Urban Meyer has been under siege these last few weeks, after the arrest of Aaron Hernandez highlighted the fact that several of Meyer’s former players at the University of Florida have found themselves in handcuffs in recent years. Whether Meyer deserves some blame for these football players-turned-convicts or not, his actions on Wednesday indicated that he’s trying to turn over a new leaf.
Despite the Columbus police department announcing on Tuesday that the case against Buckeyes running back Carlos Hyde has been dropped, Meyer maintained that Hyde will have to serve at least a three game suspension as well as “additional obligations” before being allowed back on the field in games.
Whether it’s because he believes it’s the right thing to do or because he wants to impress the media, it’s promising from a non-football perspective to see Meyer setting the right tone in the Buckeye locker room. In a world where stars seem to escape punishment more often than less productive athletes, using Hyde as a way to establish the standard should create a very healthy atmosphere going forward. Even though Hyde was never deemed guilty of assaulting the alleged victim, Meyer still found his actions as a poor representation of the Ohio State football program, of Meyer, and of Hyde’s teammates, so he told Hyde to take a seat. It’s debatable whether Meyer made the “right” decision, since it’s unclear whether Hyde was ever in the wrong, but with all the outside factors currently surrounding Meyer and this situation, he undoubtedly made the smart one. And if Braxton Miller can’t singlehandedly pick apart Buffalo, San Diego State and Cal (the Buckeyes’ first three opponents of the season) without Hyde by his side, that’s a problem in itself.
While it’s disappointing as a fan to see Hyde on the sidelines for at least the first three Saturdays of the year, fans can at least find some comfort in knowing that their head coach has control, and with the days of the memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal still fresh in the minds of many, that’s a relief.