In a shocking announcement, Ohio State Athletics said the 54-year-old Meyer will retire and Ryan Day, the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, will take over the program moving forward next season.
Meyer, originally from Toledo, Ohio, has led the Buckeyes to an 82-9 record in seven seasons, including two Big Ten Leaders Division titles, 5 Big Ten East Division titles, three Big Ten championships and a national champion for the 2014 season. He also helped build up Bowling Green and Utah, and won two national titles at Florida before taking over at Ohio State following a one-year break from coaching.
From a nationally-covered investigation to on-field success to lingering health problems, this has been a roller coaster season for Meyer, and here is a look at the timeline of the turmoil and triumph:
July 23, 2018: Ohio State Fires Receivers Coach Zach Smith
The first business day after a domestic violence protection order was filed in Delaware County by his ex-wife, Courtney Smith, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes fired wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who had coached under Meyer at both Florida in Gainesville and Ohio State in Columbus.
July 24, 2018: Big Ten Media Days
With plenty of hype surrounding the 2018 season in Columbus, Ohio, Urban Meyer took the podium at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile for nearly 16 minutes to discuss the upcoming campaign with new starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins and the hopes of an undefeated season, Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff berth.
However, considering the timing of the Smith firing and charges against the former coach, Meyer was asked questions about the situation. Turns out, it was only just the beginning.
August 1, 2018: The Allegations That Shook College Football
The biggest storyline of the college football offseason took the Internet by storm when reporter Brett McMurphy, who now works at Stadium, broke a story of text messages — a conversation series between Courtney Smith and Shelley Meyer, the wife of the veteran head coach — that indicated Urban Meyer knew of the domestic abuse allegations against Zach Smith from 2015.
Suddenly, there were now questions whether or not Meyer would be able to coach the 2018 season if the allegations were true. He was placed on paid administrative leave after the story surfaced and prompted an investigation by the Ohio State University.
August 3, 2018: The Shoddy Statement
On the same day Zach Smith was scheduled for a hearing in Delaware County Municipal Court on charges of criminal trespassing, which occurred in May, Meyer released a statement to Buckeye Nation with his side of the story and an apology for misspeaking when asked about the situation at Big Ten Media Days.
August 7, 2018: The Rally at The Shoe
Standing outside Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Stacy Elliott, the father of former Buckeyes star and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, became the unofficial spokesperson at a rally of approximately 50 people in support of Urban Meyer keeping his job amid the damning allegations against Buckeyes coach.
August 13, 2018: More Fuel to the Fire
While the college football world sat on pins and needles awaiting the results of an outside firm’s investigation of Urban Meyer, the entire scandal involving Ohio State took another weird turn when a report surfaced that Zach Smith was arrested in Dublin, Ohio on drunken driving charges back in 2013.
August 16, 2018: The Concert
In likely the only light-hearted thing to come out of the program since the investigation started, interim head coach Ryan Day, who was the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach before Meyer was placed on administrative leave, surprised the Buckeyes by telling them they would see Beyonce, Jay-Z and DJ Khaled later that night after practice.
August 17, 2018: The Letter
After the team enjoyed the concert, Ryan Day released a lengthy letter giving an update on every single position group from practice. It was refreshing, to say the least, and Day was making all of the right moves.
August 22, 2018: Decision Day
After a two-week investigation, which cost Ohio State $500,000, the school’s Board of Trustees held a private meeting, which lasted over 12 hours, to discuss the outside firm’s findings into what Urban Meyer knew and did about the domestic violence allegations against former assistant Zach Smith.
Meyer was slapped with a three-game suspension by University President Michael Drake for mishandling the situation. Athletic director Gene Smith was also suspended from August 31 through September 16.
“I followed my heart and not my head,” Meyer said at the news conference. “I should have demanded more from him and recognized red flags.”
August 24, 2018: The Apology
The entire situation was certainly far from Urban Meyer’s finest moment, and his post-suspension press conference did not exactly set well with a lot of people. So once again, Meyer had to explain himself via social media to calm the waters.
August 29, 2018: The Twitter Tirade
In the aftermath of the OSU Board of Trustees and University President Michael V. Drake’s decision to suspend athletic director Gene Smith head football coach Urban Meyer, fired coach Zach Smith broke his silence and unleashed a barrage of tweets to break his silence.
August 31, 2018: Yet ANOTHER Statement
Just when you thought the focus was shifting back to the 2018 season, Urban Meyer released another statement in hopes to clear his name from the allegations once and for all.
September 1, 2018: Football… Finally
After what seemed like a never-ending saga, including Urban Meyer’s suspension after domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant coach, the Ohio State Buckeyes opened the 2018 season with a crushing 77-31 victory over the Oregon State Beavers.
September 15, 2018: The Big Pay Day
According to game contracts obtained by Eleven Warriors through a public records request under the Freedom of Information Act, Ohio State paid $1.7 million to Oregon State for its season opener on Sept. 1 and $1.5 million to Tulane for the following week.
The TCU game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas was a different story, however, with Ohio State receiving a one-time $5 million payment for that trip to play the Horned Frogs at a neutral site after the two teams adjusted a home-and-home agreement from 2012. And although the schools generally pay for teams to come in, the Ohio State payment was made by Cowboys Stadium LP.
The Buckeyes beat the Horned Frogs, 40-28.
September 17, 2018: The Return Statement
With Urban Meyer returning to his duties as the head coach following a three-game suspension, he released a statement with one final apology before getting back to work.
September 27, 2018: The “Tone Deaf” Tweet
Heading into perhaps the biggest game on the undefeated No. 4 Buckeyes’ schedule — a road battle against the No. 9 Penn State Nittany Lions — a simple tweet reading “Silence the white noise” stirred up the national media and general Internet public to create quite a frenzy before the big game. The tweet was deleted.
October 16, 2018: Nick Bosa Leaves School
Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, a preseason All-American who suffered a core muscle injury against TCU on September 15, decided to focus on the future and withdraw from school to begin training for the 2019 NFL Draft.
October 20, 2018: The Lone Loss
After a 7-0 start to the season, and despite for quarterback Dwayne Haskins throwing for 470 yards, the Ohio State Buckeyes got crushed by the Purdue Boilermakers, 49-20, at Ross-Ade Stadium in Lafayette, Indiana.
October 24, 2018: Zach Smith’s Plea Deal
It had been two months and a few games since former Ohio State coach Zach Smith’s first Twitter rant, but the fired assistant coach was back again after he accepted a plea deal from the incident that sparked all of the controversy.
Smith accepted a plea deal and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct — a reduction from the original a criminal trespassing charge in Delaware County, Ohio that started the entire offseason fiasco — as long as Smith consented to a three-year civil protection order. All Smith had to do was pay a small fee in fines and court costs.
November 24, 2018: The Statement Victory
In hopes of still making the NCAA’s College Football Playoff and national championship, Ohio State destroyed rival Michigan, 62-39, to be in the driver’s seat to win another Big Ten Championship.
December 1, 2018: The Big Ten Championship Game
Heisman Trophy hopeful Dwayne Haskins threw for 499 yards and five touchdowns in the title game to help the Buckeyes take down the Northwestern Wildcats, 45-24, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for another Big Ten Championship trophy to add to the collection and Urban Meyer’s resume.
December 4, 2018: The Retirement
Although there was no reason given initially, Ohio State Athletics announced Urban Meyer would retire following the 2019 Rose Bowl on Jan. 2, with offensive coordinator Ryan Day taking over the program following the prestigious bowl game against the Washington Huskies.
What a crazy, wild ride it has been, both on and off the football field, for Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer in 2018.
What a coaching career it has been, too.