Meyer hoping to prevent 'knuckleheads' from ruining season
At best, the surveillance video of the incident involving Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde was grainy and vague.
At worst, it showed Hyde acting like the kind of "knucklehead" that Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said last week his team didn't need as it zeroed in on a season of high expectations.
Tuesday started with what sounded like positive news for Hyde; that no charges would be filed. The day ended with word that Meyer had suspended Hyde for at least three games. Per a carefully worded Ohio State release, the suspension is "for conduct not representative of this football program or this university. He will be required to fulfill additional obligations before he is allowed to play in a game."
Hyde gets to move on, the mystery and storylines surrounding the incident disappear and the Ohio State program as a whole avoids a major, lingering incident.
Meyer gets to send a message to his current and future stars -- and to do it without making Hyde a former Ohio State running back.
All involved will take it.
When he got to Big Ten Media Days last week, Meyer said all the right things about the Hyde incident. He said he needed facts, promised punishment once he got them and got to lecture his players about future "knucklehead" behavior without standing in front of them. He also said that one thing he wished he'd done earlier in his career is hand out swift and strong punishment when the circumstances called for it; he said he'd probably given too many second chances.
Enough of Meyer's guys have been in trouble through the years that lots of people are watching every parking ticket now. If Hyde had intentionally hit a woman in a Columbus bar -- and the investigation centered on whether that happened -- Meyer wouldn't have been left with much choice but to give the senior the boot.
Instead, Hyde gets to sit out some games and probably some practices, and probably gets to run some stadium steps, too. He gets lots of lectures, and lots of chances to realize he made a bad decision at a bad time -- of the calendar and of the night -- and he'll get a chance to learn and make sure he makes better choices from here on out.
The timing of the incident was bad, especially because fellow veteran and perceived team leader Bradley Roby was arrested two nights later in another early-morning, off-campus, completely-knuckleheadian incident. While Hyde was never charged, Roby was booked on battery charges after he allegedly re-entered a bar and struck a bouncer. But maybe the timing wasn't terrible; he can sit early in the year, serve his punishment now and Meyer can make examples of Hyde and Roby. These Buckeyes are good enough to win a few without them.
Besides, Ohio State isn't playing for August and September.
Meyer, really, isn't playing for just this year. But he has the pieces and sees the ingredients that could make this year special, and he knows he can't let a few knuckleheads ruin it.
The spotlight is on the Buckeyes. What Meyer and his players boldly call The Chase is on, too. If they want to play with the big boys, they have to act like big boys. In this case, Meyer gets to live up to what he said in public, the players involved face public and private punishment and the coach's messages -- all of them -- resonate through the locker room.
Everybody's watching. And nobody likes a knucklehead.