Tuesday Morning Tilt – Week 16 Edition

The Combine’s Joe Nicely discusses some winners & losers from the weekend in this edition of Tuesday Morning Tilt.

What’s up guys? Thanks for joining me here at The Combine! As I’m sure you all experience, the holidays throw everything off schedule, so this week’s edition is more of a “Tuesday Afternoon-ish Tilt”. Next Tuesday will be Christmas Day, so there won’t be a column up, but I will try to throw something together later in the week. Ok, enough scheduling talk, let’s look at some winners and losers from the weekend.


Chicago Bears – The Bears exorcised some demons Sunday, defeating the rival Green Bay Packers to clinch the NFC North Championship. This was another impressive accomplishment by rookie head coach Matt Nagy and his Bears team. I have to admit, I was one of the people that wondered what the hell Bears GM Ryan Pace was doing when he mortgaged Chicago’s future in order to trade up for QB Mitch Trubisky in the 2017 draft and to acquire Khalil Mack prior to the start of the season. I thought it was kind of weird for the Bears to be in “win now” mode when they had no chance of winning now, but after a home win against the Rams two weeks ago, the Bears have to be considered a legit Super Bowl contender.

Indianapolis Colts – The Colts stumbled into a great hire this past offseason. After New England’s resident prick offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels left them standing at the altar, the Colts pivoted to then-Philly coordinator Frank Reich. It appears that Reich was an underrated part of Philly’s success last season and he is doing a great job in Indy. Obviously, the return of Andrew Luck has played a huge part in turning things around and Colts fans have to breathing a huge sigh of relief after things looked touch-and-go with Luck just a year ago. A shutout of the red-hot Dallas Cowboys Sunday draws some attention to this Colts team that has been quietly solid over the past two months. As batshit crazy as Colts owner Jim Irsay is, he made a terrific move by firing Ryan Grigson and bringing in Chris Ballard.

DeAndre Hopkins – DeAndre Hopkins is having another great season and Saturday he became the second-youngest receiver in NFL history to catch 500 passes, with only Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald doing it at an earlier age. It’s really unbelievable that Hopkins has been able to accomplish this feat with the true and utter garbage QBs he’s had throwing the ball to him over his career.

Here’s the list:

Matt Schaub

Case Keenum

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Brian Hoyer

Ryan Mallett

T.J. Yates

Brandon Weeden

Brock Osweiler

Tom Savage

DeShaun Watson

Forget 500 receptions, I don’t know how Hopkins is still in the fuckin’ league! Congrats Nuk, keep doing what you do and hopefully DeShaun can stay healthy for you.



Dallas Cowboys – This season has been a roller coaster ride for Jerry and the ‘Boys. After a slow start, a horrible-then-great trade for Amari Cooper, and impressive wins over the Saints and Eagles…the Cowboys did what they do best Sunday against the Colts: completely shit the bed just when everybody is getting on the hype train. The 23-0 beatdown in Indy proved a couple of things; 1.) Dallas isn’t “there” yet & 2.) Dak Prescott isn’t an elite NFL quarterback. After punching a couple of teams in the mouth, the Cowboys got a dose of their own medicine Sunday. The Colts ran freely against Dallas, while stifling the Cowboys run game. We saw that Dak is unable to carry the offense when needed. Prescott is a serviceable quarterback when things are going well and the run game is clicking, but when he is forced to throw when trailing, the offense falls apart.

Carolina Panthers – Ugghhh. What’s happened in Carolina? Cam Newton doesn’t look like the same quarterback lately and the Panthers have now lost a hard-to-fathom six games in a row. Last night’s loss against the division-rival Saints might be the final nail in Ron Rivera’s coffin. After losing to Denver in the 2015 Super Bowl, Rivera is now 23-23 in games since and is going to miss the playoffs for the second time in three years. We all know that “Franchise QBs” are hard to come by and Cam Newton’s prime years are slipping away.

New England Patriots – The Patriots have been declared “dead” several times over the years, only to eventually win the Super Bowl.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens again this year, but man…the Patriots look, for lack of a better word, old. I’m convinced that Gronk is held together with duct tape, popsicle sticks, and chicken wire under his uniform and while they’ve won Super Bowls without Gronk before, he plays a key role in keeping their offense humming. There were tons of un-Patriot like mistakes against the Steelers Sunday and it makes you wonder if the end is near. I mean this shit will end at some point right? Right?!?

New York Giants Fans – Congrats Giants fans, you’ve got a once-in-a-generation talent at running back, a top-10 wide receiver, and Eli Fucking Manning. The Giants organization’s loyalty to Manning is something we don’t see much anymore in the NFL and I’m starting to understand why. Football is an ever-changing animal and it really looks like the Giants are severely hindering their future by trying to hold on to the past. Yes, Eli won two Super Bowls for the Giants (though it’s debatable how much those can be attributed to Eli), but HE’S NOT WINNING ANYMORE SUPER BOWLS. I’m sorry Giants fans, I really am.

Fantasy Football Players – Perhaps the biggest “L” of the week went to those in fantasy football league playoffs. What a clusterfuck it was for all the “great” fantasy teams. You know what I have to say? Welcome to my world, motherfuckers! I’ve been living in my own personal fantasy football hell this season and it’s nice to have a little company from you Saquon Barkley, Melvin Gordon, OBJ owners. How does it feel? I’m hearing a lot of people complaining that after working on their fantasy teams all year, it sucks that it all comes down to one week. Hmmm, that sounds almost like…real football! Suck it up fantasy players. How do you think the team that loses the Super Bowl feels? This isn’t some new-age kid’s soccer league, there are winners and losers in fantasy football.





Week 15 NFL Picks ATS

The Rowdy Sports Guys at The Combine team up with Kev and Ben Rolfe to bring you their Week 15 NFL picks ATS

Welcome to Week 15 of the NFL season, fellow degenerates. We called on a few buddies today to help us with some Consensus Picks. From RotoBaller, we have Ben Rolfe and RotoSurgeon-Kev along with Combiners RowdyRotoJB, Ronnie Boo-Boo Child, El Presidente, and Spence. The spreads were recorded Friday, 14 December. Here is the final product:


The Majority Picks

  1. Texans (-7.0)
  2. Texans @ Jets – Under 44.0
  3. Browns (+3.0)
  4. Browns @ Broncos – Under 46.0
  5. Packers (+6.0)
  6. Packers @ Bears – Over 45.0
  7. Cowboys @ Colts – Over 47.5
  8. Titans @ Giants – Under 43.5
  9. Dolphins @ Vikings – Under 44.5
  10. Ravens (-7.5)
  11. Cardinals @ Falcons – Over 44.0
  12. Raiders (+3.0)
  13. Redskins @ Jaguars – Over 36.0
  14. Bills (-2.5)
  15. Lions @ Bills – Over 39.5
  16. Seahawks (-4.0)
  17. Eagles (+13.0)
  18. Eagles @ Rams – Over 52.0
  19. Saints (-6.5)

The Unanimous Rowdy Pick of Week 15

  1. Buccaneers @ Ravens – Under 46.5


Agree or disagree with our picks? Which guy do you see finishing with the highest percentage this week? Leave a comment or hit us up on Twitter!

NFL Week 15 Bet of the Week

Spencer Aguiar digs into his top rowdy bet for Week 15 of the NFL season

Welcome back to The Combine Sports and another edition of the Bet of the Week article. Last weekend was about all you can ever ask for as a gambler. We found the winner’s circle with two plus-five underdogs that prevailed as outright victors (Colts and 49ers) and scrambled late in the Cowboys versus Eagles game to get the total over 43 points.

Our 3-0 week increases our total to (5-1-1) since starting this write-up in Week 11, and we will attempt to keep the momentum rolling on what appears to be a less exciting weekend of value. Picking and choosing your spots to attack is essential to success in sports betting, which means that just because we expanded our bankroll, we shouldn’t foolishly be putting our funds back on the line without good reason to do so.

Week 15 provides a collection of semi-substantial road dogs for us to have to decipher if there is any value. During the Sunday and Monday games, eight of the 13 matchups feature a home team that is favored by three or more points, with six of those contests coming in at minus-six or higher. That isn’t necessarily a negative, but I am not usually a huge fan of road underdogs that are receiving around 50 percent of the wagers and a touchdown worth of points. On the flip side, I am also not a major proponent of laying points in what looks like the public side of the game. That doesn’t mean I never do those two things, but I am not overly excited about this card, and very few of those situations are jumping out to me.

While the slate isn’t the most enticing I have seen this season, three games have caught my attention. The Panthers +6.5 versus the New Orleans Saints is intriguing for a few reasons. New Orleans will be making their third trip on the road in the past three weeks and will have to go into Carolina for a Monday night game that presumably will be the Panthers essential Super Bowl. Carolina isn’t mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture, but they would need a handful of things to happen and should be able to play pressure-free football in front of a raucous crowd. Ultimately, I decided to leave that game off of my official “Bet of the Week” card, but there is some value to be had on Carolina if you can stomach opposing the high-powered Saints during a prime-time game.

The Indianapolis Colts -3 over the Dallas Cowboys is another game that has piqued my curiosity. I initially began the week anticipating this being my selection when they were at -2.5 and even wrote the write up for it, but with the number shifting to -3 and T.Y. Hilton being questionable for the game on Sunday, I will ultimately leave it off my card. I do have a bet on them at -2.5 but can’t fully justify it at its new price.

Miami Dolphins (+7.0) versus the Minnesota Vikings (-7.0) O/U 44.5

As you become more accustomed to my style and how I approach these games, you will realize that I mostly try to find value in underdogs, but this week presents a unique opportunity.

The Minnesota Vikings were embarrassed on national television during Monday night’s road debacle against the Seattle Seahawks by a score of 21-7. The Vikings looked anemic on offense and were verbally destroyed by the disastrous Monday Night Football announcing crew. I think it has become a widespread sentiment that the trio of Jason Witten, Booger McFarland and Joe Tessitore have done a pretty atrocious job this season of calling games. But for the Vikings to be lambasted in front of millions of viewers, it resonates in the mind of the average fan all week, even if they know that the source isn’t the most credible.

And the reason for this is simple. Our eyes were able to confirm the outlandish comments that were being made about Minnesota during the broadcast. Some of them were justified, but they were very harsh to a team that seemingly suffered every bad break imaginable during the game. That doesn’t excuse quarterback Kirk Cousins poor play or offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s lousy play-calling, and someone had to be accountable for the embarrassment that was Monday night, which is why DeFilippo lost his job with what transpired during the game.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Miami Dolphins pulled out one of the all-time great shockers against the New England Patriots, completing a hook-and-lateral on the final play of the game for 69 yards to stun New England. The most iconic part of that play to me will always be running back Kenyan Drake outrunning Rob Gronkowski to get into the end zone and watching Gronk stumble near the goal line.

The differing outcomes last week does have me moderately surprised that we haven’t seen more Miami Dolphins money come in, but I am not concerned when the ticket slips are just about 50/50 on the game. Sharp bettors don’t seem overly interested in grabbing a touchdown with Miami this week, and I think it makes sense from a statistical breakdown of the game.

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, who is tied for the league-lead in interceptions this year, is doubtful for Sunday’s game –which would be a massive blow to an already struggling Miami defense. The Dolphins rank 24th in overall defensive efficiency on the year and 26th in passing defense. I know the narrative of Kirk Cousins being overpaid and incapable of beating a good team has been shoved down our throats this week, but Miami is an overrated team that is entering a classic letdown spot after last week’s season-altering victory.

The Vikings have struggled to get anything going this year on the ground, but I believe that Dalvin Cook being in and out of the lineup has caused them to grade out 31st in overall run efficiency. If we look at Minnesota’s rushing success rate the last two weeks when Cook has been fully healthy, the Vikings are grading out ninth in the NFL with a 50 percent success rate rushing. The impressive part about that is it features Monday’s fiasco in the statistics and still shows the success they have been having on the ground.

When breaking down Miami’s offense, I struggle to find how they can be successful if Kirk Cousins does get the Vikings off to a quick start. The Dolphins have had most of their success on the ground this season, but if they get behind in a challenging road game, quarterback Ryan Tannehill is going to have his hands full. Miami ranks 20th in passing efficiency, 28th in offensive line adjusted sack rate and they rank outside the top-24 in the league when it comes to offensive success rate passing and explosive runs and passes.

Both teams have a lot to play for this weekend, but I could see the Dolphins struggling to find any success on offense and forcing throws if the game gets away from them early –which is how blowouts start taking form. I would imagine that Cousins and the Vikings won’t be holding anything back either and should try to make a statement offensively. Like I mentioned above, you won’t find me laying these amount of points often, but sometimes you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone when a situation presents itself.

Rowdy Bold Prediction: Minnesota 31 – Miami 13

Recommended Bet: Minnesota (-7)

Bet of the Week Record : (5-1-1)




Instant Analysis – Rays/Indians/Mariners 3-Way Trade

A quick look into the 3 team trade with the Rays, Indians, and Mariners

This offseason, I will be diving into the notable moves made and their impact to their individual teams and potential fantasy baseball implications.

Finally some real action in Vegas.  A three team deal has been announced between the Rays, Indians, and Mariners.

Mariners receive:

  • 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion
  • Comp Pick (Round B, Pick #77 from CLE)

Indians receive:

  • 1B/DH Carlos Santana
  • 1B/OF Jake Bauers
  • Cash considerations ($5M from TB + $1M from SEA)

Rays receive:

  • UTIL Yandy Diaz
  • P Cole Sulser


For the Rays:

They trade the only real 1B on their roster to CLE (and cash to Mariners for some reason) for a 27 year old utility infielder with no power or speed and a 29 year old minor league pitcher… not even a prospect.  This makes zero sense for the Rays.

Grade – F


For the Indians:

The Indians shifted some money around and brought back a familiar face in Carlos Santana.  Santana is owed $35M over the next 2 seasons vs Encarnacion’s $25M in 2019.  The end game here is they now owe Santana $29M over 2 years, rather than $25M to EE for one year.  Plus they get a useful bench bat in Bauers.

Grade – B+


For the Mariners:

Finally, Dipoto wins a deal!  The Mariners basically took on ~$6M in 2019 to clear their 2020 books AND got a comp pick in round B… and they can probably move EE pretty easily if they wanted to.  Even if they don’t move EE, they save a ton of money and could potentially strike gold in the draft and add to their system.  GREAT move for the Mariners.

Grade – A


More Instant Analysis – Trades/ Transactions


*Photo by Keith Allison

Instant Analysis – Joe Kelly signs with the Dodgers

A quick look into the signing of Joe Kelly by the LA Dodgers

This offseason, I will be diving into the notable moves made and their impact to their individual teams and potential fantasy baseball implications.

Relief Pitcher Joe Kelly has reportedly agreed to a 3 year/$25M deal to join his opponent in the 2018 World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers.  I had Kelly returning to the Red Sox for 3 years and $27M in my Presidente’s 2018-2019 MLB Offseason Free Agent Predictions.  The money was in line but I chose the wrong World Series team.

There is no question Kelly has electric stuff, but he has problems locating.  Take a look at his past two seasons:

2017 – 58 IP, 2.79 ERA (3.49 FIP), 52 K/27 BB

2018 – 65.2 IP, 4.39 ERA (3.57 FIP), 68 K/32 BB

They show similar peripherals, but vastly different results.

But here’s a fun stat… In the past 3 years with Boston, Kelly has allowed 1 ER an 17 K/0 BB in 17.2 IP in the postseason.  How’s that for showing up on the big stage?

Overall, he has the stuff and experience that the Dodgers need come October… but can he harness it?  It’s not a huge risk for someone like the Dodgers, but an overpay in my opinion.  For my money, I’d rather take a flier on someone like Carson Smith, David Phelps, or AJ Ramos combined for the same amount.  We’ll see how it shapes up though.

Grade – B

More Instant Analysis – Trades/ Transactions


*Photo by Keith Allison

Instant Analysis – Jeurys Familia signs with the Mets

A quick look into the signing of Jeurys Familia by the New York Mets

This offseason, I will be diving into the notable moves made and their impact to their individual teams and potential fantasy baseball implications.

Jeurys Familia has reportedly agreed to a 3 year/$30M deal to return to the New York Mets.  I had Familia going back to the Mets (to be their closer) for 3 years and $36M in my Presidente’s 2018-2019 MLB Offseason Free Agent Predictions.

This one is a little surprising because you would think he could’ve found a closing gig somewhere… I mean this is a guy that had 51 saves in 2016 for the Mets…  Maybe he wanted to show loyalty to the team that stood by him after he was arrested for domestic violence?  Who knows?

The Mets paid damn near “closer money” for Familia to setup for Diaz and they are looking at a formidable 7-8-9 in 2019.  Familia finished 2018 in Oakland and combined to throw 72 IP, 3.13 ERA (2.65 FIP) and 83 K/21 BB.

Overall the money is high for a setup man, but less than I expected him to get.  I think there would be better deals for setup men but their FAMILIArity probably goes a long way… further than that lame dad joke.

Grade – B+


More Instant Analysis – Trades/ Transactions


*Photo by Arturo Pardavila III

When The Going Gets Tough, Urban Meyer Gets Going

Urban Meyer has led two programs to national championships and left both due to “health issues”. Joe Nicely takes a look at his career and future

When the news broke last week that Urban Meyer would be retiring from his position as the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes due to “health issues”, I wasn’t very surprised. As a lifelong fan of the University of Tennessee, I was familiar with Meyer from his time at the University of Florida. The arc of Meyer’s tenure and exit from Columbus, seemed eerily similar to his time at Florida and his first “retirement” from football seven years ago.

Meyer’s ability is undeniable and he is without question one of the greatest college football coaches of his generation. He has won three national championships, two at Florida and one at Ohio St. His offensive concepts have helped to revolutionize the game and his tenacity on the recruiting trail is legendary. However, longevity has never been Meyer’s strong suit. While he is excellent at building programs and winning championships, Meyer’s drive to win has often caused problems that he doesn’t bother hanging around to deal with.

Bowling Green

After working his way up the college football ranks as an assistant, Meyer landed his first head coaching job at Bowling Green in 2001. He was immediately successful. Meyer turned around a Bowling Green squad that had gone 2-9 in 2000, finishing his first season at 8-3. Bowling Green played well in Meyer’s second season, going 9-3 in 2002. It should be noted that Meyer had a walk-on player named Zach Smith at Bowling Green, the grandson of his mentor, former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce. This is also when the groundwork was laid for what would become Meyer’s offensive attack. His use of an athletic QB named Josh Harris was the precursor to how he would utilize QBs in the future. Which takes us to Meyer’s next stop…


After his successful, but brief, stay at Bowling Green, Meyer bolted for the University of Utah in 2003. It was here that Meyer would find the player to make his innovative offensive scheme take flight, Alex Smith. Smith’s unique blend of athleticism and traditional throwing ability made him the perfect fit for Meyer’s shotgun-based version of the West Coast offense colliding with the option. Meyer and Smith hit the ground running, leading Utah to a conference championship and a 10-2 record. Things really started humming in 2004, Meyer’s second season in Salt Lake City. Led by the play of Smith, Meyer’s Utes went a perfect 11-0 and earned a BCS bid into the Fiesta Bowl, where they defeated Pittsburgh to finish 12-0. This season was pivotal to Meyer’s career for a couple of reasons. Utah’s ability to breakthrough the BCS “glass ceiling” that had been in place against mid-major programs for years gained the team and Meyer national exposure. The success of Meyer’s offense with Smith at QB signaled a seismic shift in the way the college game was played. With Smith heading off to become the number one pick in the upcoming NFL draft, Meyer once again decided to leave for greener pastures after just a two-year stop at Utah. It would mark the last time he left a program on a high note.


Rather than face the upcoming season without Smith, Meyer decided to take his talents to Gainesville. This was the game changer. Meyer’s decision to accept Florida’s offer of $14 million for seven years in 2005, kick started the trend of mid-major coaches jumping to traditional powerhouse programs for huge money, a trend that still exists in today’s world of college football. This is also a good point to stop and appreciate just how meteoric Meyer’s rise was. He went from coaching wide receivers at Notre Dame in 2000 to accepting a $14 million head coaching offer from an SEC powerhouse in 2005, while never spending more than two years at the same school along the way. (Meyer was also offered the head coaching job at Notre Dame after Utah’s perfect season, but chose Florida). One noteworthy hire that Meyer made after accepting the Florida job in 2005, was a young graduate assistant by the name of Zach Smith, his former player from Bowling Green. Concerns about Meyer’s offense working in the SEC were quickly laid to rest, as the Gators went 9-3 in his first season.

Meyer’s second season with the Gators in 2006 was remarkable for two reasons; he won his first national championship with a 13-1 record and it was Tim Tebow’s freshman year at Florida. Though the Gators were primarily quarterbacked by Chris Leak throughout the season, Tebow became a national phenomenon. Just has he had upgraded from Josh Harris at Bowling Green to Alex Smith at Utah, Meyer found what would be the final step of the QB evolution in Tebow at Florida.

On the heels of his national championship win, Meyer was able to recruit at an elite level. He had access to athletes the caliber of which he had never seen at Bowling Green and Utah. Two such athletes that Meyer had doggedly recruited as part of the incoming 2007 freshman class were Cam Newton and Aaron Hernandez. Meyer believed he had found his next quarterback prodigy in Newton and his pursuit of Hernandez was fervent. After convincing Hernandez to abandon his hometown choice of the University of Connecticut, Meyer flew to Bristol to personally persuade Hernandez’s high school principal to let him graduate a semester early in order to enroll early at Florida. Both Newton and Hernandez will play key roles in Meyer’s successes and failures at Florida.

The Gators offense continued to roll in 2007, well enough for Tim Tebow to win the Heisman Trophy. However, Florida struggled on the defensive side of the ball and finished with a 9-4 record after a bowl game loss to Michigan.

Meyer’s fourth season with Florida in 2008 was a harbinger of what was to come in his career…excellence on the field, with chaos off it. With Tebow taking a physical pounding in 2007, Meyer announced prior to the upcoming season that sophomore Cam Newton would share time at QB in order to help lessen the toll on Tebow. The Gators 2008 season opener against Hawaii would serve as an interesting microcosm for the upcoming years ahead. Newton came into the game, only to quickly suffer an ankle injury that would sideline him indefinitely, while Hernandez (along with stars Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes) watched from the Florida bench as “secret punishment” for failed drug tests. As the Gators chomped-up opponents on Saturdays, they were dealt a major blow off the field when the injured Newton was arrested in November on felony charges for stealing a laptop from a fellow student. Meyer suspended the already-injured Newton and the charges were eventually dropped after Newton completed a pre-trial diversion program. Hernandez made his way back onto the field after the one-game suspension, starting 11 of 13 games and playing a key role in Florida’s run to a second national championship under Meyer. Days before they defeated Oklahoma for the national championship, Cam Newton announced that he would be transferring out of the program. News later surfaced that Newton faced expulsion from the University of Florida due to academic dishonesty, though there had been no form of discipline handed down by Meyer for any issues.

The 2009 season would mark the beginning of the end to Meyer’s career at Florida. With graduate assistant Zach Smith arrested for aggravated battery on a pregnant woman in June of 2009 (which Meyer later admitted to knowing about), Hernandez repeatedly failing drug tests, and Tebow entering his senior season with his heir apparent Newton now gone…things were reaching a boiling point for Meyer’s program off the field. The team played well, going 12-0 in the regular season. However, the Gators were defeated by an up-and-coming Alabama program in the SEC Championship. The loss would prove to be a true changing of the guard in the conference. Just hours after the 32-13 drubbing at the hands of the Crimson Tide, Meyer was admitted into a Gainesville hospital due to chest pains and dehydration. Due to the health scare, Meyer announced his resignation from the University of Florida on December 26, 2010. However, in a preview of the public flip-flops that would happen later in his career, Meyer reversed his position just a day later and announced that he would take an indefinite leave of absence rather than resigning. He would coach the team to a Sugar Bowl victory before taking some time off.

Meyer resumed full-time coaching duties in March of 2010 in preparation for what would be his final season in Gainesville. With the public (the handling of the Newton issue and his resignation/leave of absence) and private (Zach Smith’s arrest and Hernandez’s behavior and drug problems) issues of the previous year still looming around the program, the Gators struggled. Tebow’s graduation and Hernandez’s forced departure to the NFL draft left huge holes for the team. Florida’s talent level seemed sub-par and it’s offensive scheme looked stale. The Gators finished the season 7-5, Meyer’s worst record as a head coach. With the program seemingly headed downhill, Meyer again resigned his position in December of 2010, this time for real, and again cited health issues. Meyer’s stint at Florida was undoubtedly successful on the field and troubling off it. He won two national championships, but had 31 of his players arrested during his time at Florida. Meyer’s disciplinary style during his time at Florida could be described as “kinder and gentler” toward star players. His handling, or lack thereof, of both Hernandez’s and Smith’s off the field behavior issues are disturbing and would impact several lives down the road.

Ohio State

Less than a year after his resignation from the University of Florida, Meyer was suddenly cured of any health issues when he accepted the head coaching position and a contract worth over $25 million at Ohio State University in November 2011. While the roster he left behind at Florida was full of undisciplined players with mediocre talent (Florida failed to have an All-SEC player in its first season after Meyer left), the Buckeyes’ cupboard was fully stocked, thanks to former coach Jim Tressel. Though Meyer inherited a postseason ban in his first year, the Ohio State program was full of NFL-caliber players and, perhaps most importantly, played in a conference that didn’t have an Alabama juggernaut to contend with. Despite having a clean slate in Columbus, one of Meyer’s decisions upon receiving the job, was to bring in his old player and GA Zach Smith to coach wide receivers. Meyer knew about Smith’s arrest for assaulting his then-pregnant wife in 2009, why he would bring aboard Smith and all of his baggage is anyone’s guess, but it would prove to be a mistake of epic proportions. You also have to wonder who at Ohio State was vetting Meyer and his staff. It didn’t take a licensed private eye to find out some of the things that had been going on at Florida on Meyer’s watch and Smith’s history alone should have thrown up a red flag. It shows that, despite coming off an embarrassing scandal under coach Jim Tressel, Ohio State was focused solely on winning football games. As is often the case, it takes two to tango.

Just has he had at every stop of his career, Meyer hit the ground running. Coaching Jim Tressel’s players, Meyer led the Buckeys to a 12-0 record in 2012. While the program was still on a postseason ban, one thing was clear: Urban Meyer was back.

After going 12-2 in 2013, Meyer would win his third national championship in the 2014 season. Powered by future NFL stars like Ezekiel Elliott and Joey Bosa, the Buckeyes defeated Oregon in the national championship game to finish at 14-1. It solidified Meyer’s greatness in the college game and earned him “living legend” status.

Following the 2014 championship season, Meyer and the Buckeyes would continue to dominate the Big Ten conference and arch-rival Michigan. Meyer had seemed to learn at least one lesson from his time at Florida and managed to keep his players out of trouble in Columbus, but 2015 would bring up some familiar issues from one of his assistant coaches. In late October of 2015, wide receivers coach Zach Smith was involved in domestic violence and felonious assault charges with his wife Courtney. Less than a month later in November of 2015, Courtney Smith filed charges of stalking against Zach with police. In both instances, no charges were filed and Smith faced no disciplinary action from neither Meyer nor Ohio State for the incidents.

With Meyer continuing to win big and Smith still on the staff, everything seemed hunky-dory in Columbus. The Buckeyes captured another Big Ten championship in 2017 and were primed to be a national championship contender in the upcoming 2018 season. Then, Big Ten media days happened…

In an attempt to cut off a pending news story that Zach Smith had been arrested for domestic violence-related charges in 2009 and 2015 at the pass, Meyer fired Smith on July 23 2018, one day before appearing at the Big Ten media days in Chicago on July 24. News of the firing broke before Meyer’s press conference and it only raised more difficult questions for the coach to address. Things did not go well. Meyer admitted to having knowledge of the 2009 incident involving Smith while they were at Florida, but denied any knowledge of the 2015 incident. This is where things went off the rails for the coach who had perfected the art of turning a blind eye to problems within his program.

Brett McMurphy led the charge on this story and his reporting throughout this period was absolutely top-notch. Shortly after Meyer denied knowing of the 2015 incident at his press conference, McMurphy reported that the actual 2015 police report had been altered by the Powell Police Department and that both Urban Meyer’s wife Shelley and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith had knowledge of the 2015 Smith incident. How did McMurphy know this? He had “the receipts”, in the form of a series of text messages between Courtney Smith and Shelley Meyer. Not to mention, Zach Smith himself admitting that AD Smith had pulled him off a 2015 recruiting trip after learning of the matter.

Ohio State placed Meyer on paid administrative leave on August 1 in order to “investigate” the matter. The ensuing investigation and its findings proved to be a joke of epic proportions, with Meyer using the old faithful “health issues” as an excuse for all his errors big and small. The powers that be at Ohio State, either due to blatant ignorance or in a poorly disguised attempt to protect their beloved football program (Hint: It’s the latter), decided to issue a three-game suspension to Meyer and a slap on the wrist to AD Smith on August 22 of 2018.

After going 3-0 under interim coach Ryan Day, Ohio State welcomed Meyer back and went on to a 12-1 season. Following a victory in the Big Ten championship game, but after being denied a bid into the College Football Playoff, the 54-year-old Meyer announced his retirement from coaching on December 4, citing, you guessed it, his old pal health issues as the reason and essentially bailing on a university that risked its credibility to keep him as their football coach.

Looking Back & Moving Forward

Urban Meyer is a talented football coach, I’m not here to argue that point, but he his definitely a coach with flaws. You can’t blame Meyer for quickly climbing the career ladder. Leaving Bowling Green and Utah for bigger, higher-paying jobs isn’t something to find fault in, but it is interesting that Meyer never really had to deal with the long-term complications of running a program during his two-year stays at each school. His ability to do that would be tested at the University of Florida and it was a test that he failed miserably. Meyer’s “look the other way” attitude when it came to Florida’s star players created core problems and inhibited his ability to sustain long-term success for the program, not to mention the impact it had on the lives of his players and staff. When Meyer saw the Gators’ ship going down, both on and off the field, he quickly jumped off and left the university to clean up the mess.

Meyer’s move to Ohio State after being out of coaching for less than a year, confirmed that his “health issues” were bogus. His decision to bring Zach Smith into the fold in Columbus was both in-character for Meyer and reckless for Ohio State. While he seemed to learn from some of his mistakes at Florida, and kept his Buckeye players out of trouble for the most part, Meyer’s drive to win and his ego proved to be his ultimate downfall. When enough folks refer to you as a living legend, you start believing it and Meyer began to feel that he could do whatever he wanted with “his guys”, like Zach Smith. The sad part of the story, is that Meyer was actually right…he could do whatever he wanted, as Ohio State’s sham of an investigation and decision to only suspend him proved.

So why leave now? With his suspension already served, why did Meyer bail on an Ohio State program that risked its very credibility to keep him? The answer is as complicated as Urban Meyer’s personality, but it boils down to his inability to deal with the consequences of his actions. Will he coach again? I have no doubt that he will. Brian Kelly better continue to win…and sleep with one eye open.