Ohio State’s Meyer: ‘Very tough call’ to dismiss Smith

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer addresses the media during the Big Ten football media day at Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile on Tuesday.Photo Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Assistant coach Zach Smith was fired after an Ohio judge issued a protection order for his ex-wife.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said it was a “very tough call” to fire assistant coach Zach Smith, but made the decision in the best interest of the team.

Smith was dismissed on Monday, three days after an Ohio judge issued a protection order that forbids him from getting within 500 feet of his ex-wife, Courtney.

“The most important people in our program are our players,” Meyer said Tuesday morning at Big Ten media days in Chicago. “We’re very clear of our expectations. We decided to make a change.”

“… I do understand the value that the Ohio State University is bigger than all of us. It wasn’t just my decision. It was other people I relied on.”

Smith was charged with criminal trespassing after a dispute with his ex-wife in May. He was also investigated in a dispute with his then-pregnant wife in 2009 when he was a member of Meyer’s staff at Florida, according to ESPN.

“What was reported wasn’t actually what happened,” Meyer said of the 2009 incident. “It’s a very personal matter. The details that I’m obligated to give, I gave. You’re talking about people’s lives.”

Smith, who is the grandson of former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce, coached wide receivers and served as the recruiting coordinator for the Buckeyes. He also played for Meyer at Bowling Green.

Former Ohio State wide receiver Brian Hartline is expected to assume Smith’s on-field coaching responsibilities. Meyer said a final decision on the matter likely will come toward the end of the week.

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