia. However, he also endured a fair amount of scrutiny in recent years for the shortcomings of the wide receivers, who failed to live up to the lofty expectations placed upon them.
On numerous occasions, Meyer was critical of the play of wide receivers, citing their inability to gain separation as a key aspect of the passing game’s struggles. Is that something Hartline will be able to rectify if he indeed spends this season as the wide receivers coach? He might never be in a better position to prove himself. In addition to three fifth-year seniors — Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin — Ohio State boasts a number of other talented receivers including K.J. Hill, Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor.
Garrett Wilson reaffirms commitment
It doesn’t sound like Smith’s dismissal will have a significant immediate impact on recruiting. Austin (Texas) Lake Travis wide receiver Garrett Wilson, a 5-star prospect in the Class of 2020, reaffirmed his commitment to Ohio State shortly after the announcement.
“I’ve talked to Coach Meyer, I know what’s going on and I’m still a Buckeye,” he told Lettermen Row.
Ohio State commit Garrett Wilson after learning of the Buckeyes decision to relieve wide receivers coach Zach Smith: “I’ve talked to Coach Meyer, I know what’s going on and I’m still a Buckeye.”
— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) July 23, 2018
Shortly after speaking with Lettermen Row, he sent out a post on his on Twitter account.
I’m SOLID. Please stop asking #GoBucks
— Garrett Wilson (@GarrettWilson_V) July 23, 2018