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Urban Meyer addresses Zach Smith, QB battle, and new red shirt rule at Big Ten Media Days

Yes, a lot of reporters wanted to know about Zach Smith’s firing, but there was more to discuss.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Media Days Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Tamanini Matt Tamanini is the co-managing editor of Land-Grant Holy Land having joined the site in 2016.

Less than 24 hours after firing assistant coach Zach Smith, Ohio State football head coach Urban Meyer answered questions from the press at the 2018 Big Ten Media Days. Before his scheduled availability, Meyer reportedly met with select media and said that while he was aware of Smith’s 2009 domestic violence arrest— in which no charges were ultimately filed— he was not aware of the 2015 incident, according to SB Nation’s Matt Brown.

Despite Smith’s termination being the most timely issue facing the Buckeye football program, Meyer said that he would only answer a few questions on the matter, as he wanted to discuss on-field happenings as well.

Zach Smith Firing

  • Meyer said, “Obviously had to make a change on our coaching staff yesterday. It was in the best interest of our team.”
  • Concerning the rumors about Brian Hartline becoming the interim WR coach, Meyer said that those decisions will be made later in the week, after he had a chance to discuss it all with his staff.
  • The head coach also said that what has been reported in the media about Smith’s previous arrests was not accurate. He did not go into further detail, but said that he attempted to look up the reported 2015 arrest, but was unable to find anything on it.
  • Meyer said that while Smith was an intern at Florida in 2009, he let the head coach know about the domestic violence accusation and ensuing arrest. Meyer said that he and his wife Shelley got involved in that situation, but didn’t elaborate as to how.
  • The head coach said that he views a violation of a “core value” to be different than a regular mistake. Presumably meaning that, in his view, Smith violated a core value.
  • He continued that he’s never had to replace a coach this close to a season before, but he is fortunate to have good young coaches on staff that can step up.

Quarterback Battle

  • Meyer said that Dwayne Haskins is the front-runner to take over at the quarterback position, but that that could change, depending on how things unfold at camp.
  • When speaking of QB Joe Burrow, who transferred to LSU after spring practice, Meyer said he had a “very tough conversation in a positive way. Joe Burrow in the last two weeks of practice did everything he could to put himself in there... I wish he was still with us. I love Joe Burrow.”

Fall Training Camp

  • Training camp will officially begin on August 3. Strength coach Mickey Marotti will turn the team over the Meyer the day before.
  • Linebacker Tuf Borland is “doing great,” following his Achilles injury suffered during the spring. Meyer said, “He’s on course to perform this fall.”

New Redshirt Rule

  • Of the new rule, Meyer said that his staff has had conversations about how to implement it for the Buckeyes, but that there would be no template, and that it would be a case-by-case situation, depending on what was best for the individual student-athlete.