clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Let’s not forget that Courtney Smith is the victim, not Buckeye football

It’s about an entire system that failed a victim of domestic violence.

NCAA Football: Ohio State-Save Urban Meyer Rally Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

There’s an old saying that states there are three sides to every story: 1) his side 2) her side and 3) the truth. But in the Zach Smith-Urban Meyer situation, it feels like there are infinite stories, infinite “truths,” and infinite reasons to care.

I’m here to tell you that, unequivocally, there is only one question that all of Buckeye Nation and the rest of the country — football fan or not — should care about: Who failed Courtney Smith?

This isn’t an Urban Meyer question. This isn’t a question that in anyway would affect what happens on the football field in 2018. But this is the question that matters.

It is absolutely heart-breaking to consider what Courtney has been through.

Not only did she have to stand up to, and find the courage to leave, a man she’d spent years married to, but then she had to defend herself against one of the biggest college institutions in the country and their fan base. Not to mention having to deal with everything that comes with the family’s legacy — a family tree that ultimately still includes her children with this man.

Talk about standing up strong against all odds.

Whether Urban Meyer did or did not report the incident, supported the wrong person, or mishandled the information, at the bottom line this is all about a woman who deserved help and didn’t get it from those that she should have been able to count on — including police, the alleged abuser’s place of employment, colleagues, friends and family. She stood alone, and she seemingly continues to do so as she makes an effort to protect her children.

The buck starts and stop with Zach Smith. If he weren’t an allegedly abusive husband, this wouldn’t have been a thing to begin with. And while Smith denied getting arrested or charged for domestic violence in a weird interview with ESPN last Friday, he acknowledged eight altercations between he and Courtney.

“Zach told ESPN that eight times, he had physical altercations with his then-wife. He blamed her. He said any altercation they had was “never offensive, never aggressive,” on his part and that he was merely protecting himself or restraining her.”

With multiple visits from police and a clear pattern of altercations, there seems to be a long list of people who could have stepped in, even before it got back to Urban Meyer, but it appears that none of them did, for whatever reason.

As Richard Johnson of SB Nation pointed out:

“We’ve since learned that Meyer was aware of at least one 2015 domestic violence allegation (cops went to the Smiths’ house on two occasions regarding domestic violence claims within two weeks).”

There are almost an infinite number of “what ifs” involved in this situation, and a lot of them avoid Meyer’s desk altogether.

But none of those actually occurred, and things did escalate to the point that Meyer became aware of it.

If what Meyer said in his letter released on Friday is true, then he did what was contractually (if not morally) obligated to do, and reported Smith’s alleged abuse. From there, we assume that the information was given to Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, although he was never named in the letter.

We have a little less than two weeks to continue to ponder all of this as the investigation is underway, but the mobs for and against Meyer’s firing are growing in numbers by the day. Both sides should agree to a cease-fire immediately.

Because this is not about Urban Meyer.

This is about a woman who was allegedly being abused for almost a decade and is now being dragged through the mud by football fans with no real stake in her future. They are hoisting words and statements so sharp that they could have a serious and damaging emotional toll; all towards a woman who has already been through more than her fair share.

We won’t know who to blame, or what the outcome of this will ultimately be until the investigation wraps up, if then. But until that time, the victim-blaming and media-shaming must end.

While everyone is narrowly-focused on Urban Meyer and his future with Ohio State, the true focus should be on fully understanding who and what failed Courtney, in order to hopefully prevent it from happening again to anyone else.