Meyer Sends a Message

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Last updated: 07/31/2013 3:32 AM
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Football
Meyer Sets Stern Tone With Hyde Suspension
By Tony Gerdeman

Urban Meyer
Photo by Jim Davidson
Urban Meyer

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer suspended Carlos Hyde for at least the first three games of the 2013 season Tuesday night for his involvement in a night club incident over a week ago. In doing so, he set a standard for discipline that is going to be hard to live up to.

Granted, most coaches in new jobs will set a tone the first time they get a chance to really send a message, and this was Meyer's opportunity to get everyone on the same page.

Having now seen the video, I think it's fair to say that the vast, vast majority of head football coaches would have simply responded with, "Well, we let the legal process play out, and they found no wrongdoing, so there's nothing more to say. He's good to go."

And that response wouldn't have been unfounded. After all, even the girl in question didn't think the incident was serious enough to press charges.

But it was obviously serious to Meyer, who has implemented a group of core values to his team, one of which is "Treat women with respect."

Meyer's release to the media late Tuesday didn't mention that particular core value, but it's safe to assume that some type of core value was disregarded that night. Instead of specifics, Meyer's statement sticks to generics.

Carlos Hyde
Photo by Jim Davidson
Carlos Hyde

"Carlos Hyde will be suspended for at least the first three games of the 2013 season for conduct not representative of this football program or this university. He will be required to fulfill additional obligations before he is allowed to play in a game."

Many expected an obligatory one-game suspension, or maybe a two-game suspension, which would have seemed like an appeasement to those who claim Meyer is soft on discipline. But three games...three games feels like punishment.

And hey, punishment should feel like punishment.

College football is filled with obligatory punishments. Missing the season opener against Aunt Cathy University doesn't seem to have been much of a deterrent over the decades.

But then it's really never been meant to be a deterrent.

After all, part of the reason coaches don't want to face a top-notch opponent in the first week of the year is because they know there will always be a high possibility of suspensions to open the season.

At least this punishment means something. Three games will be missed, including one against a San Diego State team that won at Boise State last year, as well as a game on the road in an unfamiliar Pac 12 stadium. Hyde will be missing, and he will be missed.

However, because of this suspension, Meyer's message will be heard far and wide. Put yourself in a situation that you shouldn't be in, and there will be repercussions. If you don't walk away from a bad situation, then you'll eventually sit because of it.

The punishment certainly means something to Carlos Hyde, who has let himself, his team and his coaches down. He was going to be Urban Meyer's first 1,000-yard running back this season. He may still be, but he's going to have to find his way out of the doghouse first.

Hyde will stay play in at least as many games as he did last season, when he suited up 10 times in 2012. And let's not forget that he only had 35 carries through the first five weeks of the season last year. He will probably have more carries than that after five weeks this season, so yeah, it's a harsh punishment, but it's not the end of Hyde's world, nor should it be.

It wasn't that long ago when an Ohio State defensive tackle got a July DUI and didn't miss a game, and that was a year when the Buckeyes opened with Youngstown State.

Things are apparently different now.

Some fans are already saying that Meyer has caved to media pressure by handing down such a harsh punishment, but those same fans are ignoring the fact that Meyer was ready to cut Hyde loose entirely a little more than a week ago.

Carlos Hyde is incredibly fortunate today to still have a chance to return to the team, regardless of any media pressure.

A coach's job is to win games, not appease the media. That's generally the last thing on any coach's mind.

"Well, before I act on this, I'd like to check out sports talk radio to get a feel for how I should proceed."

That has never happened.

Meyer could have gone easier on Hyde and simply moved on from it, because lest we forget, the Buckeyes went 12-0 last season, so the coach has built up quite a bit of capital in a short amount of time. Plus, the legal system ran its course and came up empty, which is always a coach's go-to reason for leniency.

Meyer's reign to this point has been nearly flawless, even when his players' actions off the field haven't been. In fact, some fans believe that the harshness of this punishment was Meyer's first mistake, which means that they've gotten the message as well.

That's exactly what Urban Meyer wanted.

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