All posts by monotrememadness

Oh, hey, I didn't see you there. Hello! My name is Alex, and I am a twenty-something Midwesterner making comical observations of everyday life. Occasionally I can call upon my bachelor's degree in biology to help me sound like I know what I'm talking about, especially when discussing animals. I am a lover of nature, science, sports, movies, and the power of rock and roll, and I love to share my thoughts on these and other subjects with anyone who will listen.

Next Stop: Space!

We’re still roughly a month away from Mach 1 Day, the celebration of Chuck Yeager’s historic first supersonic flight on October 14, 1947, but this is too important of a date in the annals of aviation to pass up on until then. September 17th is also a major day for introducing not one, but two of the most important aircraft ever flown, and yes, they both broke the sound barrier. In fact, to put it lightly, they each fucking shattered it!

In the mid-1950s, the United States was cruising through the air with numerous supersonic planes and had already surpassed Mach 1, Mach 2, and Mach 3. Of course, when it comes to the field of aviation, there’s truly nowhere to go but up, and you always can go up farther. The US wanted to hit hypersonic speeds, otherwise known as speeds of Mach 5-7, and they wanted to do it for one big reason, the biggest of all in fact: space.

In 1954, the US military sought to commission a hypersonic aircraft that could land on its own. After a four company competition which included Bell Aviation, the creator of the Bell X-1 that Yeager flew in 1947, the winner was announced. No design (and price) blew away the Air Force and NACA (the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics that would in October 1958 be transferred into the new government agency known as NASA), but they were most favorable toward North American Aviation’s mock-up and ordered three to be built. Another company, Reaction Motors, was tasked to construct the rocket-powered engines for the aircraft.

The North American X-15 was tested out a bit after its construction, and it was formally unveiled on September 17, 1959, ushering in an exciting era of extreme aerial speed. All black with a unique design (see above) to help manage the craft’s aerodynamics at hypersonic speeds, the X-15, like other rocketplanes, was flown up attached to the undercarriage of a larger mothership – in this case a B-52 Stratofortress – then dropped to open up its rocket thrust.

The X-15 had twelve total pilots, including Neil Armstrong, future first man on the Moon, and Scott Crossfield who was the first man to fly beyond Mach 2. But for as impressive as Crossfield’s Mach achievement was, it was nothing compared to those of Major Robert White. White was a test pilot in the United States Air Force who made the first flights beyond Mach 4 and Mach 5, but he was not even close to calling it there. On November 9, 1961, Major Robert White became the first person to push past Mach 6. Yeah, Mach 6! He flew the X-15 to 4093 miles per hour (6590 km/hr)!

But wait, there’s more! Two years later, in both July and August of 1963, Joseph A. Walker topped the X-15’s altitude mark by flying it beyond 62 miles (100 kilometers) above sea level. This mark is referred to as the Karman Line, and it marks the boundary of Earth and Space. That’s right, Walker flew a plane into Outer Space. He holds the distinction of being the the seven American to travel to Space and was granted the title of astronaut for having left the confines of Earth’s atmosphere. Unfortunately, as was the case with too many test pilots, Walker died three years later in a midair collision during another test flight.

The X-15 was a remarkable plane that was the world’s first spaceplane, and still holds the record for altitude achieved by a plane, as well as speed, which it officially maxed out with William Knight’s 1967 flight that reached Mach 6.72, or 4520 mph (7274 km/h)! We’ll focus on Knight’s tenure as a pilot here, and not drift into his later years as politician in California who wrote the infamous Proposition 22 that banned gay marriage in the state and was openly defied by Knight’s own son David who married his partner in San Francisco in 2004.

The amazing X-15 was slated to be the first step in hypersonic space flight with a winged plane. Projects like Dyna-Soar were to carry on it’s legacy and take it to even higher heights. However, NASA and the USAF would shift their focus to rockets like the Mercury Redstone to reach the realm of Outer Space. They would come back to a winged vehicle that could operate in Space and land itself though. More familiar than the X-15 was the spacecraft that probably what most people think of when they hear the word “spaceplane”.

Once again, on September 17th, this time in 1976, another winged wonder was rolled out. With the primary goal of operating in Space and returning on its own power to Earth, the space shuttle made its debut with prototypical craft Enterprise. Originally supposed to bear the name Constitution, the power of fandom intervened, and then-President Gerald Ford was inundated with letters from Trekkies requesting the name be changed to Enterprise. Ford liked the name, and he requested NASA change it. Thus the Star Trek fans were appeased, and more importantly, the world’s first space shuttle was displayed. Though Enterprise never went into orbit, its following fellow craft did from 1981-2011, rocketing along a road that was first paved by the likes of fast craft like the X-15.

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to learn more about the X-15, then check out this piece from HistoryNet. I found it quite interesting and educational. If you express any interest in my writings, then please send me your feedback, or suggestions for the future at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Be sure to zip back here next week for more high-flying fun!

I’m a Rocketman! ROCKETMAN!

Alex

P.S. Congrats to Holly Ridings, the new chief flight director at NASA who is the first female to hold the position!

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Smokey Sausage and the Bundit

Toledo, Ohio is a a mid-major Midwestern city in the northwest corner of the state, and is the fourth largest city in population behind Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. While not as well known worldwide as the three Cs, Toledo does have a few key claims to fame to boast. For one, the most famous minor league team, the Toledo Mud Hens, hail from there (I don’t care about who Kevin Costner played for in Bull Durham, and besides, I’m mad at them for knocking the Hens out of the International League playoffs on Saturday). Tying into what made the Mud Hens a more household name is Toledo’z most famous actor – no, not Katie Holmes, but Jamie Farr! Best known for playing Corporal Maxwell Klinger on M*A*S*H, Jamie Farr is a native Toledoan who made the most of his originally intended brief appearances to become a staple character on the show. It probably helped that he played a man so eager to get out of the Korean War that he resorted to wearing gaudy dresses to be labeled cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and be sent home. He worked his own hometown heritage into the role, and Klinger proudly touted Toledo standards like the Mud Hens; even occasionally trading a dress for a baseball jersey.

Farr’s Klinger was also integral in putting another piece of Toledo onto the national scene, and that is Tony Packo’s Cafe. Tony Packo opened his first restaurant in 1932 and sold sausage sandwiches. He purchased a larger establishment three years later, and upgraded the sandwiches too. Packo added chili to the sandwich, which in truth was more of a hot dog. In fact, the sausage was advertised as a “Hungarian hot dog” (it’s like the Hungarian version of a Polish kielbasa), and it is still served today at all Packo’s restaurants located only around Toledo. Mentions on M*A*S*H brought visitors from all around, and reciprocated love for Farr and the show are apparent in each eatery. Also abounding in every one of the hot dog havens is another decoration that is entirely unique to the local chain, but that was started by another celebrity….

In 1972, Tony Packo’s was doing all right. It may not have yet been noticed nationally, but that was not far off as Klinger and company were just hitting TV screens in M*A*S*H, but it was a local favorite in Toledo as it had been for decades. An actor was traveling through town along with a stage production of The Rainmaker -not the John Grisham crime story, but the N. Richard Nash play about a Depression-era ranchers. This actor had starred in a few television series, including Westerns and a police drama. He wasn’t a huge name, but he was known, and more importantly, he was known to Nancy Packo, Tony’s daughter. She wrote to the actor and encouraged him to come to her father’s cafe. Hey, an actor’s got to eat, the same as the rest of us, why not eat the best Toledo has to offer?

On night, after a performance of The Rainmaker, he came! He came, he ate, he conquered, and before he left he was asked by Nancy for an autograph. The actor grabbed a hot dog bun and signed his name right on it.

Image result for burt reynolds tony packo's hot dog bun

Burt Reynolds was the first person to sign a hot dog bun at Tony Packo’s Cafe, inadvertently kicking off a tradition that has seen over 1500 notable people from all walks of life signing one of the most uncommon autographs in their careers. Nowadays, the buns are not buns at all, but foam replicas that are airbrushed to look like buns and are easy to write on.

Of course, Burt Reynolds would go on to become even bigger, with a number of successful films, including his big break which came in that same year 1972, with the release of Deliverance. He also became known for turning down some roles that would go on to be successful; he actually was offered a lead role in the movie MASH that preceded the TV show. However, he still made a number of acclaimed films, many of which were big crowd pleasers and box office hits. Among his most memorable movies were The Longest Yard (1974), The Cannonball Run (1981), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), Boogie Nights (1997) for which he earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, and his signature film Smokey and the Bandit (1977) where his onscreen chemistry with costar Sally Field carried over into a real-life relationship.

Burt Reynolds’ life in the spotlight had its ups and downs, but we can look back and smile at it and appreciate the fun he provided when he showed up onscreen. I can almost hear his infectious happy laugh now. Rest in peace, Burt.

Thanks for reading! If you ever find yourself in Toledo, then make a stop at Tony Packo’s for lunch or dinner and take a look at Burt’s bun and many of the others on the walls as you enjoy your Hungarian dog and spicy pickles. The white chicken chili and more traditional Hungarian items are pretty great too. If you want to learn more about the restaurant, check out their website and this brief segment that was featured on Dateline’s site:

As always, you can drop me a line at monotrememadness@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or suggestions. Be sure to hop in your Trans-Am and race back here next week for more fun.

Yahoo!

Alex

Burnt Brazilian Bicentennial

Last night, Museu Nacional, the National Museum of Brazil, caught fire and suffered a devastating loss of culture and history with damage and destruction dealt to the artifacts in the museum’s collection. The inferno started around 7:30 pm – after museum hours – so no one is believed to have been hurt. However, the harm done to the museum and to Brazil’s pursuit and preservation of natural history is massive.

Within the extensive collection were some amazing pieces, including “Luzia”, at around 12,000 years she is the oldest human fossil found in the Americas (pictured in the title photo), the huge Bendego` meteorite, and a large assortment of pre-Columbian artifacts from around South America. Additionally, the museum featured a number of Greco-Roman and Egyptian items, like mummies, as well as dinosaur bones that only recently went onto exhibit.

Most, if not all of this is now lost.

Established in 1818 within the former Portuguese royal palace, Museu Nacional was intended to be a welcoming scientific institution whose doors were open to experts of all fields to study their collection. Some scientists who currently work there are now facing the tragic reality that much of their life’s work has gone up in smoke. This is a severe blow to visitors to the museum, especially native Brazilians who once could take pride in their own history dating back to well before Portuguese colonization represented by artifacts now almost certainly gone forever. The museum was under the operation of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, but poor funding from the too often heavily corrupted government left it – and other public university properties – with minimal means to maintain itself. An endowment was due to come in the near future from the Brazilian Development Bank, but most of the money was not accessible until after the coming October presidential election. One of the scheduled uses of those funds was to update the building’s fire prevention, which is lacking to say the least. There were no sprinklers in place at all. It is sad to think that budget restraints due to money mismanagement made an accident that could been mitigated into a blazing bicentennial that the museum may never recover fully from.

In addition to political problems, Brazil being in the hole from the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics has been cited as reasons for a lack of funding being put toward the museum and public universities.

This incident is a travesty for Brazilians and all people. The loss of such an institution promoting scientific research and education is an unfortunate reminder that we need to remember what came before us and care for it so that future generations can appreciate it too. Brazilian and world culture alike was lost in this fire, and I wish the best for the people who lost research and those who will attempt to rebuild their beloved museum. To all of you I bid good luck and say,

Obrigado,

Alex

P.S. If you want to keep up to date on this story, then check out these New York Times and BBC articles I found to be helpful in writing this.

 

And the Winner is… Nobody

Those mob fools want you gone so they can get back to the way things were, but I know the truth; there’s no goin’ back. You’ve changed things… forever!

That quote was spoken 10 years ago by a man who was acutely aware of the direction his world was taking after the introduction of a major player in the game: Batman. Of course, it was the Caped Crusader’s greatest adversary, the Joker who said that to him in the 2008 film The Dark Knight, an instant classic movie that changed the course of cinema. Unfortunately, it was not all for the better, and the main culprit at play in wrecking the quality of top tier movies is at play again. Call them the “mob fools” of this example, who know that things have changed, but who fail to grasp that the movie industry is forever shifted from how it was. I am speaking of course of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. You know, the Oscar people.

It may seem odd to call out the institution that annually awards the top awards to the top films as being the driving force of ruining such movies, but consider what is considered a “top film”. Furthermore, think back upon who and what has won in the past. The criteria for what gets recognized as Oscar-worthy is not an exact science, other than the fact that it tends to be what is lobbied for by large studios.

That campaigning is always underway, even with quality films produced by big studios, and this year such lobbying from a massive studio has ushered in the creation of a new Academy Award.

Disney has been pushing bigtime to get recognition for what I must admit is a worthy film. It has been my favorite of the year so far, thanks quite a lot to its rich characters and settings; its fantastic story that showcases a man struggling with the sins of his father and other predecessors; and its antagonist, whose motivations are rooted in real-world problems dealing with race, and who actually challenges and changes the hero’s preconceived notions and philosophy. With magnificent directing acting, set and clothing design, technical and sound effects, and score, this movie has all the makings of being a Best Picture nominee. But it won’t be because it’s protagonist originated in a comic book.

For as much well-deserved hype Avengers: Infinity War has earned, it remains Marvel’s second best effort of the year behind Black Panther. As a more cohesive story (thanks in part to only having to really cover the trials and tribulations of one superhero), Black Panther explores much more than even some of the better comic book based movies do, with themes of racism, nationalism, technology sharing, and challenging tradition at the core of its story. It is not a perfect film and has some issues with some of the climactic battle effects looking a little too CGIed, but Black Panther scores pretty damn highly. It is almost a sure lock for the new “Oustanding Achievement in Popular Film” award, so why is that a problem?

In short, the Academy’s new most popular award is not a good idea and will hurt “fringe” movies. By this I mean, the movies that typically do not get recognized at the Golden Naked Dude Statue Award Show, like comic book-based movies, science fiction and space fantasy, and anything that is able to make oodles of money on its own without an award nomination to boost its ticket sales. In specific regards to comic book stories put on the screen, for many years such movies rarely made a splash in the realm of challenging the status quo outside of the theater, but that has definitely changed. Superhero movies are more than simple popcorn fare now, and a major reason why is The Dark Knight. Chritsopher Nolan’s grounded-in-reality Gotham City saga helped establish a believable Batman, but it was the social moral quandaries posed by the series’ second installment that really elevated the film, and by virtue the comic book genre with it, to a whole new level. The Dark Knight is one of the best films made in the 21st century, and for me it is one of the best of all time, and certainly the best of 2008. Off the top of your head, can you name the five films that were actually nominated for Best Picture that year? I’ve seen four of them, and the other is in my Netflix queue, and each of them I have only seen once, and because of their nomination. Each has its merits, and I enjoyed at least pieces of all, but I have since returned to repeated viewings of The Dark Knight multiple times; I have seen it probably 4-6 times more than all of the combined viewings of the other five nominees from that year. (It was Slumdog Millionaire that won that year, btw. I know, it was just on the tip of your tongue too. Tally ho.)

The Dark Knight is the classic example of the big comic book movie that both critics and audiences alike liked, but that has been the case for many a movie audience since. While Nolan’s Batman sequel still remains the best of the bunch, other films like Black Panther have added to the list of films that feature a guy in a costume punching baddies that also has something to say. These films should be recognized among the best of the year if they truly are. The Dark Knight encouraged the re-expansion of the Best Picture nominations to up to 10 films, but no year since has had more than nine nominees, and none of those have been based on comic books. Before this announcement, I thought that may change, but now I fear that the “Most Popular Film” “award” will simply be the Academy’s way to blow off Black Panther and any other future blockbuster that contains more nuance than explosions.

Beyond the new movie award, the Oscars promised the shave off some runtime on their big TV show. Shortening the ceremony to three hours means cutting out many technical and design awards that usually fill the middle of the broadcast. Granted, this is rarely what people tune in for, but eschewing it from the main show belittles the achievements of these people and teams who work just as hard in their fields as Leonardo Dicaprio does when he crawls to a sportscar pretending to be wrecked on quaaludes.

 

The official letter that the Academy sent out reads:

Dear Member,

Last night, the Board of Governors met to elect new board officers, and discuss and approve significant changes to the Oscars telecast.

The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show.

Tonight, the Board approved three key changes:

  1. A three-hour Oscars telecast

We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.

To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.

  1. New award category

We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.

  1. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars

The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.

The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world. The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.

We are excited about these steps, and look forward to sharing more details with you.

John Bailey and Dawn Hudson

 

Hopefully my cynicism is unfounded and my suspicions will all be proven to be silly! hahaha – but I doubt it. In an ideal world, films will be awarded for their boldness, ingenuity, beauty, and meaningfulness. It will always be difficult to understand any art’s ability to capture these essences, not to mention that it will be equally tough to agree on what constitutes as having captured such. However, admiring art does not need to be a subjective process only, as there are tangible qualities in story structure, character development, and visual and sound effects that can be measured to determine which film was most excellent. We will need them all, and should appreciate them all, not merely the actor portrayals, and the directorial touches – these are important, yet they are not the complete presentation of the film itself. It will be most difficult of all to offer everyone who deserves acclaim on a film their dues, and I for one don’t mind watching a longer show if you’re going to do it. Just make sure it’s entertaining enough for me to watch to make it worth my while. Regardless of how this new award and shortened show go, the Academy can certainly take a page out of Marvel’s book as to how to keep people watching to the end.

Thanks for reading! I hope you will come back next week for more fun! In the meantime, send any comments, questions, or suggestions to monotrememadness@gmail.com.

Keep rolling,

Alex

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex will return in Next Monday’s Post

R-E-S-P-E-C-T the Queen of Soul

“I don’t think it’s bold at all. I think it’s quite natural that we all want respect — and should get it.”

Bow down, Beyonce; the Queen is ascending.

Aretha Franklin was aptly called the Queen of Soul, and for good reason. Her vocal presence was enormous, felt from the humble beginnings of New Bethel Baptist Church where her father preached, to the R&B charts across America, and on to a universal audience belting along the best that we can to her beloved songs. While best known for her amazing voice and magnificent music, Aretha Franklin was much more than a musician. She was champion for civil rights and a feminist icon, professing her feelings loudly and proudly on and off the stage.

Born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, Franklin moved with her family north to Detroit when she four years old. She grew up in the Motor City, and she made a name for herself singing at her father’s church. Her father took her around the country to further her musical talents, and she spent time with the likes of Sam Cooke, and Mavis Staples and her sisters. She also met Martin Luther King Jr. and sang at his events, and eventually at his funeral. She did have a much more joyful time singing at an historic moment for Americans decades later when she sang at Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration in 2009.

With immortal hits like “Chain of Fools” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, it’s easy to understand how Aretha Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, especially when you consider that her best known song, “Respect” was originally written and performed by Otis Redding two years prior to her version! (I’ll write about this more in the future.) Her rendition has some key musical and lyrical differences, and it is sang from the perspective of a strong woman who is demanding the respect she deserves. It’s no surprise that the song became an anthem for the feminist movement, as well as the civil rights movement, not to mention that it is a fantastic song.

Listening to her incredible voice, with its range and power (she does not need, she does not need, a microphone!), it is easy to deduce how Rolling Stone twice declared her the greatest singer of all time. One of my favorites from her to further demonstrate that killer voice is “Think”, which she sang to great delight in one of my favorite movies.

In The Blues Brothers, Aretha Franklin gives the most memorable of the musical numbers from a performing musician (and that’s saying something because there are a lot and they’re all great!) “Think” is another awesome anthem of empowerment with Franklin pouring her soul into that soulful music.

Aretha Franklin was a remarkable woman whose music and message will live on forever. Her strength, charisma, and natural talent and how she shared it with us all, are all reasons why she earned her reputation as an admired entertainer and force for change. Her voice was not just a musical marvel, but a call for freedom, and what she did with it earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award a United States citizen can have bestowed upon her.

Farewell, Aretha Franklin! Thank you for taking care of business here!

Sock it to me, sock it to me,

Alex

Let’s Get Hitched

Happy Birthday Hitchcock! Today marks what would have been the 119th birthday of the acclaimed film director Alfred Hitchcock. The “Master of Suspense” was born on August 13, 1899, in Leytonstone, England, the youngest of three children. At one point desiring to be an engineer, Hitchcock obviously altered course and found his calling in the medium of film to tell tense tales of murder. Before his death in 1980, he directed over 50 films, including some of the most celebrated of all time, and produced a television show.

In the four years that I have been writing this blog, I have taken a closer look at a few scenes in some of my favorite movies to appreciate the skill of all involved in makign that movie magic happen. Today, I turn that over to one of my favorite YouTube creators, Nerdwriter1, to observe a scene from one of my favorites from Hitchcock: Vertigo.

I have previously stated that Vertigo was the best movie of 1958, and you can make a case that it is the best movie released in the 1950s. That being said, each time that I’ve watched it I did not pick up on the amazing directorial details in the scene that The Nerdwriter studies here.

It is worth noting too, that this video contains spoilers for the movie, so if you have not seen Vertigo yet, I encourage you to watch it. It is a classic for a reason!

Thanks for reading and watching! And thanks for checking this site out for however long you have, especially if you’ve been along for the ride from the beginning! I have been churning out posts each and every Monday for the last four years now (sometimes they even contain more extensive content from me!), and I will continue to do so, so be sure to come back next week! You may also contact me with questions, comments, or suggestions at monotrememadness@gmail.com.

Ta ta for now!

Alex

Urban Decay

The Big Ten East Division may be the strongest in all of college football with powerhouses like Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and in recent years, strong contention from Michigan State. Unfortunately, it has also been the most scandal-ridden with occurrences of heinous abuse of minors at Penn State coming to light in 2011, and at Michigan State just last year. Each were systematic failures at large universities that should have been encouraging the development of young men and women, but instead where many men collectively turned a blind eye to one man’s monstrous behavior that left those children and teenagers scarred for life.

My own favorite sports school, The Ohio State University, is no stranger to scandal either. In 2010, a case of five football players receiving improper benefits in a strange exchange of awards and bowl gifts for tattoos started the end of the Jim Tressel era. The then-head coach later admitted that he knew of the players’ actions after he had lied to NCAA investigators. He was suspended, and shortly after his sentence came down, he resigned. In hindsight, the tattoo scandal seems remarkably tame and highlights the hypocrisy of the NCAA making billions off student athletes who are barred by the organization from being receiving much of anything, but that’s another issue for another day. The relevant details are that a successful coach discovered that somebody broke the rules, tried to hide the fact that rules were broken, and paid the consequences. It is worth noting that Tressel resigned, and that he was unlikely to be fired, but the NCAA still threw the book at the university to set an example.

A year later the Jerry Sandusky allegations poured out of the floodgates at Penn State and the NCAA did not know what to do. Emotions were mixed among the Penn State faithful who, like the Buckeyes before them, did not understand how their beloved, bespectacled coach could have betrayed their trust. These issues are always hard for us in the cheering section at sporting events to fathom as sports serve so well as a distraction from the harsh realities of the world for 60 minutes of game time. We just want to watch 22 guys hit each other while fighting over an egg-shaped ball, not think about how some of them are hitting people who aren’t in pads and aren’t in a game off the field; or how those impacts are steadily and surely battering their brains and making them more susceptible to serious neurological trauma that can manifest in numerous ugly manners; or how the league they play for profits much more greatly than them by exploiting them both at amateur and professional levels.

Ohio State’s football program is again back under scrutiny, and again its head coach is at the forefront of the controversy. Urban Meyer is under fire after a weird week of walking back on comments and poorly explaining his knowledge or lack thereof of allegations that former wide receivers coach Zach Smith was physically violent and emotionally torturous to his ex-wife Courtney Smith. Currently, Meyer is on paid administrative leave as a 2-week investigation is tasked to get to the bottom of what happened in the past and how much and how soon Meyer knew about it.

In the last month, it surfaced that Courtney Smith accused her husband of harming her on separate occasions in 2009 and 2015. There are nine reports of domestic disputes logged by police in Powell, Ohio where the Smiths lived from 2012-2015. If  valid, this indicates a a continuing pattern of abuse by Zach against Courtney, certainly a terrible situation that it is good she has since gotten free from, and most definitely a fireable offense for Zach.

And that’s exactly what happened. Just two weeks ago, Meyer fired Smith on July 23rd. The next day, Meyer said he was made aware of the 2009 incident, but didn’t know about those in 2015. He has since been a little wishy-washy on this point.

Meyer’s vague answers and apparent confusion are not helpful to his job security. Frankly, he is in a rough place no matter what, for his statements don’t make much sense on their own, and furthermore, they don’t match up with what his wife, Shelley, said in past correspondence with Courtney. Shelley knew about the abuse as shown by a series of texts she exchanged with Courtney. And as anyone with a pair of friends who are married or dating knows, if you tell one of them something, they will share it with their significant other. In other words, their is no way that Shelley didn’t tell Urban what she was told. If it is confirmed that Courtney was being abused and the Meyers knew about it and did not properly report it, then both of them could be charged for violating Title IX. If Urban Meyer actively covered Zach Smith’s abuse of Courtney up to maintain his status in the program, that is grounds for termination. And if that is the case, then he should be fired. I am a lifelong Buckeye fan, but I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done for the school and its top team; if you kept a woman in a dangerous situation to keep a guy on staff, then your priorities are not in the right place, and you do not deserve to be in a position of authority setting an example for young men. They need to be taught the opposite of those actions.

Meyer has always been a great football coach, from his first days at Ohio State as an assistant to his mentor coach Earle Bruce to his current days walking the sidelines as Ohio State’s head coach just as Bruce once did. Meyer improved the talent and teams everywhere he took the helm, from Bowling Green to Utah to Florida and back again to Ohio State, yet that is not what is most important. Many men have broken the rules in an effort to win games, and some of them have allowed people to get hurt in the process. If this truly is one of those situations, then Meyer’s impressive records should not even be a factor in the decision of his punishment.

College football has had some unattractive moments in its long history, and this latest one is partially brought on by nepotism. Zach Smith is the grandson of Urban Meyer’s mentor, former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, which is certainly a reason why he was brought onto Meyer’s staff at Florida and retained at Ohio State. It can be fun to hear stories of men like Meyer taking the reins where his mentor once coached, but it is tremendously inexcusable if he showed Smith leniency out of fondness for his grandfather.

What it comes down to is that no reason or collection of reasons is able to justify remaining silent and inactive while someone needed help. However, it is not at all certain what will happen to Meyer and at the university as a result of this sadly because wins matter. Ohio State atheltic director Gene Smith finds himself looking at another football scandal and this could potentially determine that he has not always been merely looking at them. It is possible that Meyer brought this up the chain of command and Gene Smith and others may have been made aware of Courtney’s mistreatment. Nevertheless, no one spoke up when she needed help, and that could hold them all complicit in the guilt of inaction. Courtney spoke of what should truly take precendence in an athletic institution to ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy:

“When somebody is crying out for help, I believe the coach, along with the coach’s wife, have a duty. They have a duty to do something to help, instead of worrying about winning games, or instead of worrying about who his mentor is and who his family is and trying to protect that; somebody’s safety and the safety of their children and the environment they’re in needs to be more important.”

Thanks for reading. I will continue to stay posted on this story as Ohio State’s investigation continues, and I encourage you to as well. Ohio State has a chance to set a precedent depending upon the evidence it studies.

Unfortunately, this is not the only scandal involving Ohio State currently, as numerous members of the school’s wrestling team from the past have come forward to accuse a former team doctor of abuse. Spurred on by the women who bravely stood up against Larry Nassar, these men are making their voices heard as well. You can read more about it in this New York Times article. I also encourage you to stay informed on this, not least of all due to the fact the assistant wrestling coach during this period of abuse was Jim Jordan, an Ohio congressman who is a major contender to be the next Speaker of the House.

Stay informed and do the right thing,

Alex