Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of talk about the Aaron Hernandez case. Every angle of the story, from where the murder took place to the Patriots releasing Hernandez, has been covered again and again by the sports media machine. My initial reaction was to not drag Our Sports Report into the whole mess. Sure, we did a podcast on the subject, but my intent was to leave it alone after that. Suddenly, Urban Meyer’s name began being tossed around because he coached Hernandez during his time at Florida. Somehow, just because you coach a guy, it suddenly means that you are to blame for any future actions of that said player. At least that’s what the media seems to want you to think.
Don’t get me wrong, when Meyer’s name was first being tossed around as the next coach at Ohio State, my first reaction went something like this, “Man, if Meyer comes here, the Buckeyes might as well change their name to the Bengals, because the whole team will be in jail.” You see, I basically gave Meyer the same raw deal that the rest of the media has been giving him lately. It’s time that we all face some facts, right here, right now.
Fact #1 – Aaron Hernandez has been charged with murder, not Urban Meyer. Now, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that Urban Meyer has a clean record. However, I’m pretty sure that in order to be charged with murder, there has to be a pretty decent chain of evidence tying you to the crime such that the police may “suspect” that you have been involved. Urban Meyer was never a suspect in this investigation, nor was he ever thought of as such by the authorities. Why the media suddenly suspects him of any involvement completely baffles me.
Fact #2 – Athletes make their own choices and decisions. From the way the media has been blaming Meyer, you’d think that he were an evil man that sits in a room somewhere and controls the actions of every single one of his players via one of those fancy touch screen remote controls. The fact is that there is a limited amount of time that coaches are allowed to spend with players at the college level, leaving plenty of time for players to find their way into trouble (or a tattoo parlor…just saying). The coach can only do so much to influence the types of choices that these guys make, but no matter what, the player will do what he wants to do when the coach isn’t looking.
Fact #3 – None of us know the conversations that Meyer may or may not have had with Hernandez while he was at Florida. The media seems to assume that Meyer just bailed out Hernandez (and the rest of the Gator football team) whenever he got into trouble and never had a conversation about how what they did was wrong. After all, winning is the main goal right? The media also likes to assume that no consequences were dished out to any player whatsoever at Florida. Both of these assumptions are wrong. I myself like to assume that Meyer had many heart to heart conversations with Hernandez, essentially warning him that if he didn’t knock it off, he would be pissing away a very bright future. Of course, this assumption on my part is probably wrong as well.
The truth of the matter probably lies somewhere in the middle. Players were probably given second chances because Meyer knew that he couldn’t influence these players for the good if they were no longer on his football team. Sure, when the dust settles and some of those players wind up being the same misguided people after college that they were before college, it looks mighty bad on the part of the old football coach.
The fact that Meyer is being blamed for any of this makes me a little sad and a little guilty for the way I judged him before he came to Ohio State. I was blinded by irrational “fan hatred” that bled over from the 2007 National Championship Game, but that doesn’t make it right. Now that I have taken a season to follow his coaching style more closely, I realize that Meyer is a much better person than I gave him credit for a year ago. Meyer is no more culpable for the Hernandez situation than he is for any of the other stunts that his idiotic Gator players pulled during his time at Florida. Am I being too lenient? Maybe, but fandom can have that effect as well.