As the powers-that-be at the Ohio State University attempt to figure out the future of football coach Urban Meyer, the school has hired an outside counsel to handle the investigation.
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Mary Jo White will serve as the investigator. The name will ring plenty of bells for football fans, and not simply because she handled the recent investigation regarding the alleged workplace misconduct of former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.
Six years ago, the league hired White to provide a kind of/sort of independent review of the evidence in the Bountygate scandal. And she called the evidence of guilt “overwhelming,” thanks in part to a gross mischaracterization of one key piece of it.
White insisted that audio from NFL Films proved that Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove said to teammate Bobby McCray “give me my money” after Hargrove delivered a hit that appeared to injure the leg of Vikings quarterback Brett Favre during the 2009 NFC title game. But close inspection of the video and audio showed that it was inconclusive at best that Hargrove had actually said those words.
White’s insistence that Hargrove said “give me my money” came from her assertion that “you can see his lips moving.” But the video simply did not support that claim.
What relevance does this have to Ohio State’s investigation of Urban Meyer? It suggests, in my opinion, that White is susceptible to giving the entity that hired her to do a job the outcome that the entity that hired her wants. Plenty of lawyers yield to that temptation, because clients typically prefer to hire (and to re-hire) lawyers who can get the clients whatever the clients want. White, in my opinion, gave the NFL what it wanted in the Bounty case. Ted Wells, in my opinion, gave the NFL what it wanted in #Deflategate.
That’s how some lawyers emerge as the go-to candidates to be hired to handle investigations like this. The executives of a given business have a way of finding out who will play the game, and who won’t. And those who will play the game tend to be the ones who are more likely to get the gig.
So what do the persons who hired White want the bottom line of the Urban Meyer investigation to be? Once the answer to that question is known, it will become a lot easier to predict whether Meyer stays or goes.