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Former Gators now Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer suspended

Florida Football Insiders

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Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The controversy that began with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer  not answering questions at Big Ten Media Days last month about multiple domestic violence allegations against a now former assistant of his, has resulted in three game suspension for him.

The former Gators coach, who won National titles in 2006 and 08 in Gainesville, and later with the Buckeyes in 2014, will miss the opener with Oregon State, then games with Rutgers and TCU.

This was after a ten hour Wednesday meeting of the Ohio State Board of Trustees.

It all stems from a two week independent investigation, while Meyer was placed on administrative leave, after Meyer’s receivers coach Zach Smith was investigated multiple times for domestic violence and yet, was still allowed to coach in Columbus.

The story was broken in July by college football insider Brett McMurphy and he posted a link the story on his Facebook page.

In his full detail exclusive story that includes text messages and photographic verification, Smith’s wife Courtney alleges that he began abusing her in July of 2009, while with the Gators.

Here’s is the excerpt from McMurphy’s post about the Gainesville incident:

The first time Zach Smith allegedly physically abused his wife was June 21, 2009 in Gainesville, Fla. Courtney Smith, then 24, was 8-10 weeks pregnant.

On June 20, 2009, Florida was coming off its second national title in three seasons under Meyer. Urban and his wife threw a party before their hard-working staff members left for summer break. After the party, Courtney said she went home, while Zach went out with some buddies. Courtney said Zach returned home drunk around 3 a.m. with a female co-worker, who Zach called “baby,” pleading with Courtney to let the woman spend the night with them, according to a Gainesville police report.

Courtney said the woman was Amy Nicol, who at the time was Meyer’s secretary at Florida. For the past six years Nicol has been director of internal operations for Ohio State’s football program and a member of Meyer’s staff a total of 10 seasons. According to the police report, Zach said that night Amy “was upset from breaking up with her boyfriend” and needed a place to stay.

Courtney refused and drove Amy home. Upon returning “a heated argument ensued in the upstairs bedroom. Courtney stated she tried to get Zach out of her bed, which he refused and then forcefully grabbed her,” according to the police report.

The report said Zach Smith, then 25, “picked (Courtney) up, by grabbing her T-shirt and threw her against the bedroom wall.”

It was the Smith’s one-year wedding anniversary.

Zach Smith, then in his fourth year on UF’s staff, was handcuffed and arrested for aggravated battery on a pregnant victim. Meyer said last week at Big Ten Media Days that in 2009 he and his wife Shelley “advised for counseling and wanted to help” the couple.

Smith left Gainesville in 2010 becoming an assistant at Marshall University.

However, he had been back with Meyer at Ohio State since he took the job in 2012 and up until the latest domestic violence allegations of 2015 surfaced.

That’s when Meyer was questioned at Big Ten Media Days (shown above) and claimed to have had no prior knowledge of Zach Smith’s 2015 domestic violence allegations.

Meyer then fired Smith, as a media firestorm ensued.

It was later revealed in August by media coverage that Smith also had a DUI in the Columbus area in 2013 that he never revealed to anyone. This further fueled the belief that some kind of punishment was coming Meyer’s way.

Athletic Director Gene Smith was also suspended for three weeks for failing to follow compliance rules involving the incidents and possible investigations that should have happened.

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Coaches and rosters finalized for East-West Shrine Bowl

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL and the newly-renamed East-West Shrine Bowl are finalizing not only their player rosters, but their coaching staffs for next Saturday’s game in St Petersburg, FL.

Late this week, the longest running college all-star game, the East West Shrine Bowl, named its head coaches, both of whom have ties to the Tampa Bay Area.

Bucs inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell will coach one of the teams, while former Buccaneers and current Falcons tight end coach, Ben Steele will be in charge of the other.

Caldwell, who came to the Buccaneers in Bruce Arians’ first season has been in the NFL for a total of 11 years and had previously served as the assistant head coach and linebackers coach for the New York Jets under Todd Bowles for 4 seasons.

Steele, who has coached in the NFL for seven seasons reunited with Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter  in Atlanta after previously having been his tight end coach in Tampa Bay last year.

Bob Roller, executive director of the East-West Shrine Bowl, said in a statement about the coaching selections,

 “We’re very excited to have Mike Caldwell and Ben Steele as head coaches for our East-West Shrine Bowl all-stars,” said Bob Roller, executive director of the East-West Shrine Bowl. “Ben was a coordinator for our 2019 game and both coaches have ties to the Tampa/St. Pete area. They will lead two strong staffs of NFL assistant coaches that will be invaluable to our players as they begin their own journey to the NFL”

Meanwhile, the rosters do have some Florida flair, as several noteworthy names will be on the East team. That’s led by speedy UCF running back Adrian Killins, Gators wide receiver Freddie Swain and USF tight end Mitchell Wilcox. On the East defensive squad, FAU linebacker Rashad Smith, Miami linebacker Shaq quarterman and UCF defensive back Neville Clark are part of the roster.

This will be the 95th playing of the East-West Shrine Bowl and it boasts 71 Pro Football Hall of Famers that have played in their game. And, they also had more than 300 players who were on an NFL roster for Week 1 last year that have played in the East-West Shrine Bowl.

The game also announced that there will be four legendary mentors working with the players in practices later this week in St Pete. Those include: Hall of Fame offensive lineman Will Shields, Super Bowl Champion defensive end Willie McGinest, as well as, long time safety Bobby Taylor and long time wide receiver Amani Toomer.

The game will be played at Tropicana Field, the home of Major League Baseball Tampa Bay Rays and televised nationally on the NFL Network at 3 p.m., Eastern Time next Saturday.

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New Year’s Day has prominent teams in Florida Bowls

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As the new year begins, traditional college football bowl games will be taking place. And even though there are no Florida teams battling on New Year’s Day, there are two prominent bowl games in the state.

First, two of college football’s “Blue Bloods” play Wednesday afternoon, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Michigan Wolverines will do battle in the VRBO Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Both programs come off of disappointing end to their regular-season, as they both lost to their rivals. Alabama dropping a wild 48 – 45 game in the Iron Bowl to Auburn and Michigan losing badly 56-27 to Ohio State and their finale at home.

The Tide are without All American caliber quarterback Tua Tagovailoa who suffered a fractured hip late in the year. However, Nick Saban has arguably the best wide receiving corps in all of college football to compensate for Tagovailoa’s absence.

Michigan has perennially under-achieved under coach Jim Harbaugh, but would love nothing better than to score a head-to-head win against Bama in this one.

Meanwhile across I-4 in Tampa, the 25th playing of the Outback Bowl will take place and it’s a first-time matchup between the SEC Auburn Tigers and the big Ten’s Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The Gophers were Darlings of the Big Ten late in the year that they got to 9 – 0 for only the second time in program history before faltering with losses to Iowa and Wisconsin which knock them out of the Big Ten championship game. Their coach P.J. Fleck is the Big Ten coach of the year and has done an amazing job of making Minnesota nationally relevant.

As for the Tigers, we mentioned the victory over Alabama which was particularly sweet for Coach Gus Malzahn, who has been under fire in recent years for not living up to success earlier in the 2010s. Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix, the son of the former Auburn star Patrick Nix, leads a high-powered attack that will look to finish the season on a winning note. The Tigers lost their three biggest games of the year to Florida, LSU, and Georgia, but wins over Alabama and Minnesota will help.

The Gophers have had their most important season since they played in the Rose Bowl in 1962 and would love nothing better than to upset the Tigers in this one.

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