As society has evolved, Urban Meyer hasn’t

Andrea Adelson
ESPN Staff Writer

Urban Meyer today is the same Urban Meyer who walked the sideline at Florida: a head coach so driven to win, he was willing to tolerate misconduct among players and alleged misconduct among assistants as long as it meant competing for championships.

But there is one big difference. Forgiving and forgetting domestic violence, sexual assault or abuse against women is no longer the norm. Nobody is too big to go down in college sports, not anymore. Not after what happened with Art Briles and Baylor or what happened for decades to Michigan State gymnasts or what is happening now at Ohio State. Meyer, 54, was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday as the school announced it is investigating Courtney Smith’s claims that several people close to the coach knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against her ex-husband, former Ohio State assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July.

A decade ago, that was not the case. A decade ago, Urban Meyer built a championship program at Florida, burnishing his reputation as one of the greatest coaches in the game despite his bringing in and keeping troubled players. Nobody really cared all that much. Florida football was rolling, and though the arrest reports kept growing, not one administrator came down on Meyer or the way he handled his players.

In retrospect, Tim Tebow gave Meyer much needed cover for the ugliness that continues to stain the Florida program today. All the positive headlines Tebow drew during his illustrious career there helped deflect a growing problem: an out-of-control locker room.

During Meyer’s six-year tenure at Florida, some 31 players were arrested, with at least 10 accused of crimes ranging from misdemeanor battery to felony domestic assault to felony theft to domestic battery. Punishment varied depending on the player, but let’s just say it was uneven at best. In perhaps the best example that illustrates that, star running back Chris Rainey was suspended only four games in 2010 after he was charged with aggravated stalking for allegedly texting his girlfriend, “Time to die, b—-.”

Not included in that arrest total? Then-graduate assistant Zach Smith, arrested in 2009 for allegedly shoving his pregnant wife against a wall. Meyer explained last week at Big Ten media day that he and his wife, Shelley, got involved to help Smith and his wife through counseling. Meyer went on to deny knowing that Smith was investigated for domestic violence in 2015. Courtney Smith, Zach’s now-ex-wife, said Wednesday that she told Shelley about both the 2009 and 2015 incidents.

The counseling explanation sounded eerily similar to comments Meyer made about former player Aaron Hernandez, who killed himself in 2017 after he was sentenced to life in prison for murder. Meyer once said he used to have Hernandez over to his home for Bible study, and he and Shelley counseled Hernandez to stop hanging out with his childhood friends in Connecticut. (In April 2007, Hernandez settled out of court and received deferred prosecution following a bar fight. He was later questioned by police but never charged following a Gainesville shooting that September.)

“We knew that every time he went home — and that was a concern of mine — every time he would go to Connecticut, I’d have players on my team say, ‘Watch this guy. Watch when he comes back,’ so I would visit with him,” Meyer told Andrea Kremer for HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” in 2014. “He was knee-deep in our family.”

Before the societal sea change over the past several years, coaches could get away with believing themselves to be saviors or father figures, purveyors of second chances for so many troubled souls. It’s a God complex that isn’t isolated to Meyer but is symptomatic of the coaching culture in general.

It was only after he left Florida that a slow examination of what Meyer allowed to happen began in earnest. Even he told Kremer in 2014 that he made mistakes at Florida. “If I look back now, the biggest mistake, I probably gave second chances to some people that maybe [I] shouldn’t,” Meyer said. “But this is someone’s son. I know in my soul we’re doing it right, doing the best we can. Did we make mistakes? We make mistakes.”

Perhaps Meyer learned from those mistakes as it relates to player behavior. During his tenure at Ohio State, only a handful of players have gotten into legal trouble. The most notable was running back Carlos Hyde, who was suspended for three games in 2013 after police began investigating him for allegedly assaulting a woman.

But it was a different story among the staff. Meyer brought on Smith, a man Meyer knew had been alleged to abuse his pregnant wife. He brought on former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson, who resigned after he was accused of mistreating his players. He stuck by Greg Schiano after a deposition came to light alleging that Schiano knew about Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse at Penn State, allegations Schiano denies.

Did Ohio State administrators even bother questioning those moves? Or Meyer’s past at Florida?

This whole time, it has been up to administrators to hold Meyer accountable. Nobody ever did until Courtney Smith decided to speak up. In this rare instance, she provided not only photos but also text messages to back up her claims that at least Shelley Meyer knew what happened to her in 2015, despite Urban Meyer’s denials.

And then the college football world stopped and actually listened.

While no permanent decision has been made on Meyer’s future, Ohio State administrators have shown that they are listening.

Given the shift we have seen in our society, from Baylor to the #MeToo movement, Meyer was finally forced to listen. His past at Florida has come back to him in a rather unexpected way, all thanks to the decision he made almost a decade ago to give Zach Smith a second chance.

In those 10 years, the world started to change. It seems Meyer hasn’t changed quickly enough.

Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Michigan Tech announces hockey recruiting class

HOUGHTON, Mich. – Michigan Tech head hockey coach Joe Shawhan announces 11 incoming players for the 2018-19 season. The class consists of goaltender Matt Jurusik, defensemen Tyrell Buckley, Eric Gotz, and Colin Swoyer, forwards Andrew Bellant, Trenton Bliss, Alec Broetzman, Brian Halonen, Zach Noble, Tommy Parrottino, and Tanner Polglaze.

“It is with great excitement that we introduce our incoming class for 2018-19,” Coach Joe Shawhan said. “I feel we addressed all of our needs with a group of young men that have both talent and character. We all look forward to working with them and are confident that this year’s group will add to the great tradition and culture of being a student-athlete at Michigan Tech.”

The Huskies return 18 players from last year’s squad, including forward Dylan Steman and goaltender Devin Kero who are coming back for a fifth season. The 2018-19 season begins on October 12-13 against defending National Champion Minnesota Duluth at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.


Matt Jurusik [Jah-ru-sick] • La Grange, Illinois • Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)

Jurusik played 49 games for the Sioux City Musketeers last season with a 2.89 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. He played 50 games for the University of Wisconsin in two seasons from 2015-17. Jurusik was named to the NAHL All-Rookie First Team in 2014-15 with the Janesville Jets, leading the NAHL in goals against average (1.57) and save percentage (.939).


Tyrell Buckley • Penticton, British Columbia • Merritt Centennials (BCHL)

Buckley played four seasons and 211 games for Merritt from 2014-18. Last year as the team captain he had a career-high 39 points on 11 goals and 28 assists in 55 games. Buckley was an alternate captain in 2016-17 and appeared in 50 games each of his four seasons.

Eric Gotz • Hermantown, Minnesota • Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL)

Gotz was the NAHL Defenseman of the Year in 2017-18, leading the league in points by a defenseman (47) and assists by a blueliner (39). He was the captain of the Minnesota Wilderness and was also named to the All-NAHL First Team. He played two seasons and 117 games with the Wilderness after three seasons of high school hockey with Hermantown.

Colin Swoyer • Hinsdale, Illinois • Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

Swoyer played 114 games over the last two seasons for the Sioux Falls Stampede. As an alternate captain in 2017-18 he finished fourth in the USHL in defensemen scoring with 36 points. He scored seven goals and racked up 29 assists to finish fourth on the team in scoring. He also played four games for the Chicago Steel in 2015-16, getting coached by current Tech assistant Dallas Steward. Swoyer played three seasons with the Chicago Fury before his time in the USHL.


Andrew Bellant [Bah-lant]• Linden, Michigan • Bismarck Bobcats (NAHL)

Bellant has played 165 games over the past three seasons in the NAHL. He split time in 2017-18 between the Philadelphia Rebels and the Bismarck Bobcats. He had 27 points on 11 goals and 16 assists in 38 games for the Rebels and 14 points on five goals and nine assists in 18 games for the Bobcats. Bellant played 106 games for the Aston Rebels during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. His best offensive season was during 2016-17 when he tallied 55 points in 56 games, scoring 27 goals and adding 28 assists.

Trenton Bliss • Dallas, Texas • Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)

Bliss was an alternate captain for the Green Bay Gamblers in 2017-18, finishing tenth in the USHL with 55 points. He scored 21 goals and added 34 assists in 60 games to lead the Gamblers who are coached by former Husky player and assistant coach Pat Mikesch. Bliss played 24 games for the Gamblers in 2016-17 and also nine for the Coulee Region Chill in the NAHL. He spent four seasons with the Appleton United from 2012-16, serving as an alternate captain in 2015-16.

Alec Broetzman • Hudson, Wisconsin • Madison Capitols (USHL)

Broetzman was the captain of the Madison Capitols in 2017-18, tallying 50 points in 59 games to finish 18th in the USHL. He scored 25 goals and added 25 points in his third season with Madison. In total, Broetzman appeared in 159 games for the Capitols from 2015-18, finishing with 78 points. Former Husky Blake Hietala (2010-15) was an assistant coach with the Capitols last season. Broetzman played three seasons of high school for St. Thomas Academy before joining the Capitols.

Brian Halonen • Delano, Minnesota • Des Moines (USHL)

Halonen played 59 games for the Des Moines Buccaneers in 2017-18, tallying 35 points on 16 goals and 19 assists. He also played eight games for the Buccaneers in 2016-17 after finish a three-year career with Delano High School. Halonen racked up 167 points in 96 games in high school, serving as the team captain in 2016-17 when he had 81 points in 25 games.

Zach Noble • Tom Rivers, New Jersey • Aberdeen Wings (NAHL)

Noble spent two years in the NAHL playing for the Aberdeen Wings. He had a breakout offensive season in 2017-18 with 42 points in 54 games, scoring 18 goals and adding 24 assists. Noble had 10 points in 54 games in 2016-17 after playing four seasons for the New Jersey Jr. Titans program.

Tommy Parrottino • Rochester Hills, Michigan • Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)

Parrottino played the last two seasons in the USHL. Last year he appeared in 56 games for the Youngstown Phantoms and was coached by former Husky Brad Patterson (1998-2002). Parrottino tallied 30 points on 14 goals and 16 assists. He had 20 points in 45 games for the Des Moines Buccaneers in 2016-17.

Tanner (TJ) Polglaze [Pole-glaze] • Beloit, Wisconsin • Janesville Jets (NAHL)

Polglaze played the last two seasons for the Janesville Jets, including the 2017-18 season under former Tech assistant coach Gary Shuchuk. Polglaze had 43 points in 60 games last season with 15 goals and 28 assists. He also had five assists in the playoffs. In 2016-17, Polglaze tallied 12 points in 35 games. He also played six games for the Minnesota Wilderness before joining the Jets and played AAA for the Omaha Lancers.

Photo: Michigan Tech athletics

Wildcats, Huskies voted near bottom of GLIAC football coaches poll

By Blake Froling

Football season is almost upon us, which means it’s officially preseason polls season. Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech might not like what they see from the GLIAC coaches poll released today.

The Wildcats were picked to finish seventh in the conference after a disappointing 1-9 campaign in 2017. They return GLIAC Offensive Back of the Year Jake Mayon, who rushed for 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Quarterback Ryan Johnson also returns after starting as a freshman, he threw for 1,581 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions..

The defense is what will ultimately decide if the Wildcats can rise above seventh in the conference. The unit finished seventh in the conference in points allowed, last in yards allowed and tied for seventh in sacks.

Michigan Tech was picked to finish eighth in the conference after going 3-6 in 2017. The offense was anemic at times as the Huskies finished ninth in scoring.

The GLIAC will have just nine football teams this season after Tiffin University moved to the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.

Photo: @GLIACsports Twitter

Rae Drake returns to Tech men’s basketball coaching staff

HOUGHTON, Mich. – Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke is pleased to officially announce that Rae Drake will join the men’s basketball staff as an assistant coach for the 2018-19 season. Drake was an assistant coach with the men’s program for five seasons (2005-06 to 2009-10) and then spent one year with the Tech women’s basketball team when they advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championship game in 2010-11.

“We are excited that Rae is coming back to help the program,” Coach Luke said. “He has been an asset at every program where he has been a coach. Rae is very knowledgeable, intense, loves the competition and the challenge and we are looking forward to having him help us.”

Drake launched the Bay College women’s basketball program as the head coach in 2017-18, guiding the team to a 14-11 record in their inaugural season. The Norse won four of five games down the stretch to cap the year and secure a winning record.

In Drake’s first stint as an assistant coach for the Tech men’s program, he played a key role in scouting and player development. During those five years, the Huskies advanced to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament four times and finished second in the North Division in 2007-08.

Drake helped guide the women’s basketball program to the national title game in 2011, finishing the season with an overall record of 31-3. The Huskies claimed both the GLIAC North Division regular season championship and the GLIAC tournament crown during the 2010-11 campaign.

Prior to arriving at Tech, Drake coached Upper Peninsula high school boys’ basketball for 23 years. He spent nine seasons as the head coach at West Iron County where he complied a 121-72 record, including seven conference championships and two district titles. He previously served 14 years as an assistant coach at Iron Mountain.

The Huskies finished the 2017-18 season with an overall record of 15-14 and advanced to the their 21st appearance in the GLIAC Tournament under Head Coach Kevin Luke. Tech reached the semifinals for the 17th time in 2017-18 and has three tournament titles during that stretch.

Photo courtesy Michigan Tech athletics

Bob Olson memorial service set for July 19

HOUGHTON, Mich. – The memorial service for Bob Olson will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 19 at The Church of the Resurrection in Hancock. Olson, the original “Voice of the Huskies,” passed away on March 3 in Middletown, Connecticut at the age of 87.

A native of Superior, Wisconsin, Olson began broadcasting Michigan Tech athletic events back in 1969 when he and partner, the late Joe Blake, purchased WMPL AM & FM in Hancock.

Olson relocated to the Copper Country from Hurley, Wisconsin. He started broadcasting Huskies sports with men’s basketball and football. A lengthy meeting with legendary hockey coach John MacInnes led to adding hockey to the WMPL lineup. Olson called his first Husky hockey game on November 13, 1970.

Olson was known as the Dean of Broadcasters in all of college hockey and did hockey play-by-play for 32 seasons until his retirement after the 2000-01 season.

Olson is the originator of the WMPL College Hockey Poll-the first of its kind in the nation. WMPL also served as the clearinghouse for all of the country’s college hockey scores with its call-in score service run by Bob and his wife Edda. She preceded him in death in 2000.

A true community-minded individual, Olson served as president of the Michigan Tech Blueline Club (1987-91), as a member of the Michigan Tech Community Advisory Committee, on Tech’s Sports Promotion Committee (1987-92), and on the Hockey Coach Search Committee (1992).

Olson was inducted into the Michigan Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. He also received the Otto Breitenbach WCHA Distinguished Service Award in 1997 and the American Hockey Coaches Association Jim Fullerton Award in 1996 for someone “who gave as much as he received and never stopped caring about the direction in which our game was heading.”

The press box at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena is named in his honor. The Bob Olson Broadcast Center was dedicated during Winter Carnival 2001. The Tech men’s basketball team hands out yearly the Bob Olson Award to the team’s top newcomer.

Photo courtesy of Michigan Tech Athletics

Schmitz joins Michigan Tech women’s basketball coaching staff

HOUGHTON, Mich. – Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt is pleased to announce that Jason Schmitz will be joining the women’s basketball program as an assistant coach. Schmitz has spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Mary (N.D.), an NCAA Division II program in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

“I’m incredibly excited and honored to be named the assistant women’s basketball coach at Michigan Tech,” Schmitz said. “After visiting the campus on my interview, I knew it was a place that I wanted to be. The tradition of the program sells itself to anyone who comes into contact with it and I’m excited to become part of the family. I’m thankful to Coach Hoyt and the rest of the selection committee for giving me this opportunity. Coach Hoyt has an incredible amount of love and passion for the university and the basketball team, and I cannot wait to get to work to continue to build on the past success of the program.”

During his tenure at the University of Mary, Schmitz coached Brittany Dietz who went on to become the program’s all-time leading scorer. She also holds the NSIC single season scoring record and earned All-American honors. Schmitz also coached the NSIC Freshman of the Year Gabbie Bohl along with five All-NSIC Team members, two All-NSIC Defensive Team members, two All-NSIC Freshman Team members, and three 1,000 point scorers.

Photo: Michigan Tech athletics

Schmitz was an integral part of the University of Mary program where he was responsible for all player development, creating and developing all defensive scouting reports, game plans, and film edits. Schmitz also served as the recruiting coordinator where he signed players from 10 different states to the program. He also assisted in practice planning, game management, and was the camp coordinator.

“I’m thrilled to have Coach Schmitz join our staff,” Hoyt said. “He brings a unique skill set, having already been a high school head coach. Jason is also a proven recruiter at the NCAA Division II level. I am confident his basketball IQ, work ethic, and interpersonal skills will be of great value to this team and program.”

Prior to arriving at Mary, Schmitz was the Head Girls Basketball Coach at Oakes High School in North Dakota. In addition, he was the interim Athletic Director at Oakes and the Athletic Director at Wing Public School. Schmitz also spent time at Worcester State as a Graduate Assistant to the athletic director and baseball program.

Schmitz graduated from the University of Mary in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Behavioral Education. Schmitz completed is Maters of Education degree from Worcester State in 2010.

Courtesy of Michigan Tech athletics