Urban Meyer says his suspension was 'harsh'

With Urban Meyer now back on the job at Ohio State in all capacities after serving a three-game suspension for his handling of former assistant Zach Smith, part two of ESPN’s sit-down interview with Meyer aired Monday morning.

Meyer, once again, conceded that he “made an error” in handling the domestic violence accusations against Smith, who served as his wide receivers coach from 2012 until July 23.

“I want to be as perfectly clear to the world that Urban Meyer does not condone and would never allow domestic violence. I want the truth to be out there. The truth is that I made an error. I erred in supporting and trying to help a troubled employee,” Meyer told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi.

“If I had known there was domestic violence I would have fired him.”

Meyer: ‘I did not lie’

As he did in the first part of the interview, which aired Sunday, Rinaldi was direct in his questioning of Meyer. He queried Meyer about his news conference at Big Ten media days where he claimed “there was nothing” in regards to a 2015 domestic violence accusation against Smith, one he later admitted to being aware of.

Ohio State’s independent investigation concluded Meyer did not “deliberately lie” that day.

Rinaldi asked: “Big Ten media days, the report concluded you misstated your knowledge of 2015. You made ‘misstatements.’ What’s the difference between a misstatement and a lie?”

Meyer responded: “I made a mistake. I did not lie. I don’t lie to people. If you’re going to ask me a question and I incorrectly answer the question or I misspoke, to me there’s a big difference. I erred at media day. But there was never one time where I got asked a question and I tried to mislead who was asking the question.”

Meyer: No ‘consciousness of guilt about what was on my phone’

In the investigative report, it was revealed that Meyer asked a staff member whether the media would be able to access his phone and “specifically discussed how to adjust the settings” on his phone so that “text messages older than one year would be deleted.”

Meyer said he had “no concern whatsoever” about media potentially accessing his text messages. Here’s the back-and-forth between Meyer and Rinaldi on this topic:

Tom Rinaldi: Per the report, you expressed concern to a staff member about whether the media could gain access to your phone. What concern did you have?
Urban Meyer: I had none. No concern whatsoever.

TR: From the report, you also discussed how to adjust the settings on your phone so text messages older than a year would be deleted. Why?
UM: I made it very clear that I did not delete messages off my phone. I also made it clear that I don’t know how to change the settings on my phone. The report, they couldn’t tell if there was.

TR: Yet the report says your reactions, in the report’s findings, indicate “consciousness of guilt.”
UM: All due respect to the report, there was no consciousness of guilt about what was on my phone. None.

TR: The report is wrong?
UM: If you’re asking me if there was consciousness of guilt on Urban Meyer in regard to text messages or deleted messages, there’s zero. None.

Meyer: Suspension was ‘harsh’

Rinaldi asked Meyer what his reaction was to the news of his suspension. Meyer said it was “devastation” and that he would characterize the suspension as “firm,” “harsh,” and “tough.”

Rinaldi then noted he did not use the word “fair.”

At that point, Meyer responded, “I would say fair, yes.”

32 PHOTOS
Urban Meyer through his career
See Gallery
Urban Meyer through his career
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 24: Ohio State Football head coach Urban Meyer speaks to the media during the Big Ten Football Media Days event on July 24, 2018 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 24: Urban Meyer the Head Coach of the Florida Gators is pictured during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats on September 24, 2005 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Florida won 49-28. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 30: Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer talks with his defense during a game against ther Alabama Crimson Tide at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field September 30, 2006 in Gainsville, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
08 JAN 2007: University of Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer and wide receiver Dallas Baker (81) receive a Gatorade bath after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes during the BCS National Championship game held at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. Florida defeated OSU 41-14 for the national title. Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images.
GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators walks the sidelines while taking on the Florida State Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium November 24, 2007 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Florida head coach Urban Meyer flashes a big smile after he sat down with Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, not shown, at a media conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida, Wednesday, December 10, 2008. Florida and Oklahoma will play in the 2009 FedEx BCS National Championship Bowl. (Photo by John VanBeekum/Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 01: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators stands on the field before the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats at the Louisana Superdome on January 1, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Florida head coach Urban Meyer celebrates with his wife, Shelley, after the Gators' 31-17 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Saturday, September 18, 2010. (Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
Florida head coach Urban Meyer signals for a touchdown during the Gators' 34-31 overtime victory over Georgia at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, Saturday, October 30, 2010. (Photo by Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
Urban Meyer, former head coach of the Florida Gators, is seen before the start of the game between the Broncos and Dolphins. The Denver Broncos defeated the Miami Dolphins, 18-15, in overtime at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Sunday, October 23, 2011. (Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 1, 2012: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes takes questions from the media after a game with the Miami Redhawks at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes won 56-10.(Photo by David Dermer/ Diamond Images/ Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 8: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches as his team warms up prior to the start of the game against the Central Florida Knights on September 8, 2012 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio defeated Central Florida 31-16. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 7: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes and his daughter Nicole Meyer, left, and wife Shelley Meyer sing Carmen Ohio with the Buckeye football team after the Buckeyes' 42-7 victory over the San Diego State Aztecs at Ohio Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 19: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes on the sidelines during game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Ohio Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 30, 2013: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes answers questions front he media during the post game press conference after a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Buckeyes won 42-41. (Photo by David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 18: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches his team warm up before a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Ohio Stadium on October 18, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 25: Urban Meyer head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes coaches during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 25, 2014 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
06 December 2014: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer celebrates with the Big Ten Championship trophy named the Stagg Championship Trophy in action during the NCAA Big 10 Championship football game between the Wisconsin Badgers and Ohio State Buckeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
January 1, 2015: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer receives the winning trophy during the Ohio State Buckeyes game versus the Alabama Crimson Tide in their College Football Playoff Semifinal played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Scott Donaldson/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
January 1, 2015: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer watches during the Ohio State Buckeyes game versus the Alabama Crimson Tide in their College Football Playoff Semifinal played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
12 January 2015: Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Devin Smith (9) hugs the trophy with Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer and wife Shelley as following the Ohio State Buckeyes game versus the Oregon Ducks in the College Football Playoff National Championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Ohio State won 42-20. (Photo by Ray Carlin/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - JANUARY 28: Urban Meyer, head football coach at Ohio State University, hits his tee shot on the 16th hole during the pro-am prior to the start of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on January 28, 2015 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
19 September 2015: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer and his family sing Carmen Ohio to the fans following the game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Northern Illinois Huskies at the Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Khris Hale/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes holds the Fiesta Bowl trophy after the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Ohio State Buckeyes beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 44-28. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes calls out instructions to his players during the second quarter of the game against the Bowling Green Falcons on September 3, 2016 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 8: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches his team play against the Indiana Hoosiers at Ohio Stadium on October 8, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Indiana 38-17. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 26: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts on the sideline during overtime of the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on against the Clemson Tigers during the 2016 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 31, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 07: Ohio State Buckeyes Head Coach Urban Meyer addresses members of the media during a press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus, Ohio on August 7th, 2017. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 07: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer walks to the sideline after checking on Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Branden Bowen (not pictured) who was injured during first quarter game action between the Maryland Terrapins and the Ohio State Buckeyes (10) on October 7, 2017 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State leads Maryland 20-7 at the end of the first quarter. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Urban Meyer the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes holds the winner's trophy after 27-21 win over the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts during the Big Ten Championship against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Meyer has not reached out to Courtney Smith

Meyer was criticized for the way he presented himself at the news conference that immediately followed news of his suspension. Meyer said he was “exhausted” at that point in the day, but conceded that he came across with “not much compassion.”

One of the defining moments of that news conference came when a reporter asked what Meyer would say to Courtney Smith, Zach Smith’s ex-wife. He never mentioned her by name but did issue an apology in a statement a few days later.

“I apologize for that. My frame of mind was not in a good place. The combination of exhausted and not knowing my future. But I made it clear the next day, or two days later, that I was very sorry,” Meyer said. “And I am telling you right now I’m very sorry. For Courtney and her family to go through what they went through especially when things started being brought out in the media. For her children and her, I’m very sorry.”

Rinaldi asked Meyer if he has apologized directly to Courtney. When Meyer said he has not, he was asked if he would do so in the future.

“That’s something I have to think through,” Meyer said.

Courtney Smith said Meyer chose to help the abuser and to enable the abuser. When Rinaldi brought that up, Meyer said it was his first time hearing it.

“That breaks my heart, I didn’t hear that until just now. I apologize that she believes that. That’s never been my intent,” Meyer said. “My intent was to try to help all involved the only way I knew how at the time. I had two choices: fire a man and really put a family in upheaval financially, etc., or try to stabilize someone so he can go be a good father.”

New Meyer statement

Before the second part of the interview aired — and before he addresses local media at 11:45 a.m. in Columbus — Meyer released another statement on Twitter. He will return to the sideline on Saturday against Tulane. The Buckeyes improved to 3-0 after beating TCU over the weekend.

More from Yahoo Sports:
Bills are so bad that CB Vontae Davis retired at halftime Sunday
Cheap hit on Cam Newton leads to ejection, sets off fight in Falcons-Panthers
This fake punt TD is a thing of beauty from Titans
NFL kickers had a terrible Week 2

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.