“It’s been a tough couple of days.”
Urban Meyer’s first remarks at Big Ten Media Days certainly resonated with Ohio State fans, especially with the status of a handful of key players still up in the air.
Greeted by a room of rabid reporters with a laundry list of questions, the Buckeyes’ head coach delivered a long opening statement—one crafted to eat up as much of the 15 allocated minutes as possible—and then, with rapid-fire questions coming in, he absolutely delivered.
"I want to make sure our discipline is as hard or harder than anything out there," Meyer said on how off-the-field issues will be handled in the future.
While Meyer’s time in the spotlight was an overwhelming success, his tone and message going forward clear, the inevitable questions remain.
What happens next? Is this talk just, well, talk?
The answers will shape his reputation in the future, which is unfair to a degree. As a football coach, he can only do so much, and he certainly stressed the harshness in a reactionary role. In a lot of ways, this is the only aspect a coach can truly control.
Still, the perception of his disciplinary stance will not change until the off-the-field headlines disappear. It’s that simple, even with a fantastic showing at the unofficial kickoff of the season.
He didn’t dodge questions or avoid the recent trouble. “I’m disappointed,” Meyer said on the recent Ohio State arrests. “I think 'furious' might be the word to best describe it.”
And he certainly looked the part.
Four players—including starting running back Carlos Hyde, standout corner Bradley Roby and two freshmen—all had off-the-field issues surface in the past week.
Though the status of Hyde is now in question, Yahoo! Sports has been informed that a surveillance tape which would appear to clear him of an alleged assault has come to light. Nevertheless, his availability for the regular season is still very much up in the air.
When asked about Hyde's standing, Braxton Miller hinted to ESPN's Mark Schlabach that good news could be coming. Urban Meyer didn’t bite.
“I didn’t receive the good news,” Meyer said. “We have to evaluate the facts.”
The status of corner Bradley Roby, an integral piece of the Buckeyes’ hopes for a BCS championship, is also a mystery after an incident in an Indiana bar. Roby was originally scheduled to come to Chicago for Big Ten Media Days, but he did not make the trip.
"It bothers you," Meyer said regarding the distractions. "It drives you insane you have to deal with that nonsense."
Now, as the narrative of Meyer’s checkered disciplinary past spirals down yet another rabbit hole, the proactive approach on display in Chicago will require actual change. More specifically, it will require silence.
In a lot of ways, especially during the offseason, no news is good news. Unfair or not—and Meyer may not be able to win through the public’s eyes regardless—this is what will drive the image overhaul.
While his time at Ohio State has been relatively uneventful throughout the first year—a point he noted in his time in Chicago—the emergence of this latest string of arrests opens up old wounds. It rehashes the checklist of arrests in his time at Florida, something many seem to have on hand at all times.
Perhaps changing this reputation is an insurmountable task, but talk of stern discipline will not suddenly eliminate this label.
Urban did all that he could to silence a room desperate for sound bites, but this obviously won't be enough. No one expected such.
His assertive commentary was refreshing—something all of college football could benefit from—but it will only serve as chatter for those waiting for the next slip-up, ready to drive a negative narrative forward.
Adam Kramer is a Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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