Ohio State put Urban Meyer on paid administrative leave on Wednesday, suspending the coach from his head coaching duties while the school investigates whether he mishandled allegations of domestic abuse against former assistant coach Zach Smith.
In the immediate term, the Buckeyes are in a bad position of their own making. The two most obvious candidates to serve as interim coach while Meyer is out are co-offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. But both of those former head coaches have off-field baggage of their own that makes them obviously unfit to lead the Buckeyes right now. Wilson’s co-coordinator, Ryan Day — who’s drawn plenty of interest for other, high-profile coaching jobs himself — is filling the role.
For now, Ohio State is sealing off media access while it investigates.
“The university is committed to supporting our student-athletes as they prepare for the upcoming semester,” the program told reporters in a statement on Thursday. “Due to the ongoing investigation, football coaches and student-athletes will not be available for interviews until further notice and all practices will be closed.”
"We anticipate providing an update on availability Monday."— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) August 2, 2018
The first three periods of Ohio State's first practice of fall camp Friday were scheduled to be open to the media, and select players and assistant coaches were set to be made available for interviews after practice.
Much of that isn’t unusual even when a program is doing well and not in the midst of a scandal that could bring down its famous head coach. College teams all have their own media protocols, and access to players and coaches is highly limited at big schools. Except for during some postseason events, there’s no “open locker room” policy that allows reporters access to all players and coaches and the ability to ask anything.
The move to not allow reporters to talk to Day is more unusual.
The head coach is the person who talks most often to reporters in every program, and Ohio State has legions of beat reporters who follow the program closely. It’s rare to see a program of Ohio State’s stature go any extended period of time without the head coach talking to reporters. Normally, Meyer does it several times per week from fall camp onward.
Fewer Buckeye players and coaches talking publicly about Ohio State right now means fewer chances for someone to say something that prejudices an ongoing investigation. On another hand, something Ohio State might not like:
Congrats to Ohio State beat writers, who can now do their reporting without any fear of their access being taken away https://t.co/Rc0dg1ATvL— Matt Scalici (@MattScalici) August 2, 2018
Ohio State starts its season Sept. 1 against Oregon State.