Published July 08, 2013
Let's go ahead and charge Urban Meyer with accessory to murder, before the fact.
That's a thing, right? If not, it needs to be. The case against Meyer is as follows: New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez allegedly has murdered God only knows how many people.
He went to Florida.
Meyer coached him at Florida.
Meyer's fingerprints therefore are all over this, or so goes the logic of the segment of our society that loves to affix blame. This is ridiculously dumb, yet nonetheless the media decided to use Hernandez's arrest for murder as a platform to pillory the then-Florida, now Ohio State football coach for producing national championships with flawed "student athletes" instead of losing with Biblical scholars. This crowd has a stat, too, provided by The New York Times, of 31 arrests of Gators players from 2005-10.
Meyer is not guilty, but he is responsible -- if you follow that logic to its idiotic conclusion.
We love this narrative of good guys and bad guys in college sports. This tale is easy to spot because it contains phrases like, "He does things the right way" or, "All he cares about is winning."
All they all care about is winning because that is all we care about, and the sooner everybody accepts this reality the quicker we can stop pretending Odin Lloyd would be alive today if not for Meyer's very unique trait of wanting to win.
Did Meyer recruit some bad dudes to Florida? Obviously, yes.
The reason they went to Florida is because Meyer beat everybody to players like Hernandez in recruiting, not because Alabama or USC or Michigan passed because it went into a living room in Bristol, Conn. and smelled the potential homicides. Nor is Meyer, or Florida, to blame for the fact that Hernandez took his free education, his free training that led to him to the NFL or his five-year, $40 million contract and decided to kill a dude, allegedly, with his homies over being disrespected.
This seems to fall under the personal responsibility clause of our contracts here on Earth, a clause being ignored a lot lately. We want to blame the guy we cheated with and ignore that we cheated. We want to blame McDonald's and ignore that we have not worked out in five years. We want to blame Meyer and ignore that we celebrate him and his coaching brethren not for Rhodes Scholars produced but championships. He did what we value, and now we want to quibble?
But a man is dead, Jen ....
This idea that, somehow, Meyer has blood on his hands is patently ridiculous.
Three people have blame in this:
1. Aaron Hernandez, and:
2. His parents, though losing his dad at such a crucial age certainly explains how that influence was weakened.
The heavy emphasis is on the former because, even if parents do everything right, there is still a chance they produce fundamentally flawed humans. I love how his parents seem to be getting a walk while his college football coach is getting killed. If my kid ends up being a suspect in a homicide, I am not going to be asking "Where did her preschool teacher screw up?"
Everybody is accountable for his own choices. Not a coach, not a team, not even parents -- though parents have the best chance to influence the kinds of choices made. The thing about bad choices is, in groups, they -- not where you went to school or who coached you -- are usually an indicator of who you are.
This has not stopped the Meyer dog pile. He tried to defend himself via text to The Columbus Dispatch, noting "relating or blaming these serious charges to the University of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible. ... He was an athlete at Florida 4-7 years ago, and there are some comments being made that are not correct. Our staff, myself and our families worked very hard to mentor and guide him."
Obviously, those attempts failed.
They failed not because Meyer is a bad guy but because Hernandez is. There was no mentoring him, no saving him from himself and, frankly, it is intellectually dishonest to pretend that is what Florida was paying Meyer to do. He was a coach, paid to win, which he did quite often.
Meyer is not responsible for Hernandez or what he ultimately ended up doing, and pretending otherwise is just blaming after the fact.