Brad Koffel, the attorney representing former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith, used his weekly local radio show to blast the way the story has been covered, particularly the focus on head coach Urban Meyer.
“The past two weeks Columbus, the country, has personally witnessed reporters not report but draw inferences upon inferences and create narratives that are designed to grab eyeballs and clicks, not against corrupt public officials like the royal governor of New York that John Peter Zenger went to trial over but against football coaches. Football coaches!” Koffel said in the latest episode of his weekly show, “For the Defense,” which aired Sunday morning on 610 WTVN.
The football coaches he referred to are Smith, who was fired July 23 after being charged with criminal trespassing and facing a domestic violence protection order, and Meyer, who has been placed on leave pending an investigation of how he handled 2015 allegations Smith abused his wife.
(Zenger was the defendant in a historic libel case that helped establish the rights of a free press.)
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Koffel argued there is “nothing unique” about the Smiths’ divorce despite Courtney Smith accusing Zach of abusing her and Zach’s admission their marriage was “toxic” during an interview with ESPN on Friday night.
Zach Smith said there were multiple occasions when things got physical while he was trying to extricate himself from an argument and denied ever abusing Courtney despite being “a bad husband” who “pushed her buttons.”
Koffel did not touch on that, but he defended Meyer’s handling of queries into the Smith situation during his appearance at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago on July 24.
Meyer has been heavily criticized for saying the 2015 incident was “nothing” and asking, “Who creates a report like that?”
In Koffel’s view, “(Meyer) was asked a question predicated on, listen to me, false internet reports that were hours old, and he answered that question appropriately.”
That was in reference to a Facebook post by Brett McMurphy, who reported he had a police report showing Zach Smith had been arrested for domestic violence and felonious assault against his then-wife in 2015. McMurphy later wrote that an updated report released by Powell, Ohio, police no longer showed Smith had been arrested.
“What was being reported that happened in 2015 never happened. (Those reports) were false,” Koffel said, seemingly focusing on whether or not Smith was actually arrested rather than if there were an incident that was investigated by police.
“(Meyer) didn’t lie to (the media) on Media Day,” Koffel said. "(The media) asked a poor question based upon false internet reports. Get your facts straight before you ask a question like that on the record. I have the facts. I have all the police reports. Yes. Nine. You know what they are? They’re traffic violations. Six of them. Another call about an elderly man, 65-year-old, followed the assistant coach’s wife back to her house. She got spooked. Another was a well-being check on the kids. The police showed up and everything was just fine. There are no reports. There are no arrests. OK?”
Koffel also questioned responsibility being assigned to Meyer and OSU director of athletics Gene Smith when the matter was investigated by local law enforcement.
“Mind you the investigating officers with jurisdiction over such matters and a state law that mandates arrests for domestic violence never arrested or charged said assistant coach, but the head coach and now the athletic director are supposed to do more than the police? Since when?” Koffel said.
>>READ MORE: Meyer breaks silence
He went on to lament the public becoming “conditioned sheep who think heads have to roll because the media says so. This reminds me of those ancient tribes that sacrificed a virgin to please the gods. We are more sophisticated than that. To not let New York or Bristol, Connecticut, run unchecked and tell us how we should think and force institutions to bend to their will.”