Urban Meyer: 'You can't please everyone'
Urban Meyer has served as Ohio State's football coach for less than five months, and the team has yet to play an actual game, but Meyer and the Buckeyes remain the center of Big Ten attention . . . and not for anything particularly positive.
The latest controversy surrounding Meyer centers on a Sporting News article that alleged several off-field issues during Meyer's tenure at Florida. Among the accusations were that Meyer overlooked positive drug tests, gave star players preferential treatment in a "Circle of Trust" and broke NCAA rules with his recruiting practices.
On Wednesday, Meyer made his first public comments about the story during the Big Ten spring football teleconference. He said he gave preferential treatment to players who worked hard and were committed to the team.
"You can't please everyone," Meyer said. "And I know they interviewed a guy that never really played for us. So I'm not real sure the intent. Other than extremely proud of what we did down there. And throwing great players, not good players, great players under the bus like that, I don't get the intent. I'll fight for those guys, man. Those guys did a lot of great things for the University of Florida. To sit there and call them out four or five years later, I'm not sure the intent once again, but I'll always fight for those guys."
This is not the first time that Meyer's alleged off the field antics have been in the news during the offseason. Meyer was hired as Ohio State's new coach on Nov. 28.
Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema stirred the pot in February when he said that Ohio State had been involved in illegal recruiting practices during Meyer's short tenure there — allegations that were brought up in The Sporting News story.
The Sporting News wrote that Wisconsin officials accused Meyer of reportedly "bumping" into Wisconsin commit Kyle Dodson during a dead period, which is illegal under NCAA rules. Dodson eventually signed with Ohio State. Meyer and his coaching staff also allegedly had former Ohio State NFL players call recruits — another illegal practice.
"When the whole thing came out . . . it was obviously a lot to be written," Bielema told reporters on Tuesday. "Not to slight (the media), but a lot of time what's being written isn't exactly what's reality. That's getting closer to it.
Bielema said in February that there was a "gentleman's agreement" among Big Ten coaches not to recruit players who had already publicly committed to other Big Ten programs. That practice is legal under NCAA rules.
"I just know this. We handle ourselves in a certain way. In the Big Ten conference, we've been able to do that. When I called Coach Meyer and expressed a certain thing, he addressed it and handled it very quickly."
Meyer was asked on Wednesday what specific points he objected to in The Sporting News article.
"More than one," Meyer said. "There's things like circle of trust. I don't know the intent. That didn't happen. And a bunch of former players called me and a bunch of former coaches. We have five coaches that are head coaches and they're all doing great jobs, and I talked to most of them and they're like, ‘What is this?'
"And any time you mention the NCAA — I'm going to say this real clear — there is no violation that we had. As far as that whole conversation, I'm not sure why that keeps coming up. If you would bold that for me and underline it, there is not one NCAA violation. There is not one turned in. There's a pretty good track record there, too, as far as compliance with the NCAA. So those are just disappointing and once again not sure of the intent."
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