Ohio State Football: Urban Meyer's Alleged Favoritism Showing Up in Columbus
The Sporting News came out with a blistering report about the culture Urban Meyer left behind at Florida, according to former players of his. Take all their claims with as much suspicion and doubt as you'd like, since former players of a coach that leaves unexpectedly aren't going to be singing praises very often (and if they are, no website doing an "investigation" is going to be listening), but there's a central theme of player favoritism that's hard to ignore there.
Do you have any problem with the allegations levied against Meyer?
We're in no position to determine the veracity of these former players' claims, particularly this "Circle of Trust" (Jack Byrnes, unavailable for comment) where players received the best treatment. Meyer said he'd never heard of it, leading to a situation where either he's lying or all the former players are lying or both are and they've all got an incentive to mislead and nobody's presenting evidence either way and it's already shaping up to be a nightmare. So whether or not these are true accusations is, barring a recantation from one of the two sides, impossible.
What we do know, however, is that the seeds of this alleged preferential treatment are already being planted in Columbus.
Oh, Meyer doesn't call it preferential treatment, mind you. He's got a different term for it: competitive excellence.
One team wins a scrimmage and it gets an icy electrolyte drink as it leaves the field. The losers? They get to quench their thirst from a garden hose. Give up a sack and you run extra sprints after the practice; sack the quarterback and you get better food, a better jersey, kinder treatment.
“Everything we try to do around here is incentive-based,” Meyer said in previewing the spring workouts. “You want to live off campus, I have no problem with that. But you have to earn that right. A big thing is wearing visors or changing your number to No. 1. I don’t really care what you wear but don’t come see me unless you are taking care of your business in all the other areas that we evaluate.”
This isn't necessarily a negative thing; it worked to great success at Florida, and it hasn't led to any unwanted attention from the NCAA. It's on the up-and-up. It also just so happens to sound a lot like what the former players are describing, although on a much smaller scale--which, of course, is what you'd expect hearing from a coach instead of a disgruntled former player.
Now, it'll be interesting to see to what extent this incentive program manifests itself at Ohio State. Perhaps it's something more coaches need to be embracing. Perhaps it encourages the resentment and preferential treatment described in the Sporting News report. Maybe those things aren't as bad for a team as you'd think. Time to find out.
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