Zach Smith's social media meltdown shows headaches are far from over for Urban Meyer, Ohio State

Dan WetzelColumnist

Accused domestic abuser and fired Ohio State assistant football coach Zach Smith – and his mother! – took to social media on Wednesday to partly defend Zach and partly attack nearly everyone else.

Together their list of villains included, but was not limited to, Ohio State itself, school president Michael Drake, Urban Meyer, Zach’s ex-wife Courtney Smith and, of course, the media.

Any hope for Ohio State or Meyer that this story would quickly die out has to be over. It was a social media storm serving as a reminder that keeping volatile personalities around is like lighting a fuse and hoping it won’t reach the explosives.

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Zach Smith was fired in July after violating a protecting order taken out by Courtney, who through the years repeatedly accused him of domestic abuse. Meyer is currently serving a three-game suspension for failing to properly manage Zach as an employee.

Zach has admitted being in a “volatile relationship, it was toxic” but says any injuries Courtney suffered were because Zach was acting defensively. He’s also battled substance-abuse issues, repeatedly missed work and was discovered to have had an affair with a fellow football staffer that included filming various acts inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

Urban Meyer is surely wishing he’d gotten rid of former assistant coach Zach Smith years ago. (AP)
Urban Meyer is surely wishing he’d gotten rid of former assistant coach Zach Smith years ago. (AP)

Ohio State’s investigative report released last week “identified a pattern of troubling behavior by Zach Smith: promiscuous and embarrassing sexual behavior, drug abuse, truancy, dishonesty, financial irresponsibility, a possible NCAA violation, and a lengthy police investigation into allegations of criminal domestic violence and cyber crimes.”

Zach believes much of that is a lie, although he admits to having “made mistakes.”

Zach Smith also promised an aggressive legal defense against Courtney Smith and reporter Brett McMurphy, who broke the story. He insinuated he had dirt on former OSU assistant and current Texas head coach Tom Herman. And he even attacked sexual assault survivor and advocate Brenda Tracy for having an “agenda.”

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It all started with Zach posting a picture of he and Courtney’s two children, essentially using them as a shield, while calling out various media members.

“Look at these faces,” Zach wrote. “You heartless and moral-less clowns. Every LIE or dramatic version of the truth you report, you hurt THESE precious children! Just like their mom has and continues to do. Do have families? Kids?”

Meanwhile, over on Facebook there was Lynn Bruce, who is Zach’s mother and the daughter of former OSU coach Earle Bruce (who died earlier this year). Earle Bruce gave Meyer his first break in coaching and Meyer has long referred to him as a mentor. The Meyers and Bruces are (or were) close, which is how Zach Smith got hired and remained hired for so long.

That relationship is beyond strained now with Lynn Bruce questioning Urban’s honesty, integrity and even his religion for no longer supporting Zach and instead apologizing to Courtney in a written statement.

“I’m just wondering where [Meyer’s] mentor was in his thinking,” Lynn Bruce wrote. “The Earle Bruce I know would be disappointed at best. My father was fiercely loyal – to a fault I will agree – but he would never compromise his integrity by apologizing to someone who has lied and brought so much damage to HER OWN CHILDREN and so many others. He would never bow down to anyone if it meant being dishonest.”

Lynn Bruce said Urban Meyer would have stood up for Zach, “IF he were honest….IF he had integrity…..IF he were truly a Christian….”

This was a double-barrel blast of rage, both mother and son lashing out at every imaginable critic.

This was ugly. This was emotional. This looks like just the start.

Both repeatedly said Courtney Smith was not a victim despite pictures of bruises on her body and the fact that no less than Urban Meyer’s wife, Shelley, repeatedly conveyed concern and support to Courtney via text message.

“He scares me,” Shelley Meyer texted about Zach.

Instead, Zach portrayed himself as the victim and over and over cited his poor children as collateral damage to this supposed web of lies spewed against him. It was a pathetic tactic for a father to take, two smiling kids having their out-of-context image speeding around the internet.

Courtney Smith previously alleged that one time Zach slammed her against a wall in their apartment while their two children hung on her hips crying. Zach didn’t previously deny she suffered bruises at times, he just said he was moving Courtney so he could peacefully leave the residence.

“It is very hard to be silent when falsehoods & half-truths are said about you and there is no way to defend yourself,” Zach tweeted. “I’ve made mistakes in my life but being a domestic abuser is not one of them! I’ll answer every question in court and under oath when the times comes & I can’t WAIT!”

There was even Zach cryptically suggesting there was something interesting to ask Tom Herman “about the ensuing few days” after both Zach Smith and Herman visited a strip club in Miami in 2014. The two worked together then.

Who knows what that’s about. Although Zach will probably reveal it.

Mostly this was a sad rant, a poorly executed defense and a realtime midday meltdown. If Zach Smith has a story of innocence and misunderstanding to tell, this did nothing to tell it. If anything, it could be used against him going forward.

He has lawyers. He has options. He has his day in court coming.

Instead he came across as unhinged and unhealthy, although he did receive support from some Ohio State fans.

Mostly it is a reminder of why Urban Meyer should have cut Zach Smith out of his professional life long ago. Already suspended and no doubt interested in putting this entire thing behind him, Meyer had to sit and watch as a guy – and his mom! – he excused for too long throw mud everywhere, including at him.

Neither mother nor son seemed to imply this would be the end of it, either.

Buckle up, Buckeyes.

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