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If all this is true, why’d Urban Meyer fire Zach Smith?

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The mother of the fired Ohio State assistant offers a detailed counter-narrative.

Illinois v Ohio State Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

In a Facebook post, longtime Ohio State and college football author Jeff Snook reports Lynn Bruce — mother of fired Buckeyes wide receivers coach Zach Smith — argues against allegations that her son committed domestic abuse.

She says she witnessed Courtney Smith, the assistant’s ex-wife, being the aggressor in confrontations between the two, but that Zach Smith never resorted to intentional harm. Bruce accuses Courtney Smith of fabricating claims of him kidnapping their two children, and Bruce denies the charge that her father, former Buckeye head coach and Urban Meyer mentor Earle Bruce, stepped in to ask Courtney to drop a charge against Zach.

(The story also quotes a person said to be Courtney Smith’s mother, who sides with Bruce, but who only responded to the author via text. And the story includes Bruce confirming at least some of the texts reported by Brett McMurphy are real; if so, those texts include Urban Meyer’s wife saying Zach Smith “scares” her and advising for a restraining order.)

Before Meyer admitted he misspoke and/or lied at Big Ten Media Days about what he knew regarding a 2015 allegation against his assistant coach, I kept thinking over one question: if there was “nothing” of major concern on Smith’s record, why’d Meyer fire him a month before football season? Meyer was asked several versions of that question at Media Days, with no clear answer.

One response some Ohio State fans offered: he was bad at coaching and shouldn’t have been on staff anyway, based on merit.

But coaches almost never get fired two weeks before fall camp based on their performance in the previous autumn. Late November or December is the industry-standard time for that, in order to hire a replacement well in advance of Signing Day and spring ball.

Another rationale, also from Ohio State fans: Meyer made the move because he found out about a domestic violence protection order against his longtime assistant, issued in July, and about an arrest over a May trespassing claim. He’d long known about the dropped 2009 charge, but didn’t know about the various other 911 calls and allegations. So as soon as he heard of a second allegation, he acted.

On the trespassing incident that appears to have most directly led to the firing, Snook writes:

The couple argued over the location in which he was supposed to drop off their son. Lynn Bruce was with Zach and grandson at the time, hosting a party of more than 100 people. Her birthday was the following day, May 13.

“She was calling and demanding he bring Cameron back immediately,” Bruce recalled. “If he didn’t, she said she would call the police and claim he kidnapped him. So he drove him to the clubhouse of where she lived as she had told him to do. She wasn’t there. So then he drove the short distance to her driveway, and planned to drop him off at the edge of the driveway. When he pulled up, she was standing there with a camera, taking pictures.”

Courtney Smith then called the Powell police, who issued a criminal trespass citation, a misdemeanor, to Zach Smith. Zach Smith then called the Powell police and in a tape of the call I recently received, he asked, “I was calling because I am divorced. My ex-wife likes to call the Powell police a lot. I need to find out if there is anything (filed) with the Powell police that restricts me from going anyway near her residence?”

The officer responds, “Have you been served with any sort of protection order?”

Smith answers, “No sir. I have been served with nothing.”

The officer then says, “OK, then there is nothing that says you have to stay a certain amount of feet away from her residence or work or anything like that. That is not something we would know until we run your social (security number) and driver’s license to see if anything pops up.”

When Smith thanked the officer, the officer responded, “I can relate more than you would know, believe me!” Smith then called his lawyer, who confirmed there was no protection order in place.

He has pleaded not guilty on June 5 and the case is yet resolved.

So if that and all other versions of events offered by Bruce are accurate, why did Meyer fire Smith once the public found out? It’s still an honest question.