CHICAGO -- One after another the negative headlines were rattled off to Urban Meyer.
The Ohio State coach’s ties to former Florida tight end and alleged murdered Aaron Hernandez.
A rough week for the Buckeyes that included four players involved in legal issues and facing some form of discipline from him.
The role he did or didn’t play in the turning in of the Gators for a possible recruiting violation.
“Everything is tied to me,” Meyer said on Wednesday at Big Ten Media Days.
Meyer was half kidding, but the combination of his star power and some well documented issues in the past ensures the spotlight is never far from him -- even if it occasionally takes a bit of stretching to squeeze Meyer into it.
Hernandez might not have been a saint at Florida, but Meyer wasn’t the first or last person in a position of authority who apparently failed to get through to him.
Having a handful of players in trouble all at once makes easy fodder for critics of Meyer and his track record with off-field issues dating back to his time with the Gators, but it also had been a full year since the Buckeyes had any to deal with at all.
Even if Meyer had known about Florida’s potential bump violation that Ohio State passed on for further investigation, he certainly didn’t seem troubled by the way it was handled as part of his greater emphasis on doing things the right way.
And while Meyer is plenty used to the outside criticism and has a pretty strong shield he uses to insulate himself and deflect it all, he did briefly let it down with all the arrows flying at him at the Chicago Hilton. But even while reluctantly admitting that he was bothered by all the negative attention coming his way recently and shouldering some blame for mistakes made in the past, he’s also not wasting much time trying to change public opinion or defend himself.
“I learned several years ago that no matter how I feel, that’s a battle you’re not going to win,” Meyer said. “I just stay completely away from it. But one thing that bothers you is when you start stereotyping a group. There are incredible kids at the University of Florida, incredible kids at Ohio State, unbelievable coaches with great hearts, and some guy makes a mistake and it impacts everybody. We’re not the only program in America that makes mistakes, but for some reason I get that [criticism].
“We’ve had a few, we’ve had too many. ... We have had some errors in the past. But we address them, and we’re going to accept them and move on and go forward.”
They obviously aren’t all in the rearview mirror right now. The Buckeyes and Meyer will continue to be scrutinized while the investigation into Bradley Roby’s battery arrest plays out. For the moment, Carlos Hyde’s indefinite suspension remains in place even without any charges filed against him for a case that might never include any based on evidence from a reported surveillance video.
But a fleeting glimpse behind the armor for Meyer made it clear that he can’t put the offseason and all the questions about his past behind him quickly enough.
“I knew this was coming when we had those issues show up last week,” Meyer said. “You’re always trying to do better, and it comes with the job.
“But I’ve got a team to coach, a really good quarterback that is going to be coached really well in about two weeks. I’m going to discuss it and do what we’ve got to do, but I can’t wait to get my hands on our players in a football environment.”
By then, Meyer might also have a chance to talk about some football, too.