COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State players, speaking Tuesday for the first time since coach Urban Meyer returned from a three-game suspension, said Meyer's actions did not change the way they viewed him or the "core values" of honesty and respect for women that he regularly espouses.
Senior tackle Isaiah Prince said he and his teammates have tried to ignore criticism of their coach during the past six weeks.
"I don't believe Coach Meyer would have anything to do with that. I believe he was telling the truth," Prince said in an interview Tuesday night. "He's a great guy, so I don't really pay attention to things on TV."
Prince said he didn't believe much would change now that Meyer has returned in a full-time role. Other Ohio State players said they were happy to have him back as a motivator, and expected him to be a little more emotional than usual when he takes the field against Tulane in Columbus this weekend. Meyer briefly addressed his suspension with the team Sunday, telling the players he wanted to learn from what happened and put it behind him.
Meyer's three-game suspension officially ended Sunday, and he met the team that morning not long after the Buckeyes returned from a trip to Texas.
Players said Meyer appeared to be genuine in telling them some of the details of what happened and why. They appreciated him sharing his version of events and the fact that they'll have their head coach back on the sideline for games moving forward.
"He just gave us a brief overview of what went down, and I'll just kind of leave that in the team room. He kind of just wanted to move past it, you know, looking to learn from it and grow," defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones said. "I didn't really have a reaction to it. I was just listening because I didn't know what was going on specifically."
Ohio State suspended Meyer in mid-August for failing to uphold the standards of the university. He was not allowed to coach the team at all up until Sept. 3 and was not allowed to coach the Buckeyes during their first three games of the year.
According to the university, Meyer made mistakes by not disciplining or firing former assistant coach Zach Smith despite a string of inappropriate behavior, including multiple police investigations of domestic violence accusations made against him.
The university also said he failed to represent the school well when he misrepresented what he knew about Smith's past during interviews at Big Ten media days in July. Meyer said during a teleconference Tuesday that he plans to act as more of a "game manager" and let assistant coaches Ryan Day, who served as head coach in Meyer's absence, and Kevin Wilson call plays on offense.
Day will remain on the sideline, where he has been for the past three games -- all Buckeyes victories. Players said Tuesday that the 39-year-old offensive coordinator brought a sense of calm to the team on the field during tense moments of games.
Meyer said going into the season he had hoped to take a hands-off approach to playcalling, but his decision to stick with that plan was cemented by the success Day and Wilson had running the offense without him. The Buckeyes averaged 56.3 points per game in their first three games of the year, the nation's second-most potent scoring attack.
"I've done that before in the past," Meyer said about his game-manager plans. "I help where I need to help, but I think a high degree [of that decision] was the performance of the offense and how well they worked together."
Players said Tuesday that they felt Meyer's return this weekend would bring some finality to the unorthodox start to the season and training camp they've had while the coach was suspended.