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A Tom Herman strip club story doesn’t change the Ohio State story

Herman was the anonymous assistant mentioned in a strip club story told by Ohio State investigators, the school says.

San Jose State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Texas coach Tom Herman has existed off to the side of the story about how Ohio State dealt with domestic abuse allegations against former receivers coach Zach Smith.

Herman was the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer from 2012-14, overlapping all three of those years with Smith. Herman was long gone by the time allegations against Smith came to public light in July 2018, having left for head coaching jobs at Houston and then Texas.

One report has since pegged Herman as the tipster who turned college football reporter Brett McMurphy onto the story that made Meyer and Ohio State’s handling of Smith’s allegations national news. The reporter and the coach have both strongly denied that. Herman’s wife, Michelle, has also said she wasn’t McMurphy’s source.

Now, Ohio State has explicitly connected Herman to the story by confirming that he went to a strip club with Smith in 2014.

Smith’s visit to a Florida strip club while on a recruiting trip was one of the revelations from a 23-page report commissioned by Ohio State into how the program dealt with allegations against him. The investigators the school hired said Smith spent about $600 in personal funds there.

The inclusion of an apparently legal strip club trip in the report appeared to be an effort by investigators to show how Meyer dealt with a pattern of behavior by Smith that wasn’t positive for a college coach, even it was unrelated to abuse allegations. Later, Meyer added to Ohio State’s coaching handbook that his staff should “avoid strip clubs or venues that would embarrass The Ohio State University.”

The investigators said another Ohio State coach was with Smith at that strip club that night, along with high school coaches. The date of Smith’s charges at the club was May 8, and it didn’t take long for people to take an Instagram post from Florida by Smith, dated May 7, that mentioned Herman was with him in the caption ...

... and guess that Herman was the other assistant with him that night. Herman posted an Instagram, also apparently from the Sunshine State, on the same day:

Shazier is world wide. Found this little article all the way in Ft. Lauderdale

A post shared by Tom Herman (@coachtomherman) on

An Ohio State spokesman now tells the Columbus Dispatch that the other Buckeye coach with Smith at that Florida strip club in May 2014 was, indeed, Herman.

Herman going to a strip club with Smith would mean nothing about the allegations against Smith, or how Meyer or Ohio State handled them.

Herman had left Ohio State by 2015, when Smith’s now ex-wife, Courtney, made a series of allegations against him. (She’d also accused him of abuse in 2009, when Smith and Meyer worked at Florida and Herman was at Iowa State. Meyer didn’t inform others at Ohio State about the 2009 incident, per investigators. That would presumably include Herman.)

The Dispatch article notes that Ohio State “could face an inquiry from the NCAA” if Herman or Smith paid for any high school coaches’ entertainment at the club. And, sure, that could constitute an NCAA violation. But nobody has publicly charged that, and even if Herman were guilty of an NCAA violation, that would have zilch to do with abuse allegations against Smith.

The now-coach at Texas allegedly going to a strip club with an accused abuser on Ohio State’s staff is head-turning, but it’s not at issue here.

The story at Ohio State is about whether Smith abused his then-wife and whether Meyer appropriately handled allegations to that effect.

The story at Ohio State is not about whether Herman went to a strip club or how much money was spent at that club.