In just his second year as a head coach in the Big Ten, Urban Meyer has fully adopted his place in the Leaders Division.
To elaborate, leadership was the emphasis of Meyer’s comments at Wednesday’s Big Ten media day, fitting after the leadership of his program was tested over the past week.
In recent days Ohio State has seen a tidal wave of actions from its players that required discipline, including incidents involving a pair of impact players in junior defensive back Bradley Roby and senior running back Carlos Hyde.
“My concern is just I don't want to disrupt this team,” Meyer said. “And I talk to them all the time about it. We have an incredible amount of resources and time spent educating players how to do the right thing at the right time. And when a mistake happens or something happened, you have to react and get it done. So I'm disappointed. I think furious might be the word that would best describe when I first got the phone call, because, like I said, for 12 months it's been really, really good.”
Meyer continually expressed his disappointment in all of the players involved, but it was evident that the actions of Roby -- who was arrested and charged with battery this past weekend -- had the biggest effect on the coach.
“That’s the most disappointing of them all,” Meyer said. “That was a crushing blow when I got that phone call.”
Meyer and player discipline have been frequently mentioned together this offseason, be it stemming from the incidents involving current Buckeyes or the high-profile situation of former Florida Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was recently arrested and charged with murder.
The current Buckeyes coach didn’t want to elaborate too much on that investigation, but he did describe his emotions when learning of the arrest.
“I felt awful,” he said. “Sick feeling.”
Though he said that last week’s incidents were the first in 12 months at the helm of the program, Meyer’s first year at Ohio State was not without its own adversity. Meyer followed Jim Tressel, the legendary coach who lost his job in the wake of a controversy in Columbus that featured many players and brought sanctions to the program that made last year’s team ineligible for postseason play. Add that to the Hernandez situation, and Meyer and the school have been tagged with a reputation, one that Meyer is disappointed exists.
“One thing that bothers you,” Meyer said, talking about his staff and players, “is when you start stereotyping a group.”
The situations of Roby and Hyde are still in flux, with Meyer saying he needs to evaluate all the facts before levying any more punishment. Yahoo! reported that there is video that appears to clear Hyde, who was suspended Monday after being alleged with assault.
Whatever results from this most recent series of disciplinary issues, the Buckeyes will be returning to the field soon, and Meyer said he can’t wait for that to happen. But, perhaps another undefeated season for Ohio State -- the team is one of the favorites to win the national championship -- could be clouded by the actions of its players off the field.