IOWA CITY, Iowa – Already one of the greatest coaches in the history of college football, Urban Meyer is used to doing things his way and having it look good.
He is the only coach to win at least 20 games in a row four times and he’s accomplished that at three different schools, including his current job at Ohio State.
You could argue that Meyer is a coaching genius, a legend in the making.
But that doesn’t mean Meyer is immune from making poor decisions as evidenced by his handling of starting quarterback J.T. Barrett’s arrest this past Saturday for driving under the influence.
It’s hard to criticize Meyer for suspending Barrett for just one game because, unfortunately, that is the widely accepted punishment for a student-athlete who is charged with a first-time misdemeanor OWI offense.
Personally, I think a two-game suspension for a football player should be the minimum punishment for driving under the influence because it’s a decision and an act that puts so many others at risk.
Where I criticize Meyer is his decision to make Barrett forfeit his summer aid, which is being reported. Meyer comes off as being self-serving because he apparently thinks what Barrett did was serious enough to make Barrett, or Barrett’s family, pay for school, but not serious enough to suspend Barrett for more than just one game.
Why put more of the financial burden on Barrett’s family than on the team?
I think I know why, but the answer isn’t very flattering to Ohio State from my perspective.
I think that suspending Barrett for at least two or three games would send a stronger message than making him pay for summer school, especially if somebody related to Barrett takes on the responsibility of paying for his summer school.
Letting his team down by missing multiple games would send the strongest message, while also teaching a valuable lesson.
Playing college football is a privilege that should demand more accountability.
The judicial system will make Barrett pay for his offense, assuming he is guilty. But that shouldn’t excuse his college from doing the same. A place of higher learning should have more responsibility than just teaching.
The suspension should be in proportion to how many games a team plays, meaning a basketball player who gets arrested for drunken driving should miss more games than a football player.
Barrett from all accounts is a good kid who made a poor decision that put others at risk. He has the rare distinction of being a captain for Ohio State despite only being a sophomore.
He’s also one heck of a quarterback, the final piece to what could be another championship run for the Buckeyes.
Nothing against Ohio State’s other quarterback Cardale Jones, but the Buckeyes are better on offense with Barrett playing behind center. Barrett is a better runner than Jones and that makes the Buckeyes harder to defend.
Barrett’s timing couldn’t have been worse with Meyer having recently named him the starter again over Jones. It’s easier to perceive that a starter is getting preferential treatment than a reserve.
It’ll be interesting to see what Meyer does if Jones performs well against Minnesota on Saturday. We’re just a few weeks from the point last season when Jones replaced an injured Barrett and then led Ohio State to the national title.
Joneshung on to the starting job for seven games this season before Meyer switched back to Barrett in preparation for the Oct. 24th game at Rutgers. The Buckeyes rolled to an easy win behind Barrett, causing many to think that Ohio State finally was playing up to its potential.
But then came Ohio State’s bye week this past Saturday. There is always concern with a bye week because student-athletes have more time to make bad decisions.
It’s hard for me to agree with a system in which a student-athlete could face a multiple suspension for accepting any type of gift under the table, and yet driving under the influence only gets one game.
Barrett is fortunate that nobody was injured. Now you just hope that he will learn his lesson and never drive under the influence again.
I just wish that better lessons were being taught to him.