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Get the Anticipate newsletter.Jan. 1, 2019, 5:45 PM GMTBy Will Leitch
One of my earliest, and happiest, academy football memories is watching my admired Illinois Fighting Illini lose. We’re actual acclimated to accident — our accepted coach, Lovie Smith, is 9-27 in three seasons in Champaign — so we apperceive a appropriate accident aback we see it. It was the 1982 Liberty Bowl, and my Illini were sacrificial lambs. Why? Because that Liberty Bowl was the adieu for allegorical drillmaster Bear Bryant, the man who led Alabama to six civic championship and is broadly advised the greatest, and best revered, academy football drillmaster of all time. Bryant’s Crimson Tide won the Liberty Bowl that year, 21-16, and Bryant was feted as a king, an best warrior admirable a accurate Viking funeral. (He concluded up dying beneath than a ages afterwards he absolved off the field.)
Bryant’s adieu is advised the gold accepted of academy football drillmaster retirements, a vaunted baton of men able to amble off into the dusk absolutely intact. All academy football coaches appetite it, and, as it turns out, abounding of them get it … whether they deserve it or not. Which brings us to Urban Meyer.
On New Year’s Day, Urban Meyer, Ohio State’s arch football drillmaster and a backstab civic champion, will booty to the sidelines for his final bold as a academy arch coach. Meyer appear beforehand this ages that he’ll be backward already his Buckeyes accomplishment their Rose Bowl bold adjoin Washington, and, to apprehend Meyer and his Ohio State aggregation acquaint is, this moment is the analytic cessation of decades of uninterrupted, peaceful bliss. “What Urban has brought to Buckeye Nation by far exceeded expectations,” Ohio State able-bodied administrator Gene Smith said at the columnist appointment announcement Meyer’s retirement. “He is a ablaze baton of men.”
To apprehend Meyer and his Ohio State aggregation acquaint is, this moment is the analytic cessation of decades of uninterrupted, peaceful bliss.
This is one way to attending at it. Addition is that Meyer has had about as difficult a final year as you could imagine, a blend absolutely of his own making. Remember, Meyer had to sit out the aboriginal three amateur of this division on an “administrative suspension,” afterwards account bankrupt that he not alone had kept on an abettor drillmaster who had been answerable in assorted calm abandon incidences, but he had in actuality accepted about it and may accept alike exhausted the wife from advancing advanced to authorities. He afresh aria about it at Big Ten media day this year and was affected to bound backtrack aback the abettor coach’s wife came forward.
Text letters I accept obtained, an absolute account w/the victim & added advice I accept abstruse shows Ohio State drillmaster Urban Meyer knew in 2015 of calm corruption allegations adjoin a affiliate of his apprenticeship agents admitting his abnegation aftermost anniversary https://t.co/fcxi8GKyeI
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 1, 2018
Many alleged on Meyer to abandon (coaches accept accommodated for abundant less), but he rode it out and served his “suspension” at a academy area the admiral of the university already joked that he, in fact, formed in the account of the arch football coach. By the end of the year, Meyer was actuality animated by the Ohio amphitheater army afresh as if annihilation had happened. If Ohio State had bent a breach actuality or there, the Buckeyes ability accept alike fabricated the Academy Football Playoff, instead finishing No. 6 in the country with a coveted Rose Bowl appearance. Meyer, whose aggregation is a 6.5-point favorite, couldn’t accept asked for a bigger final game.
But, uh, doesn’t it feel like Meyer’s accepting abroad with commodity here? Three months ago, it looked like he was activity to coast abroad in disgrace. Now he’s accepting the Bear Bryant treatment. (Bryant had a brace pseudo-scandals of his own — he was already accused of acclimation a game, which led to battleground civic legislation — but annihilation that rose to the akin to attention a man who exhausted his wife.) And it’s not aloof that. Afterwards Meyer leaves the acreage Tuesday, he has addition job cat-and-mouse for him in Columbus: He’ll be co-teaching a chic alleged “Leadership and Character” at Ohio State’s Fisher Academy of Business. At best jobs, what Meyer did in commendations to his abettor drillmaster would get you banned from the industry. In academy football, it gets you a adieu bout and a adequate retirement job in which you acclaim acumen to the masses.
At best jobs, what Meyer did would get you banned from the industry. In academy football, it gets you a adieu bout and a adequate retirement job.
How can this be? Did we apprentice annihilation from Joe Paterno? (Who, of course, has his own army of truthists still ambulatory in his defense.) If Paterno had been adolescent abundant to drillmaster afresh afterwards actuality affected to abandon at Penn State, would he too accept been accustomed addition chance? D.J. Durkin, the Maryland drillmaster who was accursed afterwards his conditioning drills led to a amateur annoyed and dying on his convenance field, is already consulting for top affairs Alabama afore its civic championship game.
If Durkin helps Nick Saban win addition title, you can absolutely apprehend him to acknowledgment to coaching, aloof like Hugh Freeze, the ashamed Mississippi drillmaster who abruptly accommodated in 2017 because of recruiting violations and his addiction to use his assignment buzz to alarm escort services. Freese was out of assignment a year and is now aback apprenticeship at the uber-religious Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr’s school. Don’t anticipate Rick Pitino isn’t activity to get a adventitious to appear aback to academy basketball apprenticeship either.
Is it any admiration that Art Briles, the Baylor football drillmaster who oversaw one of the affliction scandals in contempo academy sports history — one involving assorted players accused of abduction and Briles actively aggravating to awning it up — now thinks he can and absolutely should get addition shot?
You don’t accept to accept a abatement as affecting as Paterno or Pitino to get a additional chance: A lot of times, you’re accustomed to break advanced after abounding alive annihilation had happened at all.
You don’t accept to accept a abatement as affecting as Paterno or Pitino to get a additional chance: A lot of times, you’re accustomed to break advanced after abounding alive annihilation had happened at all. James Franklin was accused of allurement a amateur to annul an incriminating video involving a abduction aback he was drillmaster at Vanderbilt. Franklin denied the accusation and after accepted he had aria about anytime seeing the video. Franklin suffered no after-effects as a aftereffect of the scandal, however, and is now apprenticeship at … Penn State, of all places. Addition abundant archetype of this: Meyer! His affairs at Florida was, in his words, “broken” aback he larboard it, with amateur arrests in the bifold digits. And that’s not alike accepting into Aaron Hernandez. None of this chock-full Ohio State from agilely hiring him aback he alternate to coaching.
If Ohio State wins Tuesday, Meyer will get his hero’s farewell: His players ability alike backpack him off the field, or dump Gatorade on him. He’ll afresh advise his class, and someday, he’ll apparently get a applique — if not a absolute statue. No amount the scandal, Meyer has consistently had an ace card: He kept winning. And aback you win anybody you assignment with, and assignment for, gets calmly forgetful. That is academy sports, incarnate.
CORRECTION (Jan. 2, 2019 12:30 p.m. ET): An beforehand adaptation of this commodity misstated the breadth of Urban Meyer’s suspension. He was abeyant for three games, not two.
Will Leitch is a civic contributor for MLB, accidental editor at New York Magazine, host of “The Will Leitch Show” on Sports Illustrated and the architect of Deadspin.