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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com

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    Urban Meyer will hold his first press conference of the 2018 season on Monday.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer is back off suspension and will hold his first news conference of the season on Monday. He's expected at the podium around 11:45 a.m.

    Here's what I'm thinking:

    * We know the deal here. So I wont' re-hash it. Just interested in the tone of all of this. I don't anticipate that it will be antagonistic, and I hope that nobody else does. There are some lingering questions about his suspension, some of which will be answered in his ESPN interview, but not all of them. So this won't be all football. I have both football and bigger picture questions about all of this, as I'm sure everyone else in the room does. Interested to see how that plays out.

    * I'll be back closer to 11:45.

    * Definitely some new faces here today. Not sure who they all are. Did see Yahoo's Pat Forde and ESPN's Dan Murphy.

    * Kickoff time with Penn State just got announced. 7:30 p.m. on ABC. Game is in two weeks.

    * OK, back here after writing a quick story on the Ohio State-Penn State kickoff time. Football SID Jerry Emig says reporters will be limited to one follow-up question with Meyer (which is typically the case anyway) and then we'll go back around for more follow-ups if there's time.

    * Was wondering if Gene Smith would be here. He sometimes sits in the back of the room. But I don't see him. Deputy AD Diana Sabau is here.

    * Definitely a different kind of energy in the room. More quiet than it usually is. Some reporters talking about the right way to frame questions, what's fair and what's not fair to ask. Urban's interview with ESPN likely changed the plan for what some were going to ask.

    * Meyer is in the room. Starts with remarks about the TCU game. Normal start.

    * Wondered if Meyer would start this the way he normally does, by recapping game and running through champions from the game. He is. Singled out Dre'Mont Jones and J.K. Dobbins for their games against TCU.

    * Meyer thanks the staff, especially Day, for steering this thing. Then he thanks the players. "It was hard to watch, because it was an intense game," Meyer said.

    * Moving on from football now. Meyer apologizes for his comments at media day, says he was not out to mislead. Said Friday night he got a call about a "felony assault arrest," recapping information that was in the public records provided by Ohio State.

    * Running through a timeline of events now, describing what he thought of Zach Smith when he was putting together staff in 2012. Said he got reports of Smith as a strong recruiter and someone who had knowledge of his offense. So he hired him. Also reiterates that he and Gene Smith told Zach in 2015, that if he hit his wife, he would have been fired.

    * "Once I knew domestic violence was not part of the situation ... I made a decision, 'How do I best help stabilize?"

    * Meyer going through the total timeline of Zach Smith's career, most animated when it comes to things that happened with Zach that Zach did not tell him about.

    * Meyer saying many people have access to his phone: "I've never deleted a text message or changed the settings on my phone." Meyer said the settings on his phone being changed was done by an IT employee at Ohio State, because his phone was filling up.

    * On to questions now. First one if from Mitch Stacy of the AP, asking Meyer what it was like to be away from the team. Meyer said most difficult part was not being around fro training camp.

    * Meyer asked about how this impacts the longevity of his career at Ohio State and if its changed the way he views his OSU, his relationship with the school. He says it does not.

    * Meyer asked about the part of the report that states he's had memory loss issues: "I'm very healthy." Says that he's had cyst issues, had one procedure for it and takes medication for it. Said it hasn't effected the way he's coached the program, also said he doesn't think its necessarily relative to the investigation, but rather a sign of how thorough the investigation was.

    * Asked if his credibility is shattered, Meyer: "That's tough to take." Said he hopes not, while repeating some of his previous talking points and reminding that he was not intentionally misleading.

    * "When I hired him I believed I hired the right guy," Meyer said of Smith. Then he said when he learned of the whole picture through all of this, "I did not hire the right guy."

    * Meyer asked what he thinks of Courtney Smith's claims, said he can only go by what he was told to him by law enforcement.

    * Clay Hall asks if Earle Bruce weighed on Urban's mind throughout all of this: "Not about domestic violence ... once I knew that wasn't part of the equation, how do I best support that family ... I wanted to help Courtney, I wanted to help the children, how do I do this?"

    * Some news in all of this: Nick Bosa won't play this week.

    * Tim May asked about potential administrative shake-up due to the fact that things happened with Zach Smith that he was not made aware of. Said he doesn't want to have an atmosphere where employees are afraid to bring him bad news.

    * Meyer does not say Tom Herman's name, even though it was used in a question about the incident involving Zach Smith and a trip to a strip club while on a recruiting trip. The university confirmed that Herman was the other coach, Meyer said "with all due respect" he wouldn't use a name.

    * Meyer has been asked a few times, in varying ways, if he thinks Courtney Smith was a victim of domestic violence. Said he can only go off of what law enforcement said. Seems like he's getting criticized for some of that on social media. Not sure how else he's supposed to answer that question.

    * Thought Doug got some good back and forth with Urban about getting more oversight from the university in making non-football decisions. Meyer said he's always been on board with that since he got here, that he wants and needs help in making those kind of decisions.

    * Seeing some characterizations on social media that this isn't going well for Meyer. I don't know that I'd agree with that. Haven't felt that he's dodged anything, and haven't felt like he hasn't been engaged in the room.

    * Kind of a clumsy sequence in which Meyer is asked of he questioned the credibility of Zach and Courtney Smith, which was promptly followed up with "How much better can this offense get?"

    * Meyer said he struggles with how involved he's supposed to get with his families. Said he saw Courtney Smith and her and Zach's children around the building many times. The families impact his decisions, he says.

    Meyer is done. A lot to sort through. We'll have more coming at cleveland.com. Thanks for following along.


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    Ohio State and Penn State will meet on Sept. 29 at Beaver Stadium.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State and Penn State will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, the Big Ten announced on Monday. The game will be held at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., and televised on ABC.

    That will mark Ohio State's second game in prime time in three weeks, and the second time in three weeks that the Buckeyes will play in the ABC Saturday night game. Penn State will play back-to-back night games, with a game scheduled at Illinois this Friday night.

    The No. 4 Buckeyes (3-0) play Tulane this weekend in Urban Meyer's return to the sideline.

    The No. 10 Nittany Lions (3-0) have wins over Appalachian State, Pitt and Kent State.


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    Joseph will replace Zane Gonzalez as the team's kicker.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns have found a replacement for Zane Gonzalez. The Browns are signing kicker Greg Joseph, a league source confirmed for cleveland.com. The signing was first reported by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

    Joseph spent training camp with the Miami Dolphins after signing as an undrafted free agent out of FAU. He lost a training camp competition to Jason Sanders, who the Dolphins picked in the seventh round of last April's draft.

    Joseph became FAU's all-time field goal leader in 2017. He spent five years at the school after redshirting his freshman year. He played just one year of football in high school at American Heritage Delray. He connected on 69.5 percent of his kicks during his college career and made 15-of-21 kicks (71.4 percent) in 2017.

    He made all three of his field goal attempts in the preseason, including one from 54 yards.

    Gonzalez, a seventh-round pick in 2017, missed four kicks on Sunday during the Browns' 21-18 loss to the Saints, all in the second half, including a potential game-tying field goal in the closing seconds. All told, he missed two field goals and two extra points.


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    Bosa will miss Saturday's game against Tulane with an abdominal injury.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State will be without junior defensive end Nick Bosa this week against Tulane.

    "He will not play this week," Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said. "He's receiving further tests on an abdominal and groin issue."

    Bosa was injured on the third play of the third quarter in Saturday's win over TCU. He had five tackles and a sack at the time he left the game, including a forced fumble in the end zone that led to an Ohio State touchdown.

    The returning All-American is currently tied for second in the country with five sacks, and tied for fourth in the country with six tackles for loss.

    Ohio State and Tulane kick off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on Big Ten Network.


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    Bill Landis and Doug Lesmerises weighed in after Meyer's hour-long news conference Monday, as he returned as the Buckeyes coach after a three-game suspension. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer spoke to reporters for an hour Monday, answering 36 questions asked about his three-game suspension from Ohio State and his handling of fired receivers coach Zach Smith, which led to his suspension.

    Meyer's primary point in his first news conference since the night he was suspended on Aug. 22 was that he takes the issue of domestic violence seriously, and that his suspension resulted from a general mishandling of Smith as an employee, not because Meyer didn't address accusations of domestic abuse from Smith's ex-wife, Courtney.

    Meyer opened his news conference by going through Ohio State's win over TCU on Saturday, the final game of his suspension that was handled by acting head coach Ryan Day. And then he dealt with what has happened since Zach Smith was fired July 23 and Meyer's words at Big Ten Media Days on July 24 helped set off a confusing two months that led to Meyer's time away and his public return Monday.

    Check cleveland.com throughout the day for more stories and videos from Monday. First, watch this video as Bill Landis and I weighed in after the conclusion of the news conference.


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    The Browns should pump the brakes on releasing Gordon and find out what's really going on with him right now.

    NEW ORLEANS, La.  -- If I were the Cleveland Browns, I wouldn't release Josh Gordon or give him away in a trade.

    I'd hang onto him unless someone makes me an offer I can't refuse, such as a second-round pick. There's no sense of urgency to do this today, or even before Thursday night's home game against the Jets.

    I would slam on the brakes and investigate what's really going on here, because there's so much about this situation that doesn't add up.

    The Browns, who have heard from about eight to 10 teams interested in trading for Gordon including the 49ers, didn't have a chance to sort through it all on Saturday because they were about to board a plane to New Orleans for Sunday's game against the Saints when they decided that they had had enough of Gordon.

    But what if that's exactly what Gordon and his business manager Michael Johnson want?

    Wouldn't it behoove Gordon from a financial standpoint to get cut by the Browns and become a free agent who can sign with the highest bidder? Or be traded to a team that's willing to sign him to a long-term deal with a big signing bonus?

    Remember, Gordon is making only $790,000 this year from the Browns -- many millions less than his counterparts with similar ability.

    The Browns currently own his rights through 2019 if he plays six games this season to earn an accrued year. He'd be a restricted free agent after this year and an unrestricted one after 2019 with a chance to finally cash in.

    But if the Browns release him today, as they told him and Johnson they were going to do, he hits the open market and gets to free agency two years sooner.

    And if they trade him, he has a chance to play for a contender and position himself for a big payday. Why should the Browns let Gordon walk out the door and let another team reap the benefits when they're the ones that have stuck by him for the past six years?

    This is the same Josh Gordon who filed a grievance against the Browns for suspending him for the final game of 2014 when he didn't show up for work on the Saturday before the game. The suspension cost him an accrued season and a chance to hit the open market a year sooner.

    Sources say Gordon has been hurting financially and that he owes people money. It's well-documented that he's embroiled in a bitter child support battle with Christina Lockhart, the mother of his 3-year-old daughter. If Gordon is in a financial jam, the quickest way out is a new deal complete with a big signing bonus.

    If he stays here, he's stuck with the Browns through 2019 at the bargain basement price of the veteran minimum for this year and next.

    Besides, there's so much about the events of Saturday that makes no sense. For starters, who pulls a hamstring in a promotional video shoot, which is what supposedly happened when Gordon was filming at the Browns' facility at around 11 p.m. Friday night. If he had to be at work early in the morning, why was he filming so late?

    Earlier that day, I watched Gordon have his hamstrings thoroughly stretched by a trainer before practice inside the fieldhouse and then go out and catch a bunch of passes in the early drills open to the media. He ran deep, short and intermediate routes, and had no problems, even when falling to the turf several times while trying to keep his feet inbounds in the end zone.

    And if it was just the hamstring, why did Gordon show up late to work on Saturday morning? As I wrote on Saturday, sources told me that he didn't seem like himself, and that some in the building were concerned that perhaps he had slipped up again in his recovery.

    One source noted that the club's decision to part ways was tied to his recurring off-the-field issues and not about pulling a hamstring in a non-team sanctioned video to promote his clothing line.

    Does anyone really believe the Browns would stick with him through six years of suspensions, lies, relapses, returns and promises only to cut him because he tweaked a hamstring in a video shoot? The hamstring saga was just the latest in a string of red flags since Gordon returned Aug. 18 from another prolonged stint in treatment at the University of Florida.

    And why was he filming late at night instead of studying his playbook or getting sleep or otherwise preparing to help the Browns beat the Saints?

    If sobriety is the real concern, the NFL should get involved and put him back in rehab instead of Gordon or someone in his camp leaking that his first two choices for a new team are San Francisco and Dallas.

    Really?

    After all that he's put the Browns and their fans through, now he's sending out his wish list of which contender he'd like to play for?

    Shortly after the Browns announced that they had informed Gordon that they were releasing him, he sent out a farewell message on Instagram and closed with "P.S. anybody need a deep threat WR?''

    On Monday, he posted an Instagram story in which he can be heard laughing at a television report that he had violated the team's trust. 

    But wouldn't Gordon be far more marketable if he were playing in San Francisco with Jimmy Garropolo or in New England with Tom Brady?

    This is the same Gordon and Michael Johnson who sold Gordon's interviews last year to GQ and other outlets, and told Ben Baskin of SI.com. "I can't give you his whole life story ....because, first off, we are not getting paid for this." It's the same Johnson who recently came off probation for his role in the North Carolina recruiting scandal involving his good friend Greg Little, who remains close to Gordon. 

    The Browns are the ones that gave him chance after chance, believing that he was working hard on his rehab and sincere about wanting to get well. Maybe all of that is true, but if it is, they should be getting the payoff and not some other team.

    And if it's not as genuine as they've believed all of these years, they shouldn't let him waltz out the door and be successful for someone else.  

    I understand that the Browns are at the end of their rope, want to move on, and feel like there's nothing more they can do. What's more, they believe they're better without him and would never be able to count on him.

    But something seems off to me about all of this, and I wouldn't make a move until I thoroughly investigate -- or someone knocks my socks off with an amazing offer.

    If Gordon is sober as he claims to be, the Browns can suspend him a game or two for conduct detrimental to the team over the video shoot and then make him come back and play for them for the rest of the season. And if he's not sober, he should be back in rehab.

    I'm sure the Browns, who want no part of him anymore, will proceed with their plan and Gordon will soon be off to greener pastures.

    I just wouldn't make it so easy for him right now.


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    The Browns have traded Josh Gordon to the Patriots for a 2019 fifth-round pick.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Josh Gordon now has an opportunity to achieve one of his biggest career goals: A Super Bowl.

    But it will be with the Patriots and not the Browns.

    The Browns, who reached the end of their rope with Gordon on Saturday, traded the receiver to the Patriots for a 2019 fifth-round pick, the team announced Monday.

    The Browns will give back a 2019 seventh-rounder if Gordon isn't active for at least 10 games.

    "John (Dorsey) got the best deal he could get,'' Browns coach Hue Jackson said on a conference call Monday.

    The Patriots were one of about eight to 10 teams that called the Browns about Gordon after Cleveland announced on Saturday that they were going to release  him.  The 49ers, Cowboys and Redskins were among the teams interested, but none offered as much as the Pats.

    The Browns preferred to keep him out of the AFC, but opted for the highest bidder.

    Jackson said he's not worried about Gordon flourishing with the Patriots.

    "We have to do what we think is best for our organization and our football team, and that's what we did,'' said Jackson. "Josh is no longer here so I do not even want to comment about what could be or what could not have been.''

    Jackson indicated that Gordon wasn't living up to expectations off the field.

    "We've done all we can do for Josh,'' he said. "I just thank Dee and Jimmy Haslam for doing everything that they could. We tried to create the right environment. It just did not work out. Sometimes, it just does not work out. Sometimes, you just need a different change of scenery. Hopefully, things work out for Josh. We support him that way and wish nothing but the best for him."

    He acknowledged that it's time to put the long saga of Gordon behind the organization, one that's been characterized by relapses and many trips back to rehab, including during training camp this summer.

    "I hate to term it a relief - I'm glad that there's closure,'' he said. "Let's just say it that way. I'm glad that we're now in a space to where we're not thinking of those things - what could be and what could not be - and we're coaching these guys that are here and trying to get these guys to play at a high level and win football games."

    He declined to comment on reports that the last straw was Gordon pulling his hamstring during a promotional shoot for him clothing line Friday night at the facility.

    "What's most important is that we made this decision as an organization, regardless of what the factors were, to move forward and to sever our relationship with Josh, wish him well and let him move on to another team,'' he said. "That's as far as I want to go with that."

    He doesn't, believe however, that Gordon wanted out after his six star-crossed seasons here.

    "I don't feel that was the case,'' he said. "I just think there were things that we felt that were not what we want to have happen here. We just made the decision that this is what's best for our football team at this time to move forward."

    Gordon's arrival in New England spelled the departure of former Browns 2016 first-rounder Corey Coleman, who was waived by the club Monday to make room for his former Baylor and Browns teammate. Coleman, signed by the Pats on Sept. 11, has now been let go by the Browns, Bills and Patriots in the past month.

    This wasn't the first time the Browns and Patriots have done business together lately. New England traded for Browns 2015 first-rounder in Danny Shelton in the offseason, giving up a 2019 third round pick. New England also traded for former Browns cornerback Jason McCourty in the spring.

    Gordon, 27, will now play with Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, and Brady will have the 2013 receiving yardage leader and one of the most talented receivers in the NFL at his disposal.

    But he's also one of the most troubled.

    The Browns shouldn't release Gordon or give him away: Cabot

    The Browns decided to part ways with Gordon after he showed up late for work that morning and was 'not himself,'' sources told cleveland.com. Some in the organization believed that Gordon may have slipped in his recovery program.

    He also complained of a pulled hamstring, which he may have injured during a video shoot at the facility late Friday to promote his clothing line.

    Jackson addressed Gordon's departure with the players Saturday night during a team meeting and "nobody flinched. They understood it. We wish Josh well on his journey. We all love and respect Josh but we had to do what we felt we had to do as an organization."

    He said the move won't rock the locker room.

    "I just think we have strong enough leaders in the room,'' he said. "We move on.''

    Gordon showed up Saturday late and 'not himself'

    A source told cleveland.com that the Browns finally cut ties after six years because of Gordon's off-the-field issues, and not because of the tweaked hamstring and the mysterious circumstances surrounding it.

    The Browns had come to the conclusion that they couldn't rely on Gordon and that they'd be better off cutting their losses.

    He had been suspended for 56 of his possible 98 games with the Browns, and had been to inpatient rehab at least five times.

    Gordon has played in only 11 games since 2014, including five at the end of that year and five at the end of 2017, sitting out all of 2015 and 2016 on suspension. He started last week's 21-21 tie with the Steelers -- against the wishes of Hue Jackson -- and caught one of his three targets, a 17-yard touchdown pass that tied it at 21 with 1:58 in regulation.

    He played 69 snaps for 78% of the game despite being slowed by a hamstring injury in the weeks leading up to the game.

    In Stage 3 of the NFL's substance abuse program, Gordon is subject to drug testing up to 10 times per month, and a violation of the program would result in another indefinite suspension, for a minimum of a year.

    Gordon vows to put his sobriety first

    In Gordon's absence during Sunday's 21-18 loss to the Saints, rookie Antonio Callaway stepped into the starting X spot and caught a 47-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at 18 with 1:16 remaining. Zane Gonzalez, whom the Browns are waiving, missed the extra point and the Saints went on to win on a 44-yard field goal attempt.

    But Callaway vowed that he can fill Gordon's enormous shoes. 

    "I'm ready,'' he said. "That's only a taste of what I can do.''

    In 38 starts since 2012, Gordon has 180 catches for 3,106 yards and 16 TDs. In 2013, his second year in the league after being drafted with a second-round pick in the supplement draft, he led the league with 1,646 yards and made the Pro Bowl.

    Gordon has struggled since middle school with substance abuse, and told GQ Magazine last season that he played every college and pro game either drunk or high before returning for the final five games of last season.

    Gordon has admitted to using codeine, marijuana, Xanas and other drugs.

    "Initially it started for me, [because of] a lot of childhood and adolescent trauma-based fear,'' he told GQ. "I was using in my childhood. That environment brought me into that a lot sooner than a normal. ... I didn't want to feel anxiety, I didn't want to feel fear."

    Gordon recalled his first experience with Xanax in seventh grade.

    "Truthfully, that's where it started from for me,'' he said. "The anxiety, the fitting in and stuff. Not being comfortable with who I was. ... A lot of inadequacy, I think, is the reason why I initially got into it.''

    In addition to his addiction struggles, Gordon is involved in a bitter child support battle with Christina Lockhart, the mother of his three-year-old daughter. He'll now have fight that battle from afar.

    Rod Streater signed

    The Brown also announced they've signed sixth-year NFL receiver Rod Streater (6-2, 195) formerly of the Raiders and 49ers. He's appeared in 52 games with 127 receptions for 1,755 yards and 10 touchdowns.


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    Meyer addressed his suspension and its impact on Monday as he returns to the sideline this week.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Everything Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer said on Monday about his suspension, the potential impact and being back with the team in a full capacity:

    Urban Meyer: Hello. I'd like to share a couple of thoughts on the game first before we get started here. And that is first of all an incredible effort by our team in Dallas. Coach Patterson has been a friend for over 20 years. Incredible respect for that team. That certainly is a top-10 program, top-10 team. First time we got to coach against him. But you saw it Sunday when we started preparation for them.

    To go down there in that environment and play the way they played, just very proud of them. The champions on defense were Nick Bosa, B.B. Landers, Jonathon Cooper, Davon Hamilton, Malik Harrison and Jordan Fuller. They played exceptional. Player of the game was a guy that scored a touchdown -- I've got to read the stats for Dre'Mont: Three tackles, two assists, two tackle for loss, seven quarterback hurries, one knock down, one pass broken up, one interception and one touchdown. Hell of a day.

    On offense, offense you had offensive line, all of them. Played very well. Very much improved group. Isaiah Prince, Michael Jordan, Thayer Munford and Demetrius Knox, he's done so well. Malcolm Pridgeon, first-time starter against that defense. J.K. Dobbins had a great day. Post-contact yardage was awesome. He had 121 total yards.

    And the wide receiver group was outstanding -- K.J. Hill had six interceptions; Johnnie Dixon; Bin Victor, he didn't have any catches, but he really started to come on, threw himself in there on some great blocks.

    Terry McLaurin, one of the most unselfish players I've ever been around. Start to throw him in the Evan Spencer category, and Parris Campbell. Player of the game was Dwayne Haskins, 24-of-38 for 344 yards, three total touchdowns. Really played very well.

    On the kicking game, Johnnie Dixon was the player of the game. Went down, punted inside the 10, 39-yard kickoff return and 17 production points. The other guy who is playing exceptional, Jahsen Wint. These two did very well. I'll talk about that here in a second. That's the champions.

    And also playing to win, -- we're playing to win in big games especially on the road against elite personnel. This was followed pretty much to a "T" against an explosive offense and very good defense.

    But the play of the win -- we had two defensive scores. And our defense, which we'll count the punt block part of the defensive play now. Two scores and turn the ball over on the 25-yard line. And the offense scored two plays later. That's a 21-point switch, shift. I'm not sure you win that game without that.

    TCU started 13 of their 14 drives inside their own 25, nine of those inside their own 20. They have a punt returner and kick returner that is one of the best I've seen, certainly in the last 10 years, named Turpin.

    We knew that going in. Kind of took your breath away as you're getting ready to watch him play. He had three kickoff returns for just 56 yards. That's under 20 yards a return and zero punt return yards.

    The amount of time and effort that our players put into that was phenomenal. Justin Hilliard, Dante Booker, Marcus Williamson, Keandre Jones, Jahsen Wint, Jeff Okudah, Terry McLaurin are just some guys that I have so much appreciation for their unselfishness for that phase of the game, which is obviously important.

    I want to thank the Buckeye Nation for the support down in Texas. It's the third time we've been down there since '14. And the support was awesome.


    I also want to thank Coach Day. I knew Coach Day was a difference-maker when we hired him. I followed his career. He was with me in Florida.

    His professionalism and what he's done has been phenomenal and the rest of our staff, with Coach Schiano, Kevin Wilson, the other coaches, have been tremendous.

    But most important I want to thank our players. And it was very hard to watch because it was such an intense game but it seemed as the game got tougher, our players got better. And that's because of good people, brotherhood and most importantly a very good team.

    This was the first time I've had a chance to visit with you since media day. And I want to start off by apologizing for that performance.

    I want to be really clear that there is zero intent to mislead. The report found that. I did not answer questions with the accuracy that I should have. I did listen closely to the questions.

    And I want to explain why. Late the night before, the press conference, in Chicago, I received a text message. And the message asked me would I like to comment on a felony assault arrest in 2015 of Zach Smith. I was shocked.

    I had no recollection of a felony assault arrest. I immediately sent a group text out to people, and the people were Gene Smith, Jerry, our assistant athletic director, I recall, and then a couple people back here at the office. And to paraphrase the text, it was: I do not recall the events of 2015; please advise. I do not want to be wrong at media day.

    And that was out there. And that's what I sent out.

    And about an hour later, I get a phone call from a staff member here who is our liaison for law enforcement. And he says, Coach, there's no arrest. We can't even find a police report from 2015. The only thing that we see on his record is a divorce and his recent trespass situation that he had in July.

    And there's nothing to that story. There's nothing to it. I hang up the phone. I go to sleep. I wake up in the morning, and I go to media day.

    The focus of my -- as I was asked questions, was on that felony arrest that never took place. And so once again, for those of you -- I see some of you here that asked those questions -- I apologize.

    I gotta do a better job of listening. It was very uncomfortable -- obviously there to talk about football, players and teams.

    But that situation, when I got started getting peppered about questions about what I perceive to be a felony assault arrest, that's the reason I answered the way I did.

    I've always had a somewhat a good relationship with the media. I've always been forthright with you the best I can. If I have not been, I apologize, but there's no intent. There's no intent -- for those of you that know me well, some of you don't know me at all -- there's never been an intent to mislead.

    I would also like to give you a little bit of a timeline of what's happened in the last several years here. In 2012 I was hired at Ohio State and I was putting together a staff and the staff was going fast. A lot of activity going on. A lot of recruiting going on.

    And I looked into Zach Smith. He's worked at two other previous universities. I was getting very, very high recommendations about his performance as a recruiter and his knowledge of our offense.


    I made a decision to hire him. In 2012, '13 and '14, he did a very good job. One of the best recruiters on our staff, developed an excellent group of receivers. Some would say the 2014 group of receivers was as good as ever played here at Ohio State.

    In 2015, I received -- Gene Smith came up to me on the practice field and told me there was a domestic issue between Zach and Courtney. We were both furious.

    I remember getting a hold of Zach and telling him if it was a domestic violence, you're fired immediately. Gene Smith reiterated that issue to him, that this would be instant termination if this was domestic violence.

    He told us it was not. He would never hurt -- hit Courtney. He would never -- he had never done it, would never do it. And once again, I and Gene made perfectly clear, if this domestic violence you're terminated within minutes.

    And so -- I then asked Gene, I said what do I need to do? Gene said allow the investigation to take place, do not get involved in the investigation; we'll update you along the journey. And that was right in the middle of the season. '15, as you recall, was a very up and down season, very intense season.

    And I was updated throughout that time. As I was receiving updates as it became clear (indiscernible) the conclusion, what I was hearing back from law enforcement is that this was not domestic violence, that this was a very nasty divorce, child custody issues involved, but it was not domestic violence.

    And finally, in conclusion, that's what we received back, that there was no arrest, no charges, not domestic violence, just a very messy divorce with child custody issues.

    I then had to make a decision. And that decision was -- I've seen Courtney Smith for many years around here with her beautiful children -- I made a decision like I have in the past, once I knew domestic violence was not part of the situation -- once again, if it was, it was perfectly clear -- the report shows that; (indiscernible) report came out with that saying that she was impressed with our core values of treating with respect, which we work so hard on around here. And also I would fire any staff member immediately if I believed or I was told that this was in fact domestic violence.

    So I made a decision, how do I best help stabilize. I've seen these kids many, many times. Like I said, I've seen Courtney many, many times. I was dealing with a coach who was dealing with work-related issues. All during this time was this separation and divorce.

    I made a decision, I talked to Gene about it, let's get him very intense counseling, let's monitor it closely and try to stabilize this guy so he can be a good father and support the family the way he should.

    And that's what we did. So we put him in counseling. We watched it very closely throughout the counseling. I was made aware of a couple of scenarios, situations that took place.

    One was a credit card situation where he was supporting two homes, I was told, and he had maximized his credit cards. Gene and I both sat with him to try to advise him through that.

    I was also made aware that through the counseling, university counseling that he has a prescription drug that he was using more than he should. I again asked what needed to be done. They assured me he was doing much better. He was getting everything in order. And I actually thought he made it through it.

    He came out the other end of this very difficult time. His production increased. He looked much better. I saw his children constantly, which I encourage; we have family nights every week. So I see his children all the time.

    He became once again one of our better recruiters. Had a good year. Had a great year in '17, and actually had some job offers this year to move on. He made the decision to stay here because he didn't want to leave his children.

    I thought we made -- periodically when asked about the relationship with him and Courtney, I was told by him that it was very good, it was very good. So that was in '16, '17. And really the first six months of '18 I heard nothing other than things were going fairly well, very well.

    And then summer of 2018, we were on vacation. I was back here getting ready for training camp, I was made aware of a trespassing citation. I called him immediately on the vacation. I asked what's this all about. And I find out it's actually two months prior to when I find out. I was very upset with him, very angry about not being forthright.

    And I alerted Gene immediately about the trespassing. He made it sound as if he just dropped his kids off at the wrong place. He was supposed drop them off here, instead he dropped them off here. He had said like a $25 fine or something like that.

    I was so angry that I had to hear about it from somewhere else. I made it clear: You keep me posted on everything. I made it clear to all our coaches; I need to know before I'm told from you.

    And I go to Chicago. Bring my family to Chicago on Monday. I'm made aware of a protective order against Zach. Once again he does not tell me. A protective order is very serious. And I begin to go into termination mentality. And I alert Gene Smith a few hours later and I fire Zach Smith.

    One other thing that I was asked several times throughout the investigation and recently I've been asked is about the deleted text messages or changing settings on my phone. And I've never deleted a text message. I've never changed a setting on my phone.

    And I was asked that. I made that clear to the investigators. I've made it clear also -- many, many people have access to my phone, including IT people, including some people that help me recruit. It's not uncommon for me to recruit over a hundred players a day and receiving videos.

    I have hundreds of videos of my grandson and other family videos. And what happens is my phone started locking up throughout the spring and -- throughout the spring.

    And an IT person would take my phone and whatever he did he did to increase the storage capacity. And I found out several months ago, I think late spring is what I was told, is that he'd changed my setting to one year. Once again, I never changed the setting on my phone. I never changed the text message on my phone. And when I heard that -- I highly respect the report. I would never do that, and I did not do that.

    With that said, I'll any questions for you.

    Q. Could you describe what it was like for you sitting and watching the first three games, where you were and what you were doing and how that was for you?

    Meyer: I was just devastated. I love these players. I have such great respect for these players. And that's why I've tried to share throughout my career is how hard these guys worked. I think a lot of times people see No. 68, No. 5, No. 7. And the time and effort that goes into that, that's their payday, that's the time to showcase. I'm not a part of it.

    I think even as hard as that is not being able to be there at training camp. That's when you build your team and that's why I stay in a hotel with them. It's very difficult.

    I watched it at home. Some support would come over to my house, friends, very close friends. And this one in particular, I only watched the good plays. I couldn't take it. I only watched the good ones. My daughter kept me updated and I would seriously -- sounds silly but I would leave the room. The way that game started, it looked like -- that team is very good. I only watched the good plays. And there were some really good plays.

    Q. Did you yell at the TV?

    Meyer: I don't yell -- I just squeeze my arms. You see it on the sideline, wake up with bruised arms all that.

    Q. You've mentioned many times how much you love this university. Has this situation affected your relationship with the university perhaps your longevity here?

    Meyer: I have a great relationship with our president, Gene Smith, I'm as close to Gene Smith as anybody. And this to me has never been a job. You know, when I took a year off, I wasn't planning on coming back coaching football. I was asked by Gene and the president at the time, Ohio State was going through a hard time.

    And part of my family didn't want me to coach again. And I came back because of my sincere love for the state. I grew up here. I played high school football here. Played college football here. I love this school. I have a master's degree from Ohio State. My love is unwavering for Ohio State. Even more so now.

    My apology is to Ohio State. My apology, I made a mistake, and you're going to hear this throughout this several times, but my apology is not for turning my back to domestic violence. I want to be so clear about that. The report clearly states that. And it was a very thorough investigation.

    If I paraphrase the findings is that they respect our sincere commitment to respecting women. And if I was ever aware or made aware or told that there was domestic violence taking place I would have fired him immediately.

    My error -- and I've been accused of this before by giving people chances, and I saw a guy with work-related issues that have two children and an ex-wife, and he needed to support the way a man is supposed to support them. And I went -- and I was suspended for the fact that I went too far to try to help a guy with work-related issues. To answer your question, my love is stronger than ever for this university.

    Q. With regard to the Zach and Courtney situation, are there things you wish you could say about that you feel like you can't say?

    Meyer: This has been occupying my life for whatever weeks now. So I think I've said everything I possibly can. I'm not sure.

    Q. I didn't know if there was something you wish you could say that you can't say publicly about -- it's a very delicate situation obviously.

    Meyer: Very delicate.

    Q. Things you wish you could say about it?

    Meyer: (No response.)

    Q. Couple Fridays ago, I think it was before the first game, you put out a statement on Twitter reiterating, like you have here, of why you were suspended. I'm wondering what were you seeing, what were you hearing, what prompted you that I need to clear this up? Was there a tipping point for you that I gotta do something now?

    Meyer: Obviously came from my family. I'm not a social media guy. I don't, especially in difficult times when I understand there's some pretty hard criticism out there, I just, I do what I try to do. What was brought back to me was that there was a perception out there that I was suspended because of domestic violence.

    And my entire life, I think I've put out there, that this is something that when I was a child it was made very clear to me, it's about core values and you can fix a mistake. There's no fixing domestic violence. When that takes place it's dismissal, immediate removal of the person from the program. And I was not suspended for that. It was very clear in the report.

    That was really, I think, the original part of the report is if we turn our back on domestic violence -- that was the number reason. And my daughter actually -- I don't know how to tweet out -- she actually -- I wasn't allowed to -- usually the university does it for me. And that was -- we all felt it was very necessary to be very clear what was taking place.

    And I'm going to stay at other times -- I apologize for being repetitive -- that I was suspended -- I want to say this, too, that Dr. Drake, who I have incredible respect, I apologize for putting him in this situation.

    But the mistake was once again, and we've shared this conversation many, many times, the mistake was going -- especially when some of these things started being reported in the media that I had no idea about.

    This is an extremely strong and proud university with an incredible president, great athletic director. I've tried for the majority -- for my career -- to do the right thing. And I went too far trying to help a troubled employee with work-related issues, like I've done before. I've helped other staff members who have, obviously.

    Q. Just quickly, your relationship with this current staff that you've had to stay away from and they've gone through pregames, has it changed -- are you closer -- I'm just wondering how you feel about that?

    Meyer: Very unique situation. And I'm just -- I can't be more impressed. You guys saw it. And that's not by accident. I mean people say you go win a game. You just look across every week how hard it is to win a college football game. You take nothing for granted.

    You know how involved I am in the kicking game just to see the punts getting off and the guys covering and the guys -- I mean ball security. I don't have the stats right here. But that part of that game was won because we had created three turnovers, two for scores and a blocked punt. We had zero. Our punting was outstanding. Just things like that, that's how we measure an excellent coaching staff. And Ryan Day is elite. As well as other coaches on our staff. I'm very thankful for.

    Q. The report found that you have suffered memory issues or from memory loss, used that as an explanation for some of your decision-making. What influence did that have on your ability to coach this football team?

    Meyer: I'm very healthy. I've had cyst issues in my head over the years. And I've had a couple of procedures and actually one surgery, also very intense medicine -- I'm telling you, this report was so thorough and so transparent.

    And so when questions came up about some of the conversations, for example, exact conversations back in 2015 or back before that and I didn't have great recollection of it, to they would ask: Have you had any of this? Have you had this? What about this? It was very transparent and very personalized. But I'm very healthy.

    Q. Do the memory issues that you had impact some of the decision making you made, or was that just --

    Meyer: I think it was just so transparent. There's things in that report that are very transparent and very thorough, the relativeness to the investigation. But I can just be truthful and tell you I've had heavy some pretty meds at times but it certainly -- doesn't impact the way I coach.

    Q. How damaging has this been to your credibility? Paul Finebaum last night said your credibility has been shattered. How do you feel about that?

    Meyer: It's tough to take. I've spent 30-plus years in coaching. Never been perfect. Tried extremely hard. My love of players, my love of development of players, my love of team, my love of the university has never been challenged.

    When I start to hear that -- that's why I'm hoping that something like this, for clarity, I wanted to go through everything.

    If -- I did not lie to you -- if they talk about lying to the media, I did not lie to the media. I did not do a very good job. Now everybody has a decision to make and a choice to make. I was very clear about why I was doing, why I said what I said. And I apologize for that. If that destroys a guy's credibility, then I apologize for that.

    Also, did I turn my back to domestic violence? Not one bit. I never would do that. That's been made perfectly clear after that very thorough investigation.

    And for people who know me, know that's absolutely intolerable. I've always been a very strong advocate of anti-domestic violence.

    I've been accused of giving student-athletes more than one chance, sometimes more than two chances, especially people from very tough situations. Not core value situations, but mistakes. And with great success we've had over the years, not perfect, but great success over the years.

    I've helped staff members who have had issues over the years. Not exactly like this, but a couple that had marital issues. Great success.

    I erred in going too far to try to help a guy with work-related issues. And as the investigation took place, these behaviors were showing up that I had no awareness of. So once again, I can only do what I do. I apologize. But there's no intent to mislead and no intent to not be truthful with everybody, including this university, including you guys. I went too far. That's what the president -- that's why I was suspended.

    Q. How do you explain the discussions regarding the text messages and the potential of deleting text messages?

    Meyer: With all due respect to that report, once again, a very transparent, very open report, I don't recall exactly any conversations about that. The article came out. And I once again, during the investigation, they asked me about that.

    They found my settings to be on one year, which I wasn't quite sure what that meant. And I found out later, after I went back to work, that the IT people changed my phone to one year months earlier than that.

    There was never a deleted message. And I think the report even said that. I can't recall exactly what it said. But I did not delete text messages, never changed a setting in my phone.

    Q. How do you balance your desire to help coaches through issues and your desire to give your players the best coaching and modeling as possible?

    Meyer: That's a great question and one that I've been replaying in my head over and over again. When I hired Zach, glowing reviews from the previous two coaching staffs he worked on, about his family, about his recruiting, about his first few years here, fantastic. 2012, he took -- I think our leading receiver had ten catches the year before we got here. He developed Philly Brown, Devin Smith and all those guys, second year.

    Third year, we won a national title of receivers, elite. 2015, you had an eight-month window of separation, a divorce, work-related issues that we were dealing with.

    And I had two choices: Eliminate him right there. But I just -- I saw Courtney around here so many times throughout recruiting. And we had family dinners every week.

    I saw these children, which I encourage all the time, I saw them all the time, around here. And just the way my head works is how do I help this situation. Firing, would that help him? In hindsight, if I knew some of the things I knew after this investigation about his personal behavior that I was unaware of, that's an obvious. But at the time, that's not what I was made aware.

    That's a fine line. I try to have pretty good success rate of hiring elite coaches around here. And really my entire career, with all the head coaches. And character is very important.

    When I was hiring him, I believed I hired the right guy. In hindsight, now I look back with all these other issues that took place during that time period, I did not hire the right guy.

    Q. Have you found throughout this whole process that you learned some valuable lessons about domestic violence, Coach? I know you made (indiscernible) and things like that before, but have you found this an educational process for yourself (indiscernible)?

    Meyer: I found this whole thing to be an educational process. And since my first day at Bowling Green, when I was putting together our coaches' manual, thinking -- because I was raised that way.

    When I was a young man, my dad taught us our core values: Honesty, treat women with respect, no drugs (indiscernible), no stealing.

    That's always been that way. I can't say that all of a sudden now this is on the forefront; it always has been. But to say I haven't learned, I learned a great deal.

    I learned -- we brought in Ray Wright [phonetic], spoke to our team about that. We always have.

    Shelley Meyer and Sheila Smith put on a workshop last year called Healthy Relationships. And it's just always on the forefront.

    Throughout the facility, we have examples of mistakes made by people that just destroy lives. So it's always been on the forefront. But to say have I learned, I learned a great deal.

    Q. I wanted to clarify your conversation with (inaudible). You didn't talk about text messages at all that day, obviously?

    Meyer: My recollection of that is that there's an article out, something about the press gaining access to your phone. And I said, "I don't worry about my phone. There's nothing to hide on my phone." And that was it.

    Q. And then you said at that time you didn't believe it was a domestic violence issue.

    Meyer: I'm sorry?

    Q. You said in 2015 you were told there was no domestic violence issue. What do you believe about Courtney Smith's allegations?

    Meyer: Back in 2015 -- the report said that both Gene and I were too reliant on law enforcement. And my entire career, we've been taught, if there's any type of investigation with a student-athlete, with a staff member, any law investigation, stay out of it and get updates along the way.

    All I can go by is what I was told by law enforcement. And that was that there's no domestic violence and this was a messy divorce with child custody involved. That's what we were told.

    Q. Is that still what you believe?

    Meyer: I can only go by what was told to me by law enforcement. What I have learned is that, especially a situation as serious with law enforcement, you need to ask more questions.

    And I've always been kind of told not to. And I just think that after going through this that I need to ask more questions.

    Q. I think you've addressed it, but I recall when you were hired, OSU was going through a tough time. And I asked something about: When you encounter a situation. And you said you have to go in there and blow it up. I mean, you cited chapter and verse here. Your statement seems to reflect -- with regard, in general, to Zach, was there a time when you should have blown it up, I guess is the question?

    Meyer: I look back now, there was. At the time that it was time to make a decision was -- like I said, '12, '13 and '14 were very productive years. '15, that's when work-related issues started to surface, too.

    He was late for summer meetings, a handful of meetings. And also this domestic situation that law enforcement was involved.

    I had to make a decision. When it came back to me that there was no charges and no arrests, and it was actually told to us that this was not domestic violence -- I look back now, I'm not sure I'd do the same thing; I might say that's enough, to get to that point, especially how serious that is.

    But that's a hard situation. I've had conversations with some colleagues about that, what do you do? Do you question the police? I'm not allowed to question the police.

    Are you allowed to go beyond and start contacting victims and investigating yourself? That's -- you're done. You can't do that; that's called tampering.

    Those are the fine lines that other people have dealt with, I've dealt with over the years. Many leaders, I've talked to a couple friends of mine in corporate America, and they deal with HR and you let the professionals do their work. And that's what I did.

    Q. Did Earle's influence always weigh on your mind?

    Meyer: Not about domestic violence, no. No. I think the fact that Earle was such a close mentor of mine, that the work-related issues -- I once again go back to seeing Courtney and seeing these children many, many times throughout the several years here. I mean, many times, because we encourage that.

    I wanted to try -- once I knew domestic violence was not part of the equation -- how best to help these two young kids.

    Fire Zach Smith? Can he support that family? And what happens next? And I knew they were work-related. I thought all the work-related stuff was about this tumultuous time in his life. I wanted to help Courtney. I wanted to help the children. How do I do that?

    And I talked to several people: How do I do this? And we had very good success, like I said, over the years. Tried to put him in intense counseling so he could stabilize that family and be a good father, support the family the way he should.

    Q. Ryan Day said that while you were gone he didn't want to disrupt anything; he wanted to have everything ready for you and he just didn't want to rock the boat. When you returned, do you sort of do the same thing, even though it's your program, do you actually (inaudible), you don't want to just come in be like a bull in a china shop?

    Meyer: That's a good way of putting it, bull in a china shop. He's done and this coaching staff has done phenomenal. You guys are witness to it.

    I was back two weeks ago, and I even asked today how do I assist? I'm a fundamental person, a ball security guy. I watch things very closely. I'm very involved in the kicking game. I have not been that involved in the offense. I give my ideas. And I think they're doing exceptional. So I'm trying to just help, do the best I can.

    Q. Do you have an update on Nick Bosa?

    Meyer: Yes, he's getting further tests this week. He went on to play this week. Further tests on an abdominal and groin issue (indiscernible).

    Q. When Gene Smith came to you in 2016 to talk about Zach Smith's allegations of domestic violence, why didn't you inform him about the 2009 incident involving Zach Smith at Lawrence [phonetic]?

    Meyer: That was actually in 2015 he came to me.

    Q. Right.

    Meyer: In 2009, I was led to believe this was not domestic violence. There were no charges filed. I look back now, that when I -- he worked at two other universities. And then he came, and that's when I hired him at Ohio State, that's when I should have made him aware of this situation.

    In 2015, I can't recall if I did or not. That's the 2009 situation.

    Q. If my recollection is right, Gene Smith said that he was not aware of the 2009 incident. If you didn't inform him, did you feel like that was in any way covering up a problematic situation?

    Meyer: Not covering up. But in hindsight, I should have. I thought I did. But --

    Q. Lastly, do you believe that Courtney Smith was ever a victim of domestic violence?

    Meyer: I can only rely on what information I received from the experts.

    Q. Do you anticipate an administrative staff shake-up with your staff based on the way things have been brought to you in the past concerning the other things that obviously went on with Zach Smith, from sex in the office kind of situation and all these other things that kind of comes in that went on without you knowing about it, do you anticipate making any changes in that regard?

    Meyer: Two things there: Number one, I need to do a better job creating an atmosphere -- football, especially during the season -- is so intense. Obviously a very intense focussed guy. And people need to feel comfortable coming to me if there's any scenarios or situations like this.

    I've started that process. The majority -- I've not talked to one person who was aware of that stuff that was going on. So I'm not sure -- I know the report, I think, said something like that.

    But when you start talking about some of these behaviors that I'm asked and they're not aware of is behaviors that surfaced during the last two months [phonetic].

    Q. Follow up. You've even said this in a press conference, you like to have positive news come across your desk, that's where kind of you like to operate. Do you think it's intimidated some folks into not bringing you negative news, so to speak?

    Meyer: I hope not. That's something that Gene and I have talked about that I need to do -- I always thought I had that atmosphere. If someone was aware of somebody's behaviors and did not bring it to my attention, I obviously have to work on that, and I have.

    Q. Obviously that report about the strip club stuff including another coach, Tom Herman. Do you remember having a conversation at all with Tom Herman during this time here about some things getting out of hand, et cetera? What do you recall? Because obviously he was there with Zach in this one instance, at least. What do you recall of any of that?

    Meyer: With all respect, there were two coaches involved. And when it was made clear, when I was told what had happened, I was extremely upset.

    I called them into my office immediately. I told them they would be fired if it ever happened again. That day, I instituted a morality clause in the program.

    I've been told that it takes place in other places. And I don't care. It's Ohio State, we don't do that. So I was just very clear that we don't do that.

    Q. We've all seen the text messages that Shelley had with Courtney Smith. And I think you've been pretty -- you've been clear from your recollection you recall nothing of Shelley bringing that to you in any form or fashion, that kind of news. I mean, do you stick by that story, so to speak; she did not bring this up to you in 2015 or '16?

    Meyer: She never shared the text messages with me.

    Q. What damage do you believe has been done to the Ohio State football program as a result of this and the investigation?

    Meyer: I think there was. I think this is -- hopefully this -- I've already had conversations with recruits and families of our players. We sent out several letters to the families. But to say there's not damage, there was.

    I'm hoping that the clarity of the damage is that why I was suspended and what the report came back, and that I was not lying to the media. I was not lying to people, or that I turned -- I or we turned our back to domestic violence.

    And I'm going to do the best I can. If we can remove those two, which is the truth, the damage, I believe, is that we just went through a really hard time and I made a mistake in helping a troubled employee, went too far trying to help someone that had some work-related issues.

    Q. So you've mentioned domestic violence (indiscernible) several times. And obviously I think special (inaudible) does vary. You understand that; it's a very important part of this --

    Meyer: Sure.

    Q. -- that it is a very serious situation handled properly by people who are in power. And everyone's made a lot of having the words on the wall, that type of thing. In terms of actions to show how seriously you say you take domestic violence, what are the concrete examples you point to in your past that show this is how to take domestic violence seriously and what will you do, what can Ohio State do in the future to show that, Ohio State, the football program, you take this very seriously?

    Meyer: Ever since I began as a head coach, and even in more recent years, I would say every other day is a very strong -- last night I talked to our team about it.

    We have power unit messages to our players every Thursday, and I talk about domestic violence, Title IX respect. When I say the word "Title IX," our players respond back to me: "Respect."

    That's how serious we take this. This is something that is constantly -- we have conversation. It's not uncommon for me to send a group text out on a Friday or Saturday night: Remember Title IX equals respect.

    This is something that I put the number one -- I think there's an article this summer, number one is domestic violence - sexual assault. Number two is this opioid issue that we're all dealing with.

    Number three is the mental health of a student-athlete. This is something that 10 years ago -- now we have a full-time sports psychologist because that's how serious we take that. And then concussions.

    Those are the four pillars that I've told our staff, constant, constant awareness. We try to go outside -- we have a very good relationship with our Title IX office here on campus.

    I'm constantly -- I would say two months ago Ryan Stanford [phonetic] and I went over and met with Dr. J, Vice President of Student Affairs, and for no other reason, just: How are we doing? What can we do better? What's out there? We can keep educating our players about the respect for women; that's such a serious issue right now.

    And so it's endless as far as working on. I made a mistake -- not in domestic violence. Where I made my mistake is not asking enough questions, I believe, and complete reliance on law enforcement.

    When you hear "no charge," "no arrest," how far can you go? And Gene and I talked about that. Many colleagues and I have talked about that. What's the next step when you say there's no arrest or no charge? What do you do next?

    And one thing that's been made clear all along the journey is you can't go out and investigate; you're not allowed to. That's not something that's part of -- but you can ask questions. And I think the other thing is red flags. Those are the things.

    Q. And you addressed all these matters (indiscernible): The text messages, not informing Ohio State about it, what happens after 2009. However you want to characterize what was said in Chicago. It's the collection of those things together, right, that adds up sometimes, even when you have (indiscernible) -- that add up. For Ohio State administrators, for fans of Ohio State, why should they believe you're a trustworthy person?

    Meyer: That's also a very difficult -- for six and a half years here, until July of 2018, since we came back to Ohio State, we've taken -- the academic performance, it's been elite. Football performance has been very good.

    Life after football -- Real Life Wednesdays we started has taken on a world of its own -- about development of players, getting them ready for life after football.

    The honesty and integrity of our program has been very good. Evaluations every year with the president, with Gene Smith, have been very, very positive.

    This is a window of time that I made an error. But once again that's what I'm hoping -- and I'll keep saying it, really, for the rest of my life -- this was about trying to help a troubled employee with work-related issues. It was not about lying to the media.

    And once again, if someone in this room says you lied to you, I'm telling you I did not lie. I misspoke. And I hope you can understand why, where my focus was on that day. And if someone tells me that it's a felony arrest, that's my focus. But there's not one. I don't know why this came up, there was no felony arrest. But what about this? What about this? And I didn't listen closely.

    So that part I'm hoping people will understand about. The understanding about -- that I deleted messages. I didn't do it. In fact, the university found I didn't do it. The university is even aware that the IT guy changed my phone months before, just because my volume was filled.

    So I'm hoping that people listen. And I can only say the truth. I can only let you know. I'd like to say over 30 years that I -- I have been accused of helping players too much, giving them too many opportunities. That's an accusation I accept. And I'm very careful about that.

    But I also -- I've been that way my entire life, even outside of football. When I see someone in need, you help the person in need. How far do you go? That's that fine line.

    I had -- I counted at least three staff members over the 17 years that have been in difficult situations that I've tried to help and never fired anybody. I always take the approach of trying to help them. I'm hoping that comes out.

    I understand that this will take time. Maybe never. But that's my job in a press conference like this, and really in relationships with you and recruits and administrators. I know our president now is very comfortable with the situation. We've had many, many conversations, and I know our athletic director is.

    Q. Just in general, you made it clear that you went too far to help Zach with these issues. It does seem like you're in control of this football program, this football building. That's how it works; you're the football coach, you're in charge of everything. Should there be more oversight in the athletic department to make sure that you're not doing too much with a certain issue, to make sure that they're informed all along the way? I know you have a personal relationship with Gene. But is it possible that a football coach can have too much power in a building to make unilateral decisions?

    Meyer: Absolutely.

    Q. And what can Ohio State do better going forward to make sure something like this doesn't happen again with a staff member?

    Meyer: Absolutely. That's always been a concern of mine. That's why, when I was hired at Ohio State I asked to have a full-time compliance officer in this building. There never was one. I wanted a guy here so they could -- you know, for me to be in charge of the progress was very serious.

    I wanted to make sure doors were open, and I don't ever want have someone coming to me saying, Coach, you're violating rules. And that was my request. Whenever within minutes I hear of a situation, I contact Gene Smith and make sure because I'm not qualified sometimes to handle these situations. I need help with this. I'm a football coach. I'm not an investigator. I need help with this.

    On campus, I've asked for much help. I mentioned Dr. J, who is a very good friend, and she's very good at her job. I asked for help. I asked for help for a Title IX liaison, Title IX coordinator. We're not Title IX people. Help us with this situation. What can we do better?

    And that's what I was hoping was going to either come out or be involved in this investigation, is that other than this window of time, which was very serious, the marks are all over the top. And I was hoping more would come out. I haven't heard much. I invite you to go ask is how does the Ohio State coaching staff respond to any type of Title IX issues, any respect for women issues, any legal issues. I would be surprised to say as good as any school in the country.

    And that's the response back I get from my superiors. Because I don't handle things. What I do is I seek advice on this. Because I've been asked many, many times how would you handle the situation differently.

    I'm here to tell you, three years later, six weeks after going through this, I need help. You know, a football coach, I've talked to many coaches about this, you know, you need to go investigate this yourself, bring everybody in and talk to everybody involved? No, absolutely not. I'm not going to do that.

    There needs to be a channel. Does Ohio State -- yeah, we're looking at everything. I think it's a topic that every school in the country is going through.

    There's well-documented issues that have gone on in the last five, six years. 20 years ago, you never heard much about them. It's a completely different animal.

    And I agree with it. It's such a fine line. But I do seek advice. That's how it is -- those who probably know me a little bit, but those who know me, and my superiors, instantaneous, elevate it, instantaneous, need help; help me out and handle this situation. Not football-related. Any off-the-field things.

    Q. Along those lines, there's been made discussion about how much a head coach should have to know, delving into personal issues. Where do you stand on that? You've said everything is under your purview, you see that as fair and is that just the way it is?

    Meyer: I think that at high-profile football programs that's the way it is. Do I think it's fair? No one forced me to be a head coach. I think what goes on in people's homes is very difficult. There's some things brought up throughout this facility that Zach did that I'm completely unaware of.

    What's your responsibility to know that? That's why I want to create -- if someone knows something, I need them to come back. And I'm asked a lot, and the people I've talked to in this facility, they were not aware of some of these salacious accusations that were taking place, they were not aware.

    And so that's -- I actually spoke to a friend of mine in corporate America, that's everyone's nightmare is that you're representing a very proud company, institution, you're responsible for hundreds of people, how much can you really know? The answer is you have to know.

    Q. I know that domestic violence, obviously, is a very sensitive issue. And part of the sensitivity is you get into a he said/she said situation. Through this time, the last 10 years or whatever, have you found yourself wondering about the credibility of Courtney and Zach, is that part of the challenge?

    Meyer: I tried to stay away from that because I know -- I did ask Zach -- or no, I stressed it, I said, "You're fired, like within seconds, if I find out it's domestic violence."

    People have asked me why didn't I reach out to Courtney and ask her. I'm not allowed. I'm not allowed; there's an investigation going on.

    We are still in conversation, Gene and I, and other people, like I said, when that comes across the table, there's experts, there's professionals, there's law enforcement: Please help us with this; you have the right to go investigate the situation, report back to us, and we respond, and there's never a charge, never an arrest, how do I respond? And I want to once again say that what I have learned is ask more questions.

    Q. How much better can this offense get?

    Meyer: A lot better. Two very good running backs. We can get a lot better.

    Q. You mentioned stuff you learned about Zach. (Inaudible) and visibility, can you explain why that was?

    Meyer: In 2001 was personal work-related issues. He did [phonetic] get a raise one year, I believe that was the year. But I did discuss it with him. And once again, it was related to being late to a handful of meetings and other personal issues. It was about an eight-month window. That was on there.

    Q. You did say (inaudible) you hadn't talked to Courtney. What would you say to her?

    Meyer: I've said it several times. And I do want to say this that there was a press conference the day that I found out I was suspended. And I was in a room for about 12 hours straight.

    The investigation as I recall was just concluded. I sat in my house, I stared at walls for two weeks. And it was awful. And I was exhausted and obviously very emotional, because I was just suspended or being suspended. And I walk into a press conference and the cameras are going, and I start getting rapid-fire questions at me. And I did not do well, again, at that scenario.

    I came out there a couple days later and said I'm very sorry. And I'm saying this again right now, I'm very sorry.

    No two children and a wife, family, should go through this, especially when this started becoming a media storm about these just these activities that were going on and families chiming in and accusing families of things against each other. And no family should ever have to go through that.

    Q. When you talked about that period of reflection that you had and the chance to maybe learn some lessons, now that you are at this point, what is it that you think you learned? What will change? What did you get out of it on your side?

    Meyer: I think, once again, and I've had this question to me about a student-athlete, and when I try to help a guy, try to help a guy -- and what doesn't get reported are the great stories, the positive results, guys' lives change and they get these opportunities that playing college football and an education will give you.

    Same thing about helping a staff member through a very terrible divorce or when there's young children involved. This was a scenario that there were so many other outside forces coming in on both sides and families on both sides and this behavior that was going on that we were unaware of.

    I learned a lesson, and that's how far do you go to try to help someone out. To be honest, to this day, right now, I struggle with that. Because I've always gone on trying to go help someone who, especially the people in difficult situations -- we have these family nights. I see children, beautiful kids. I see them around the office, I would say, once a week. And that's throughout the whole year. I encourage our families to be around here. I've seen Courtney many, many times over the years.

    And I start to see these families, and part of the obligation of a leader, especially the way we do it here, is you're obligated to that: Do the right things, to follow the rules, to perform on the field so people don't lose jobs and families get uprooted.

    And that's the way my mind works. When I saw this situation, and once domestic violence was taken out of the equation, my mindset was how do you help stabilize this situation.

    That man has an obligation to raise those kids. He has an obligation to support that family: How can I help? How can Gene help do that?

    We made a decision, and for many people out there that think that was a very wrong decision -- I look back now with all the other decisions together, it was the wrong decision. But what I knew at the time, I can tell you I thought we were doing the right thing at the time.


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    Rodney Hood took the Cavs' one-year deal with the full intention of earning a much more lucrative contract from them next summer when he'll be an unrestricted free agent. Watch video

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Rodney Hood would like to re-introduce himself to Cleveland.

    Why? Because he plans on staying here a while.

    Hood accepted the Cavs' one-year, $3.4 million qualifying offer on Sept. 9, following a summer of not getting the money he wanted in a contract from either Cleveland or the eight teams he said expressed interest.

    All of that followed a disastrous 2018 playoff run for Hood personally, who plummeted from coach Tyronn Lue's starting lineup to out of the rotation all together while the Cavs made it to the Finals -- which probably did damage to Hood's market value.

    Hood's gained clarity and muscle mass since (he's added seven pounds of it and now weighs more than 220 lbs). He understands the Cavs' chances to surprise the NBA and hang on as a playoff team without LeBron James hinges in no small part on whether Hood is the player the Cavs thought they traded for on Feb. 8, or the one whose plus-minus was the worst of any player in the playoffs.

    So Hood took the Cavs' one-year deal with the full intention of earning a much more lucrative contract from them next summer when he'll be an unrestricted free agent.

    "I believe strongly in myself that after this year I'll be able to make Cleveland my home and we'll get a better deal next summer," Hood told cleveland.com Monday in a wide-ranging interview.

    Meet Hood, Cleveland

    As a Cavs fan, there are all kinds of things you remember about Hood. Some of them are not flattering. We'll get to those in a minute.

    Maybe you didn't know, or had forgotten, that Hood is only 25. He's 6-8 and left handed (OK, you knew that), with career averages of 13 points and three rebounds over four seasons. The Jazz drafted him 23rd overall out of Duke in 2014. He played one season for the Blue Devils, after transferring from Mississippi State following his freshman year.

    Hood is the youngest of three children from a basketball-crazy family in Meridian, Miss., a small community on the Alabama border.

    Hood's parents (Rick and Vicky) both played college basketball at Mississippi State. His brother Rick Jr. and sister Whitney both played at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Rick Jr. runs an AAU program (ages 10-18) in Mississippi that's funded by Rodney (to the tune of about $160,000 per season).

    And of course there's, Hood's wife, Richa Jackson, who played four seasons at Duke, while Hood was there. Like Hood's parents at Mississippi State, Hood and Jackson met on Duke's campus as college hoopsters.

    Hood's father is chief executive officer for Boys & Girls Club of East Mississippi. To that end, Hood, Rick Jr., and Hood's agent Travis King are in Cleveland this week looking for an inner city high school basketball program to adopt, and for a Boys & Girls Club to partner with for holiday charities like turkey and clothing drops.

    They'd like to make it an annual thing.

    "Just because he signed the qualifying offer, he's not on the first train out of here," King said. "He plans to stay in Cleveland."

    What went wrong?

    The Rodney Hood the Cavs hoped they acquired when they shipped Jae Crowder to the Utah Jazz as part of a three-team deal at last season's trade deadline is the one who statistically was enjoying the finest of his four pro seasons (16.8 ppg) before the trade.

    When the playoffs arrived, Hood blew out two tires and dragged his muffler along the pavement. He averaged 5.4 points, shot .167 from 3, and posted that plus-minus of minus-93.

    Again, nobody was worse. Along the way, he refused a request from Lue to take the floor at the end of a blowout of Toronto in Game 4 of the conference semifinals. As if things weren't bad enough, with Hood having played his way out of the rotation, he was now embarrassed.

    With the Cavs gasping for air in the Finals and the Warriors tightening their grip, Lue turned back to Hood for Games 3 and 4 and he fared better.

    That's what happened to Hood on the court. Off of it, in addition to the trade, his wife was pregnant with twins. She gave birth on the morning of Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs.

    Son Rich and daughter Riley had some nerve, refusing to sleep through the night while dad was trying to help the Cavs beat the Pacers.

    There was also the matter of playing alongside LeBron, in what turned out to be his last year in Cleveland, with his Finals streak on the line. Losses were magnified. Wins were expected. Every shot was either taken by LeBron or facilitated through him, or so it seemed.

    Hood doesn't use those items as excuses, exactly. It's just, well, that's what was happening around him while he was dealing with the worst stretch of his pro career.

    "It was a lot of stuff going on where I just couldn't really focus, until the time where I really wasn't playing," Hood said. "And then I was able to lock in and get to myself.

    "At first I kind of felt bad for myself, but then it was like I don't want to feel this feeling again, sitting on the bench, or playing 8-10 minutes a game," he continued. "I want to be a big part of a really good team, so that was my focus this whole summer."

    Summer fun

    The other summer focus for Hood was his restricted free agency. King listed the clubs that showed interest in Hood (including three playoff teams) and said there were offers, but they were in the $5.3 million to $8 million range, depending on the team's cap situation.

    Hood was looking for a deal in the $10 million to $12 million range. The Cavs weren't going to go there, either, but they offered him a multiyear deal for about $7 million per season, sources said.

    With LeBron gone, Hood is going to be the Cavs' second scoring option behind Kevin Love. They see Hood as a shooting guard with Cedi Osman slated to play the small forward spot. Lue has told him the Cavs will play faster (Lue always says that, but with LeBron gone they just may do it now), and Hood will get a chance to be himself on the court.

    Hood understands the basketball opportunity he has in front of him -- there's money to be made by anyone who can help fill the 28 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists LeBron took with him to the Lakers.  

    Hood said he wasn't "comfortable" with what the Cavs were offering, and he correctly noted the NBA's salary cap is expected to rise from $101 million this season to $109 million next -- so there will be more teams with more money to offer him next year.

    But to hear him tell it, he wants the Cavs to be the team cutting his checks.

    "My twins were born here," he said. "I like the community, even though I haven't been out there a lot. I want to make this a home. It's just didn't happen this summer. That's how I look at it."


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    Urban Meyer spoke Monday about his suspension and what impact it might have on Ohio State football.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State football lost one verbal commitment during the time Urban Meyer was first on leave and then suspended. That created a sense that the Buckeyes had successfully navigated an uncertain time with the head coach's future hanging in the balance.

    Meyer admitted Monday, though, that it would be naive to assume that the program still hasn't taken a hit, even with the coach now back in a full capacity.

    "I think there was (damage)." Meyer said Monday as part of his first news conference since returning from the three-game suspension that was handed down by the university on Aug. 22.

    "I think this is -- hopefully this (helps) -- I've already had conversations with recruits and families of our players. We sent out several letters to the families. But to say there's not damage, there was."

    Meyer touched on a lot of topics on Monday relating to his suspension, why he handled things the way he did and what impact that could have on the program. We're breaking that up to more easily digest all of the information. Here we're talking about impact on the football program.

    Meyer's news conference on Monday wasn't only about sending a message to recruits. That's just a piece of it, and a small one. Monday was mostly about setting the record straight from he feels were improper characterizations during the investigation and the ensuing suspension, and making up for public relations blunders by both Meyer and the university.

    But gaining back any perceived lost ground in the push to be the best program in the country was also a consideration.

    When it comes to attracting players to come play for him, and coaches to come work for him, Meyer didn't back away from the idea that it could now become more challenging to do both.

    The coaching part could be a little easier. Ohio State is a university with infinite resources that's now playing the million-dollar assistant coach game, and Meyer isn't shy about his program being a training ground for soon-to-be head coaches. That plays, and money talks.

    Don't worry too much about Meyer's ability to attract strong candidates to fill out his staff, even if OSU is in this mess because of how one assistant coach who was a bad actor was mishandled by the head coach and athletic director. Ohio State's hiring practices for coaches will and should get a review, but it will remain an attractive destination all the same.

    Players, though, could be a different story.

    That's not to get doom and gloom about the future of the program, but Meyer admitted on Monday that part of the reason for taking questions head on the way he did was because he didn't want any more false characterizations out there for anyone to consume. Anyone being fans, media, colleagues, his team, his coaches and perhaps most importantly, prospective players.

    "I'm hoping that the clarity of the damage is that why I was suspended and what the report came back, and that I was not lying to the media. I was not lying to people, or that I turned -- I or we turned our back to domestic violence," he said. "And I'm going to do the best I can. If we can remove those two, which is the truth, the damage, I believe, is that we just went through a really hard time and I made a mistake in helping a troubled employee, went too far trying to help someone that had some work-related issues."

    The lone recruiting loss in all of this, four-star 2019 linebacker Kane Patterson, admitted that Meyer's status and the investigation had a hand in his decommittment. It also mattered that he got a dream offer from Clemson, and he's since committed to the Tigers.

    However, the Buckeyes kept the 14 other commitments in 2019 and all six commitments from a 2020 class that will challenge for No. 1 in the country when it signs. This week, for Meyer's return, the Buckeyes will host five-star defensive end Bryan Bresee -- the No. 1 player in the 2020 class.

    "There's a lot of people who use this to look at Ohio State, and hate it more than they already did," five-star 2019 receiver commit Garrett Wilson told cleveland.com earlier this month. "With me I'd say that it probably could change the outlook of the program, but hopefully we can get the kids that look past that and really want to be a part of the program."

    Part of Meyer's message on Monday was that this episode has done nothing to change his future with the program or negatively impact his feelings toward Ohio State, which could in turn affect his longevity in Columbus.

    Monitoring the visits from here out will be interesting. So will monitoring whether Meyer attacks recruiting with the same vigor he always has.

    When we're talking about the long-term vision for the program, we're talking first about talent.

    There's damage control to be done from that perspective. Meyer's message on Monday was just the latest step among others that have happened behind the scenes to make sure Ohio State doesn't lose ground in that race.

    "I understand that this will take time. Maybe never," Meyer said. "But that's my job in a press conference like this, and really in relationships with you and recruits and administrators. I know our president now is very comfortable with the situation. We've had many, many conversations, and I know our athletic director is."


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    Meyer offered what seemed to be sincere words on Monday. Now, with the power of Ohio State football behind him, he can take action.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- What's next?

    It's the last question for Urban Meyer, and the one that matters for Ohio State's football coach, who is fully back at work, not fired, his suspension served, his reputation and football program affected, his team winning.

    Meyer answered 36 questions Monday, 56 days after former receivers coach Zach Smith was fired, 26 days after Meyer was suspended for three games. Opinions had hardened previously, so maybe no minds were changed.

    Meyer would hope some were.

    Repeatedly stating that he was suspended by Ohio State for mishandling Zach Smith, not over any idea of ignoring a domestic violence charge, and repeatedly stating how the notion of violence toward women is intolerable to him, Meyer cared what he said, cared what was heard, and cared what you thought.

    This was not a "Whatever, let me get this out of the way and let's go beat Tulane," kind of news conference.

    But, as has been the case all along, words only go so far.

    Actions matter.

    So here are some suggestions for what can happen next for Meyer, based on what he said Monday, what he did and didn't do in handling Zach Smith, what the Ohio State football program, athletic department and university should demand of him, and what the broader community in Columbus and in Ohio could use from one of its most prominent citizens.

    First, though, here's a final synopsis of my understanding and beliefs about what happened with Meyer, Zach Smith, Courtney Smith and everything with this issue now that Meyer had his say.

    1. Meyer mishandled Zach Smith and gave him too many chances. It was a mistake of leadership, and Meyer admits he should have fired Smith previously.

    2. Meyer would have fired Zach Smith if Smith had ever been charged with a domestic violence crime. He says that, and he's believable when he says it.

    3. Meyer was Zach Smith's employer, and while domestic violence should be a community issue, the employer of the alleged abuser is not the primary problem solver for an alleged victim. The police, family and friends all enter the picture first. While firing Zach Smith earlier would have separated Ohio State from a problem employee, it would not have necessarily solved the underlying abuse allegations.

    4. There was confusion around this particular domestic situation. While charges often aren't filed in these cases, for the employer of the alleged abuser, the lack of charges certainly is part of the equation in making a decision. Meyer presented Monday a timeline of monitoring Zach Smith's case with the police in 2015 in a way that shows concern with the issue, even if it wasn't handled ideally by Ohio State.

    5. If you believe Meyer erred in this situation, as he says he did, what should be the ramifications? Should he have been fired for not firing someone else? Because at some point, a discussion must include actions. Not just words.

    Here now are suggestions on actions:

    * Make Ohio State football a leader in the community in helping domestic violence victims: Some would possibly see a move like this as disingenuous, but if good is done, don't worry about how people view your motives. A generous financial donation from a coach making more than $7 million a year would be a great start, but back it up with action.

    Asked Monday for concrete examples of treating domestic violence seriously, Meyer spoke of the lessons taught to football players, with messages of respect toward women brought up weekly, according to Meyer. That's valuable.

    But turn this outward into the community instead of inward. Use the power of Ohio State and Ohio State football to make a difference in the lives of battered women in Ohio. Roll up your sleeves and improve shelters. Spend time with women and children who have been abused. Do public service announcements. Make one Saturday a season about domestic violence awareness.

    Ohio State football players and staffers already visit schools and hospitals. Add this cause to the top of the list, and make it clear that the powerful Ohio State football program is in the business of reaching out and helping vulnerable women.

    It's obvious that Meyer in this case had trouble deciphering exactly what he believed and what would be the correct way to address the domestic abuse allegations. He's been criticized, and will continue to be met with accusations that he doesn't believe Courtney Smith. That's not going to change.

    "I'm saying this again right now, I'm very sorry," Meyer said. "No two children and a wife, family, should go through this."

    Go beyond this one situation. Take what you say you believe and help scores of other women.

    * Curb Meyer's power: College football coaches are often the most influential members of a university community, and at the very least are the highest-paid. But Meyer had too much say in dealing with Zach Smith, even rejecting a Gene Smith suggestion to fire Zach Smith after the 2015 season.

    He agreed with the idea of a college football coach having too much power.

    "Absolutely, that's always been a concern of mine," Meyer said.

    He said that's why there's a compliance officer in the football building, to deal with any issues around NCAA rules. Meyer also ticked off examples of him immediately taking issues to Gene Smith or the human resources department.

    But don't leave rely on Meyer bringing problems to others. Get the athletic department more involved in knowing more about what's happening daily at the football building. Maybe Meyer would welcome that. Maybe not. But something like an assistant AD on premises every day may catch the next Zach Smith problem earlier.

    Meyer said he needs to do a better job of creating an atmosphere where people can bring problems to him, especially during the season. He said he's talked about that with Gene Smith.

    "I always thought I had that atmosphere," Meyer said. "If someone was aware of somebody's behaviors and did not bring it to my attention, I obviously have to work on that, and I have."

    To be honest, during the fall, Meyer is concerned first with winning football games. That's what he was hired for. Everyone else in the building, save for compliance, reports to Meyer. Get a powerful administrator in there that doesn't report to Meyer and can oversee daily issues while Meyer is winning games.

    * Regain trust: Meyer said Monday that what he said at Big Ten Media Days were misstatements and not lies and that he never deleted text messages, though the investigation commissioned by Ohio State found that Meyer discussed that idea with staffer Brian Voltolini.

    "There was never a deleted message," Meyer said.

    He said the conversation with Voltilini went like this, "I don't worry about my phone. There's nothing to hide on my phone," and that an IT staffer had previously changed his phone to delete messages after a year to clear storage.

    Meyer did admit he should have told Gene Smith about the domestic abuse allegations against Zach Smith at Florida in 2009, and that omission is still problematic considering how often Meyer extols the closeness of his relationship with Gene Smith.

    So that's two explanations and an admitted mistake, and that all goes to a question for the future.

    Can Meyer be trusted by OSU administrators, players, staffers and fans?

    "That's also a very difficult ..." Meyer began, before listing accomplishments in player academics and leadership programs. "The honesty and integrity of our program has been very good. Evaluations every year with the president, with Gene Smith, have been very, very positive.

    "This is a window of time that I made an error. But once again that's what I'm hoping -- and I'll keep saying it, really, for the rest of my life -- this was about trying to help a troubled employee with work-related issues. It was not about lying to the media.

    "So I'm hoping that people listen. And I can only say the truth. I can only let you know. I'd like to say over 30 years that I have been accused of helping players too much, giving them too many opportunities. That's an accusation I accept. And I'm very careful about that.

    "But I also -- I've been that way my entire life, even outside of football. When I see someone in need, you help the person in need. How far do you go? That's that fine line.

    "I counted at least three staff members over the 17 years that have been in difficult situations that I've tried to help and never fired anybody. I always take the approach of trying to help them. I'm hoping that comes out.

    "I understand that this will take time. Maybe never. But that's my job in a press conference like this, and really in relationships with you and recruits and administrators. I know our president now is very comfortable with the situation. We've had many, many conversations, and I know our athletic director is."

    Trust, that will be the most difficult for Meyer to take action on, because he can't do it himself. He must act, and then hope others do trust him.

    So many believe Meyer made mistakes. Meyer admitted he made mistakes.

    Monday, he spoke in a way that said he wanted to do better, vowing next time to ask more questions in a situation like this, to lean on law enforcement but to educate himself more thoroughly on the circumstances. He seemed sincere.

    In regards to domestic violence, Meyer said, "To say have I learned, I learned a great deal."

    Monday, Meyer offered words. Now, he can take action.

    Given what we know, Meyer back at work Monday was a reasonable conclusion to this.

    It's not time to move on. It's time to do better.


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    See what Meyer said about his relationship with Ohio State following his suspension from the university. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer tells the same story every year about being a child in Ashtabula and listening to an Ohio State-Michigan game over the loudspeakers at an outdoor mall, how reluctant he was to leave his spot in front of the TV to go shopping with his mother, and how much that game means to him.

    It's a memory that's stuck with him for nearly 50 years, one of his favorite rivalry stories that he shares each time the last Saturday in November rolls around.

    It would take a lot to shake the relationship Meyer has with Ohio State.

    Yet some wondered if the suspension the university handed him on Aug. 22 for his mishandling of former assistant coach Zach Smith was enough to break the bond. They wondered if Meyer felt unsupported by the university he loved, and if that could have an impact on how long he sticks around.

    Meyer addressed that on Monday in his first news conference since his suspension ended.

    "I have a great relationship with our president, (with athletic director) Gene Smith. I'm as close to Gene Smith as anybody," Meyer said. "And this to me has never been a job. You know, when I took a year off, I wasn't planning on coming back coaching football. I was asked by Gene and the president at the time, Ohio State was going through a hard time. Part of my family didn't want me to coach again. And I came back because of my sincere love for the state. I grew up here. I played high school football here. Played college football here. I love this school. I have a master's degree from Ohio State. My love is unwavering for Ohio State. Even more so now."

    Meyer touched on a lot of topics on Monday relating to his suspension, why he handled things the way he did and what impact that could have on the program. We're breaking that up to more easily digest all of the information. Here we're talking about Meyer's relationship with Ohio State and how that might impact his future.

    * Did Urban Meyer damage Ohio State's football program and recruiting?

    Meyer is under contract until 2023 after signing an extension last spring that will pay him $7.6 million this season. He sounded on Monday like a man who intended to see that through.

    Plans change of course, but Meyer didn't seem eager to end his run at Ohio State after this season because of what's transpired over the last month.

    There are, perhaps, health concerns when considering Meyer's future. Both those that contributed to the end of his tenure at Florida and others he admitted to on Monday when asked about a part of the university's independent investigative report that detailed Meyer taking medication that can at times affect his memory.

    "I'm very healthy," he said. "I've had cyst issues in my head over the years. And I've had a couple of procedures and actually one surgery, also very intense medicine -- I'm telling you, this report was so thorough and so transparent ... And so when questions came up about some of the conversations, for example, exact conversations back in 2015 or back before that and I didn't have great recollection of it, to they would ask: Have you had any of this? Have you had this? What about this? It was very transparent and very personalized. But I'm very healthy."

    Meyer added that, because of those issues, he's taken some "heavy meds" at times, but that it "doesn't impact the way I coach."

    Cleveland.com reported earlier this month that characterizations of Meyer being combative with the board of trustees during its deliberations on Meyer's future on Aug. 22 weren't true, according to people who were in the room.

    Meyer maintains that his relationship with Gene Smith is as strong as it's ever been. He said he's had multiple conversations with university president Michael Drake, and that he's "very comfortable with the situation."

    "My love of players, my love of development of players, my love of team, my love of the university has never been challenged," Meyer said.


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    This postseason could be the last go-around for several Indians' veterans who are on the verge of free agency.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Michael Brantley was talking to a group of reporters Saturday evening in the Indians' locker room after they'd clinched the AL Central Division with a 15-0 win over the Tigers.

    Josh Tomlin snuck up behind him and poured a whole can of cold beer over his head. Brantley didn't move or jump or look surprised. He just smiled as the foam and beer spilled over his head and said, "I love it. I'm savoring every moment of this. This never gets old to me."

    The Indians have won three straight AL Central championships. They've had six straight winning seasons and made four trips to the postseason. Their deepest run ended in a Game 7 loss to the Cubs in the 2016 World Series.

    No matter, this is a new year and a new opportunity. But for the core of the Indians, the rookies who have become veterans seemingly overnight, it could be their last time in the postseason together.

    Said homegrown closer Cody Allen, "This could be my last year here. It could be a lot of guys' last year here. You don't take this for granted. The city of Cleveland and this organization will, no matter what happens, hold a special place in all of our hearts. We just enjoy it now and get ready for tomorrow when we get there."

    Allen, Brantley, Tomlin, Andrew Miller, Lonnie Chisenhall and Rajai Davis will be free agents at the end of the season. So will Josh Donaldson, Melky Cabrera and Oliver Perez. Jason Kipnis is signed through 2019, with a club option for 2020, but there is no guarantee he'll be back.

    In 2013, Terry Francona's first year as manager, the Indians won a wild card spot, but lost to Tampa Bay, 4-0. In 2016, they won the division and the AL pennant, but couldn't convert a 3-1 lead into the organization's first World Series championship since 1948. Last year they won 102 games in the regular season, but lost to the wild-card Yankees in the ALDS after taking a 2-0 lead.

    "All you can ask for is one chance, one moment, and make sure you embrace it," said Brantley. "That we play as a team, that we got out there and enjoy it, and make sure we go out there and handle our business."

    After Saturday's victory, before the champagne and beer started flowing, Edwin Encarnacion told his teammates to celebrate, but to remember that this was just the first step in a four-step process - win the division, win the ALDS, win the ALCS and win the World Series. There is still a long way to go.

    "I love what Eddy said," said Allen. "This is kind of the first step. We have our sights set on something bigger. We've earned our right to play in October, which is not to be taken lightly. We want to play a lot of baseball."

    The Indians drafted Tomlin in 2006 and Chisenhall and Roberto Perez in 2008. They traded for Brantley in 2008, drafted Kipnis and signed Jose Ramirez as a free agent in 2009. They traded for Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber in 2009 and 2010, respectively. They drafted Francisco Lindor and Allen in 2011 and traded for Trevor Bauer and Yan Gomes in 2012.

    "There are a lot of guys on this team who have been very fortunate to be together for a long time," said Allen. "There are a lot of homegrown guys here, a lot of guys who have come up in the minor leagues together. Everybody that's come on board since Tito's first year in 2013 has just supplemented everything that Tito and Chris (Antonetti) have put into place. So to do this with this group is very special."

    Kipnis said there hasn't been a lot of talk about this being the last rodeo for so many players. It was more a topic of conversation in spring training.

    "It hasn't been talked about as much, but amongst us, within that group, more or less this might be our last hurrah," said Kipnis. "There are a bunch of guys who are not going to be here next year with free agency and all that stuff. There's no guarantee myself, that I'll be around next year.

    "We don't take it for granted the time that we've had to play together and to help turn this organization around, which was our goal years ago. To win three division titles in a row is exciting."

    The Indians, the first team to clinch a division title this year, have 13 games left in the regular season. They will not go to waste for a team that still has many questions to answer. How will Kipnis continue to adjust to center field? Will Bauer make it back in time to help the rotation or bullpen as he recovers from a stress fracture in his right leg? Will the Indians use a three- or four-man rotation in the ALDS?

    "If you ask the people that are still in division races, they'd rather be in our place than not," said Kipnis. "You can rest guys. You can line up your starting rotation. There is a bunch of advantages of clinching early. You might not have the adrenaline rush of a tight division race, but you do have time to get yourself organized."

    Not to mention enjoying the moment, no matter how long it lasts.


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    Corey Kluber recorded his 200th strikeout on Tuesday against Chicago. It gave Kluber five straight seasons with at least that many whiffs.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber reached the 200-strikeout mark for the fifth time in his career when he retired Chicago's Ryan LaMarre on three pitches in the fifth inning Tuesday at Progressive Field.

    Kluber matched Bob Feller with five 200-strikeout seasons, one behind franchise leader Sam McDowell (six). He joined teammates Trevor Bauer (214) and Carlos Carrasco (206) in the 200-strikeout club this season.

    Mike Clevinger (196) could make the Indians the first team in major league history with four 200-strikeout pitchers in the same season in his next start. The 2013 Tigers, 1969 Astros and 1967 Twins are the only teams with three pitchers to reach that mark.

    Kluber has punched out at least 200 each season since 2014. It's the second-longest such run in club history behind McDowell's six from 1965-1970. This year, Kluber has five games with double-digit strikeouts, including a 13-strikeout performance April 9 against Detroit.

    Kluber's career-high is 269 strikeouts in his AL Cy Young Award-winning season of 2014. He struck out 265 in winning the award for a second time last year.


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    The former five-star prospect has appeared in two games this season.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Freshman offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere has been listed on the depth chart for every game this year, and even appeared in two of them, but it wasn't until Tuesday that he became an official member of the Ohio State football team. 

    Petit-Frere lost the black stripe from his helmet after Tuesday's practice, making him the latest Buckeye freshman to go through the right of passage that signifies him becoming a full member of the team. 

    The former five-star prospect and No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2018 recruiting class appeared in OSU's first two games this season against Oregon State and Rutgers. He's been listed on the depth chart as the No. 2 right tackle behind three-year starter Isaiah Prince since the start of the season. 

    Walk-on offensive lineman and St. Ignatius product Jack Jamieson also lost his black stripe on Tuesday. 


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    Corey Kluber picked up his career-high 19th win as he struck out 11 Chicago White Sox batters in a 5-3 Cleveland Indians win.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Corey Kluber reached the 19-win mark for the first time in his career as he struck out 11 Chicago White Sox batters in leading the Cleveland Indians to a 5-3 victory at Progressive Field.

    Kluber  (19-6, 2.93) had won 18 games in each of the last three seasons and four of the last five. Tuesday's career-high marks the most wins in a single season by a Tribe starter since Cliff Lee won 22 in his Cy Young campaign of 2008. Kluber is the first Cleveland right-hander to win 19 games since Roberto Hernandez (aka Fausto Carmona) did so in 2007.

    The occasion allowed manager Terry Francona to recall his impression of Kluber five years ago when the righty won his first AL Cy Young Award. 

    "I remember the one thing I said was, 'he hasn't done it over and over yet,' because he was young," Francona said. "Now, he's done it over and over and over, and it's every bit as impressive."

    But the victory wasn't Kluber's only accomplishment Tuesday. His fifth-inning strikeout of Chicago's Ryan LaMarre was his 200th of the season, making Kluber the first Indians pitcher since Sam McDowell (1965-70) to record five consecutive years with 200 or more strikeouts. Bob Feller had four straight (1938-41) and five overall.

    Kluber's 11 strikeouts mark the sixth time this season he's reached double digits in punchouts and the 28th time an Indians starting pitcher has accomplished the feat, tying Houston for the MLB lead.

    The two-time Cy Young Award winner cruised through the first five innings before allowing solo home runs to Daniel Palka and Omar Narvaez in the sixth and an RBI double to Yolmer Sanchez in the seventh that cut Cleveland's lead to two runs.

    But with the tying run on base in the eighth, Kluber got LaMarre to ground out, ending a Chicago scoring threat. Andrew Miller worked the ninth inning for his second save.

    Kluber had not worked since a 55-pitch outing against Tampa Bay on Sept. 10, but did not hesitate to come back out for the eighth inning because the best way to stay locked in, he said, is to keep your foot on the gas.

    "It makes the most sense to still try to stay in that competitive frame of mind," Kluber said. "I don't want to go out there and feel like it's spring training or something like that, just because we've already clinched."

    Third baseman Josh Donaldson passed an early test when he scored all the way from first base on a double by Melky Cabrera in the second inning. Donaldson, who was activated a week ago from the disabled list after recovering from left calf strain, showed no signs of trouble as he raced around third while the ball got past LaMarre in the left field corner.

    Yan Gomes followed with an RBI base hit up the middle to give the Indians a 2-0 advantage against Chicago starter Carlos Rodon (6-6, 3.30).

    Jason Kipnis stretched the Tribe's lead to three with a leadoff solo home run to right against Rodon in the fifth before Yandy Diaz made it 5-0 with a two-run single to center.

    For Kipnis, it was his first home run against Rodon in 35 career at-bats and his fourth homer of the season against a lefty.

    "He got behind in the count 3-0, then the 3-1 pitch -- that's four fastballs in a row that I've seen from his release point," Kipnis said. "I just got a little bit in on it and put a good swing on it. He's tough. He gets better as the game goes on, too."

    What it means

    The Indians defeated the White Sox for the 11th time in 14 games this season. Cleveland is a perfect 7-0 against Chicago at Progressive Field, and has outscored the Sox 78-37 overall.

    The pitches

    Rodon threw 84 pitches, 47 (60 percent) for strikes. Kluber threw 107 pitches, 75 (70 percent) for strikes.

    Thanks for coming

    The Indians and White Sox drew 19,277 fans to Progressive Field. First pitch was at 7:11 p.m. with a temperature of 78 degrees.

    Next

    The series continues Wednesday as Chicago righty Dylan Covey (5-13, 5.64) faces Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco (16-8, 3.41) at 7:10 p.m. SportsTime Ohio, WTAM and WMMS will carry the game.

    Carrasco will be facing the White Sox for the third time this season. He is 2-0 and has allowed just one earned run in 14 innings against the South Siders this season.


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    In Tuesday's 5-3 win over the White Sox by the Indians, Andrew Miller and Josh Donaldson continued to sharpen their game for the postseason.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - When left-hander Andrew Miller came off the disabled list for the third time this season on Sept. 10, he said he wanted to pitch as much as possible to get ready for the postseason.

    His wish, to date, has been granted.

    Third baseman Josh Donaldson came off the disabled list the next day on Sept. 11. The Indians needed to get him ready for the postseason as well, but they had to show more caution with Donaldson because he hadn't played regularly since last May due to a left calf injury.

    In Tuesday night's 5-3 win over the White Sox at Progressive Field, the Indians saw progress from both players.

    Miller, making his fifth appearance since being activated, needed four outs to get through the ninth inning for his second save of the season, but when it was over manager Terry Francona was happy.

    "I thought it was his best outing yet," said Francona. "He had his best stuff. He had the strikeout that was kind of a wild pitch (passed ball) or whatever you call of it. So he had to pitch out trouble, but I thought by far it was his best stuff."

    Miller was throwing sliders at 83 mph to 84 mph and hit 97 mph with his fastball. He struck out Yoan Moncada to start the ninth. Then he struck out pinch-hitter Wellington Castillo, but he reached first when catcher Yan Gomes was charged with a passed ball on a darting pitch from Miller.

    Yolmer Sanchez went down swinging for the second out, but Tim Anderson sent a broken bat single into right field. Daniel Palka, who homered in the sixth, grounded out to third to end the game.

    "I am really fortunate that the team has taken care of business and we're in a situation where I can kind of use this to focus on me," said Miller, referring to the Indians clinching the AL Central on Saturday. "I can go out there and focus on taking these baby steps and being ready at the end of the year. So far the plan couldn't be any better."

    In five appearances, Miller has allowed two earned runs in five innings. He's struck out eight and allowed five hits.

    "My arm feels as good as it has felt in a long time and my (right) knee is something I'm not really thinking about, which is exactly what we wanted," said Miller. "The idea is to check a couple of boxes. I threw an inning plus the other day and was pretty efficient. I think back-to-back is in the cards whether that's tomorrow or at some point this week.

    "I don't think it really matters. We want to make sure we do all that stuff, but that's the least of my concerns. I'm just trying to get a little bit better each time out. Tonight was a real good step in understanding what I was trying to do and shake off those rusty aspects of what I'm fighting through."

    And there's nothing like the intensity spike of the ninth inning to sharpen one's focus.

    "I think it was good," said Miller. "It was a little kick of adrenaline. You don't want to mess it up. For me, as much fun as I've ever had, is closing out games. I love looking up at the scoreboard and looking at the lineup card and trying to get through that. You always want one, two, three scoreless innings, but working through those situations, for me, is a lot of fun and as good as it gets for a reliever."

    Donaldson made his fourth start at third base on Tuesday night. He walked twice and hit one ball hard, a line drive to the left fielder. But it was his walk in the second inning that represented a challenge that had to be met.

    He drew a four-pitch walk from Carlos Rodon with one out. Melky Cabrera, the next batter, doubled into the left field corner. Donaldson scored all the way from first with the thought of his calf injury bouncing around in the back of his brain as he circled the bases.

    "I felt good, I felt pretty smooth running," said Donaldson. "I don't want to say it's not there, but it's getting less there. The more that I'm able to do that in a game, and continue to feel good about it, it's just going to get better. I don't know if I'm going to get any faster, but I won't have to think about it that much."

    The Indians acquired Donaldson from Toronto on Aug. 31. He's a three-time All-Star and AL MVP in 2015. But he's played only 41 games this season because of shoulder and calf injuries.

    "When we saw him workout, we knew he'd worked really hard," said Francona, referring to Donaldson. "You just have to use common sense and not overdo it too quick. Everybody, myself included, wants to see him play. But I think we've managed it pretty well. Pretty soon we'll be able to turn him loose."


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    Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield playing waiting game as New York Jets QB Darnold starts third straight

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Thursday Night Football comes to town as the New York Jets 1-1 take on the Cleveland Browns 0-0-1. The Jets will be led by rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, who is starting for a third straight week and was drafted No. 3. Meanwhile the Browns' rookie QB, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, will be on the bench for the third straight week.

    The two teams illustrate two different ways of developing rookie QBs. The Jets have basically thrown Darnold into the deep end of the pool to see if he sinks or swims. So far, with the mentoring of veteran Josh McCown, Darnold seems to be swimming, with a QBR of 88.9 with three TD passes and three INTs.

    The Browns chose to indefinitely sit Mayfield so he could gradually learn the nuances of the pro game behind veteran Tyrod Taylor. The problem is the Browns are without a win and Taylor has a QBR of 70.1 with two TDs and two INTs.

    The Browns' approach with Mayfield is similar to the Kansas City Chiefs' plan for Patrick Mahomes. After sitting a year, Mahomes has a QBR of 143.3 with 10 TDs and no INTs through two games this season.

    Crowquill, by Plain Dealer artist Ted Crow, appears three times a week in The Plain Dealer and on cleveland.com.


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    Here's how the Buckeyes will line up in the non-conference finale on Saturday against Tulane.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State has some changes to its depth chart for this week's game against Tulane, all on the defensive side of the ball.

    With junior defensive end Nick Bosa out with an abdominal injury, Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper are listed alone as the starting ends. Davon Hamilton is now listed as a co-starter at one of the defensive tackle spots with Robert Landers. Landers, who appeared to have his left arm in a brace after Tuesday's practice, is "probable" to play Saturday.

    A change at middle linebacker has Tuf Borland back in his starting role. Baron Browning, the listed starter for the first three weeks, is on the second team. Borland started last week against TCU.

    * Ohio State vs. Tulane Depth Chart

    Ohio State and Tulane kick off on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network.

    Here is the Buckeyes' depth chart for this week:

    OFFENSE

    QB: Dwayne Haskins

    Tate Martell

    RB: J.K. Dobbins OR Mike Weber

    Brian Snead OR Master Teague

    WR: Austin Mack

    Binjimen Victor

    WR: Johnnie Dixon OR Terry McLaurin

    Chris Olave

    H-back: Parris Campbell

    K.J. Hill OR C.J. Saunders

    TE: Luke Farrell OR Rashod Berry

    Jeremy Ruckert OR Jake Hausmann

    LT: Thayer Munford

    Joshua Alabi

    LG: Malcolm Pridgeon

    Brady Taylor

    C: Michael Jordan

    Josh Myers OR Brady Taylor

    RG: Demetrius Knox

    Wyatt Davis

    RT: Isaiah Prince

    Nicholas Petit-Frere

    DEFENSE

    DE: Chase Young

    Tyreke Smith

    Tyler Friday

    DT: Robert Landers OR Davon Hamilton

    Tommy Togiai

    Jerron Cage

    DT: Dre'Mont Jones

    Haskell Garrett OR Taron Vincent

    DE: Jonathon Cooper

    Jashon Cornell

    LB: Malik Harrison

    Keandre Jones

    LB: Tuf Borland

    Baron Browning

    Justin Hilliard

    LB: Pete Werner

    Dante Booker

    CB: Kendall Sheffield

    Shaun Wade OR Marcus Williamson

    S: Isaiah Pryor or Jahsen Wint

    Josh Proctor

    Kevin Dever

    S: Jordan Fuller

    Amir Riep OR Brendon White

    Marcus Hooker

    CB: Damon Arnette

    Jeffrey Okudah

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    K: Sean Nuernberger

    Blake Haubeil

    Kickoff: Blake Haubeil

    Sean Nuernberger

    P: Drue Chrisman

    Sean Nuernberger

    Kick return: Demario McCall OR Johnnie Dixon

    Punt return: Demario McCall OR C.J. Saunders


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    Cleveland Browns Coach Hue Jackson has a 1-8-1 record in games decided by three or fewer points. That's a problem. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- This is the biggest game of Hue Jackson's Browns coaching career.

    It's not a win-or-be-fired game.

    But the Browns are playing the New York Jets at home...Thursday night...on national television.

    The oddsmakers even have the Browns a favorite, despite their last victory being Dec. 24, 2016.

    John Dorsey took over as general manager and began adding veteran players such as Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry, Carlos Hyde and the rest so that the Browns could win a game like this.

    This being the Jets with a rookie starting quarterback.

    Jackson has to find a way to start winning. Not all the problems of his 1-32-1 era are his fault.

    But the man has hired and fired 18 assistant coaches since taking over in 2015. He has survived the firing of one football executive (Sashi Brown). He has a front office that is more in tune with what he wants on the roster.

    Dorsey is correct when he says the team tends to play hard for Jackson. And no one is questioning Jackson's dedication to the job.

    But at some point, the head coach has to find a way to win a game,  especially a close game.

    Jackson has had 10 games decided by three or fewer points.

    His record is 1-8-1.

    Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, September 9, 2018Hue Jackson can't blame every close game loss on a young roster.  

    GOING THE WRONG WAY

    I know, good teams find ways to win tight games...and bad teams figure out a way to lose them.

    But a 1-8-1 record does not reflect well on the coaching staff.

    Several fans have told me, "We should be 2-0 this season."

    Of course, the Browns also could be 0-2 instead 0-1-1.

    Close games often go either way -- except for the Browns, where they tend to go the wrong way.

    Jackson has to take some responsibility for this, and he has to have some difficult conversations with his coaching staff about how to fix it.

    Yes, conversations.

    It has to be more than Jackson saying, "I drive this bus," as he did during a debate on "Hard Knocks."

    My guess is Jackson is more open than that film clip showed. But self-examination is needed.

    Coordinators Todd Haley and Gregg Williams are former head coaches.

    Advisor Al Saunders is more than a trusted friend to Jackson, he is a wise football man. Ask him for an honest opinion.

    I'm sure other members of the coaching staff could have some worthy ideas.

    NOT JUST BEING YOUNG

    The past excuse for losing close games was the young roster and the rookie quarterbacks.

    That leads to mistakes in key parts of the game.

    That's why it was discouraging to see Taylor throw costly interceptions late in the last two games. Both were poor throws for a veteran quarterback.

    But this is deeper than the quarterback.

    It also deals with the psyche of the team.

    I was watching Myles Garrett in the Superdome and thinking, "This talented young player has no idea what it's like to win an NFL game."

    The same with emerging star Larry Ogunjobi, another member of the 2017 draft class who has a 0-17-1 record.

    Joe Schobert has emerged as a Pro Bowl linebacker. His record with the Browns is the same as Jackon's: 1-32-1.

    What are these talented players learning?

    The trade of Josh Gordon is a positive step.

    There was a scene in "Hard Knocks" where Josh Gordon finally arrived in training camp.

    "The Big Bird has landed," Jackson said to some coaches.

    "Is he in shape?" asked Haley.

    Turned out, Gordon had a hamstring problem and couldn't immediately practice. Then other issues arose, leading to his being traded to New England.

    I wonder what the young players learned from the Gordon scenario the last few years.

    As I've been writing, the team is better. The coaching staff is stronger. The door is open to beat a team such as the Jets.

    Now, Jackson has to show he can do it.


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