After Hyde was cleared of charges in assault case, Meyer announced a minimum three-game suspension.
What was water under the bridge for Urban Meyer has swelled and flooded the bridge.
Meyer, who’s entering his second season at the helm of Ohio State, has seen increased attention and criticism in the last month for his handling of discipline while at Florida. The attention has come in the aftermath of the June arrest of Aaron Hernandez, who played tight end at Florida under Meyer and is accused of murdering Odin Lloyd.
It didn’t help Meyer that three weeks after Hernandez’s arrest, four current Buckeyes ran into trouble within two days time.
First came the news the running back Carlos Hyde was a person of interest in an alleged assault case at a Columbus area bar on July 20. Then followed the news that cornerback Bradley Roby was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor after an incident in a bar in Bloomington, Indiana on July 22. Added to that was news of freshman Marcus Baugh being arrested for underage possession of alcohol and freshman Tim Gardner being charged with obstruction of official business. Baugh is suspended for the first game of the season, while Gardner has been dismissed from the team.
Meyer suspended Hyde indefinitely before the Big Ten Media Days last week, and spent most of his time at the podium answering questions about disciplinary actions.
“I think the head coach needs a set of standards, needs to direct, guide, mentor, push and direct these guys,” Meyer said last week. “That’s maybe where I’ve changed over the years. Even as a first‑time offense from a freshman, I want to make sure we’re setting the tone.”
Meyer set the tone with Carlos Hyde.
Hyde was cleared of assault charges on Tuesday, and the Columbus police department subsequently released the video of the July 20 incident. Despite being cleared, Meyer suspended Hyde for a minimum of three games.
“He will be required to fulfill additional obligations before he is allowed to play in a game,” Meyer said in a statement released through Ohio State.
Is it a legitimate punishment, or is Meyer caving to outside pressure and trying to appear as a strict disciplinarian?
Meyer’s talked since his arrival at Ohio State in November of 2011 of being a changed man. He wasn’t going to micromanage the program like he did at Florida. He wasn’t going work incessantly. There was even that pink paper contract he signed with his daughters. Through his first year at Ohio State, Meyer seems to be living up to that contract.
If Meyer learned from the health scares he had at Florida, he’s probably learned from the headaches he got as a result of off the field incidents. Whether for appearance or not, the suspension of Hyde is a refreshing change from the norm for Meyer and college football itself.
Meyer could easily have taken the route of Les Miles. Miles is more than happy to let LSU running back Jeremy Hill carry the Tigers’ rushing load despite sexual assault allegations with a minor and sucker-punching people. Meyer, like Miles, could have just swept Hyde’s incident under the rug, knowing full well the 100,000 fans in Ohio Stadium would have forgot about it by Aug. 31.
Instead, Meyer suspended his top running back for at least the first three games of the season, including a road test at California that isn’t a gimme win by any stretch of the imagination.
Time will tell if Meyer keeps the tone he’s now set. I hope he does.