Hours after it was ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll by The Associated Press, Ohio State suspended two more of its top players.
Coach Urban Meyer said Saturday that cornerback Bradley Roby and running back Rod Smith will sit out the Aug. 31 opener against Buffalo.
That now makes three starters, including leading scorer Carlos Hyde, who have been disciplined this summer and will miss at least the first game at Ohio Stadium.
Roby was punished because of his arrest in July on misdemeanor charges of assaulting a bar bouncer in Bloomington, Ind.
“I don’t think it’s done yet,” Meyer said of the case against Roby. “He’ll be suspended one game just because there’s an issue. I’ll make a further determination once. I don’t think it’s done.”
The prosecutor has offered Roby the chance to enter a pretrial diversion program that could result in the charge being dismissed. Meyer said even if the charge is dismissed, Roby will sit out — and could face further punishment from the team.
“He was there and he shouldn’t have been there. It won’t change,” he said. “Will he play the first game? No.”
Roby has been working out with the second team, not the starters, even though he is one of the top cornerbacks in the Big Ten. He considered entering the NFL draft after his redshirt sophomore season last year.
Smith, a senior, was suspended for the Buffalo game because of an undisclosed violation of team rules last winter.
“He’s doing very good. He’ll be a valuable member of this team once he gets back, but he’s practicing at a very, very high level,” Meyer said. “It’s his last call. It’s the 11th hour for Rod Smith so he needs to perform.”
Meyer said Smith was in line to start the opener after Hyde was suspended for the first three games after an alleged assault against a woman in which he did not face charges.
“I feel like they made bad decisions and coach had to do what he had to do,” linebacker Ryan Shazier said. “We’ll be missing Bradley Roby, but we have a really good defensive back corps that’s going to make up for who we’re going to miss.”
Added defensive lineman Michael Bennett: “I come in, bring my lunch pail to work and whatever happens, happens.”
Meyer has been criticized for what some perceive as lax discipline during his time as the coach at Florida. One of his best players with the Gators, Aaron Hernandez, was arrested on murder charges this summer.
Meyer was asked if the latest suspensions were meant to send a message.
“That’s our job. They’ve been told,” he said. “There’s two ways [to punish them]: Take their [scholarship] money or take their playing time. If it was early summer I’d take all their scholarships, but it’s the end of summer so we’ll take their playing time away.”