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Coach Woody Hayes

Head Coach 1951-1978
The Coach All Other OSU Head CoachesAre Measured Against

Wayne Woodrow “Woody” Hayes was born February 14, 1913 to Wayne and Effie Hayes in Clifton, Ohio (a small farm community in Clark and Greene Counties between Springfield and Dayton). At a young age Woody and family moved to Newcomerstown, Ohio in rural Tuscarawas County. As an adult Woody Hayes lived primarily in Upper Arlington, Ohio, an upper class Columbus suburb.

Hayes graduated from Denison University with a B.A. in English and History in 1935 and from OSU with a M.A. in Educational Administration. He was an associate professor at Ohio State and taught during offseason. He served in US Navy from 1941 to 1946, interrupting his football coaching career for World War II.One of college football’s most colorful figures, “Woody”, as he was known, served as Head Coach of Buckeyes from 1951 to 1978. During that time, his teams had a record of 205-68-10. (Hayes had 241 total victories as a college head coach; he was also head coach at Denison, and Miami-OH.) Two times he was selected College Football Coach of Year, and he is the only OSU coach to win multiple national championships.

“At 36, he became head coach at Miami of Ohio. In Hayes’ first season, in 1949, the Redskins went 5-4. The next year, Miami tore off an eight-game winning streak, capping its 9-1 campaign with a 34-21 victory over Arizona State in the Salad Bowl. “One player on this team, Bo Schembechler, went on to become an assistant under Hayes at Ohio State, and then coach at Miami and later at Hayes’ fiercest rival, Michigan.

“After this outstanding 1950 season, Hayes was invited to join the big time by Ohio State in February 1951. The university was known as the “graveyard of coaches,” having had five in the previous 11 years. But Hayes would soon change that. “Accepting the Buckeyes’ head coaching job, he said, ‘I’m not coming here looking for security. I came here for the opportunity.’

“In his first year the Buckeyes had trouble adapting to the T-formation that Hayes preferred, and finished with a 4-3-2 record. The next season, however, Ohio State improved to 6-3. More importantly, the team snapped an eight-year losing streak against Michigan, a victory that endeared Hayes to the Buckeye fans. “In 1953, Ohio State finished with the same 6-3 record even though its starting quarterback, John Borton, suffered a season-ending injury in the third game. Hayes came away from the campaign a strong believer in a powerful running game, and the smash mouth style of football — what he called “three yards and a cloud of dust” — became his trademark.

“Hayes also began to view the pass as something not to be trusted. ‘There are three things that can happen when you pass, and two of them ain’t good,’ he said.

“The next season, Hayes and the Buckeyes ran all the way to a national championship. The 1954 team beat Southern Cal, 20-7, in the Rose Bowl to finish at 10-0. Part of the reason for Hayes’ success was his accelerating integration into his team, a practice he continued throughout his career.

“Many consider his 1968* team Hayes’ greatest. That squad routed Michigan, 50-14, and came from behind to beat Southern Cal, 27-16, in the Rose Bowl, earning Hayes his third — and final — national championship. The title came amid a 22-game winning streak.

(*Woody didn’t agree: “After concluding his remarks at a banquet in his honor several years after he finished his Ohio State coaching career, Woody Hayes was asked which of his 38 teams was the best. His 1969 team (upset by Michigan 24-12 in Ann Arbor), he answered without hesitation. With that, Hayes slowly turned and stared down the dais at his former protege and long-time rival, Michigan coach Bo Schembechler. Following a long, uncomfortable pause, Hayes said: “Damn you, Bo, you’ll never win a bigger game!”)

In the 1968 game, already up 42-14, Ohio State scored another touchdown. Woody then called for a two point conversion, which they converted. When asked why he did it, Woody said; “Because the rules won’t let you go for three.”

Hayes usually referred to Michigan as “That School Up North”, supposedly because he could not bring himself to speak the name Michigan…hence OSU fans refer to UM as ‘TSUN’.

“In June 1974, Hayes suffered a heart attack but recovered in time to be on the sidelines for the season opener. Later that season, Michigan State beat Ohio State to spoil the Buckeyes’ bid for an unbeaten season.

“‘I wanted that undefeated season more than anything I ever wanted in my life,” he said. “I’d give anything — my house, my bank account, anything but my wife and family — to get it.'” (From ESPN Classic by Alex Fineman)

During his 28 year tenure, the Buckeyes won five national titles (three were consensus national championships in 1954, 1957 and 1968), narrowly missing out on four others. Ohio State won thirteen Big 10 titles under Hayes, and 11 of his teams went to post season bowl games.

Four of Woody’s teams had unbeaten records and five others ended season with just one loss. Between 1968 and 1970, Ohio State team posted 27 wins and just two losses. During that span they won three Big Ten titles. From 1972 to 1977, OSU won six-consecutive Big Ten championships; those teams had a combined record of 49-8.

Michigan hired Glenn “Bo” Schembechler in 1969. This started the “Ten Year War” and is probably the greatest era of rivalry. For ten years OSU and Michigan dominated Big Ten play, splitting ten conference titles and finishing second eight times. (Check out the book The Ten Year War – Ten Classic Games Between Bo and Woody)

Schembechler, who played for Hayes at Miami (OH) and was an OSU assistant coach under Hayes, enjoyed nothing more than beating his old mentor. Bo once said about his mentor: “There was plenty to criticize about Woody Hayes. His methods were tough, his temper was, at times, unforgivable. And, unless you knew him or played for him, it is hard to explain why you liked being around guy. But you didn’t just like it, you loved it. He was simply fascinating.” (From Bo by Bo Schembechler and Mitch Albom.)

Ohio State, under Woody, has been the only Big Ten school to play in four-consecutive Rose Bowls; the 1972-73-74 & ’75 seasons. Twice Buckeyes won a conference record 17-consecutive league games under Coach Hayes.

During Hayes’ tenure fifty-six players were selected All Americans; in addition, two players won three Heisman Trophys, three more won the Outland Trophy and two the Lombardi Trophy.”

Woody’s style was strength-on-strength, will-on-will, toughness-on-toughness. Woody’s philosophy was, “I will pound you and pound you until you quit.”

His conservative style of predominantly running the ball at the opponents is known as ‘three yards and a cloud of dust.’ Woody believed that the pass should be used as an element of surprise; ‘There are three things that can happen when you pass, and two of them ain’t good,’ he said. Woody won with preparation; he was a notorious perfectionist who paid close attention to every minute detail. He brought his experiences from the Navy into his coaching style; when teams played a Woody Hayes-coached Buckeye team, they had to be ready to face the toughest, strongest, most determined, most disciplined, and most prepared team that they’d be facing that season. His work ethic was harder than any competitor; he would commonly watch tapes and prepare into wee hours of the morning.”

The Hayes temper is a thing of legend. Woody would commonly explode into verbal assaults at coaches and players, but he would also be the first to congratulate someone when they performed well. He was famous for throwing and destroying objects; he would always throw his hat, destroy his watch, and stomp on his glasses when he got angry. He would throw anything he could get his hands on. One his favorite projectiles was a water jug that was always on his desk. It was always left empty, and the equipment manager would always have six replacement jugs available for the ones he broke. One time, he even hurled a film projector towards assistant coach Bill Mallory.

“There was also a side of Woody — a side that he even tried to hide — that was as compassionate, caring and loving as anyone. He would cry at the slightest hint of sentimentality. He was the first to visit injured players when they were sent to the hospital, and while he was there, he would drop in other rooms and talk to other patients. During the energy crisis, he would walk to work to save energy, and he sold his car because he thought his family was contributing too much to the crisis. One time, he learned of an ex-player that was going to drop out of Harvard Medical School. Hayes learned of it, and despite being right in the middle of a crucial and busy time in the recruiting season, he caught a plane to Massachusetts, walked in the room unannounced, and convinced the ex-player to stay in school. Not only did the ex-player make grades and graduate, but he went on to become the chief of neurosurgery at a prestigious Midwestern medical school.” (Some Excerpts from His career would fatefully draw to a close with his blow to a Clemson player, noseguard Charlie Bauman, in the 1978 Gator Bowl. Bauman had just intercepted freshman quarterback Art Schlichter’s short pass over middle on the 18, as Buckeyes, trailing by two, were driving for the go ahead score with just under two minutes to play. There was a firestorm of criticism across the country, and embarrassed university leaders were forced to take action. The next morning after the 17-15 defeat, Hayes was fired. He never coached again. (He also never apologized to Bauman for hitting him.)

At times, Hayes refused pay raises because he believed they would interfere with winning; as a result, some of his assistants were paid more than he was. In 1978, his last season, Hayes’ salary was $43,000.

A favorite story in Ohio is about a man who went to heaven, where at a football game he saw a fat old man in a baseball cap jumping up and down on sidelines.

“Who is that madman?” the new arrival asked St. Peter.
“That’s God,” St. Peter replied. “But he thinks he’s Woody Hayes.”

Ohio State paid tribute to Hayes in a ceremony at halftime of Buckeyes’ game against Texas, on September 10, 2005. New Athletic Director Gene Smith proposed the large, three-section tribute to honor Coach Hayes in Ohio Stadium, where he roamed the sideline and his teams brought glory and legend to Ohio State football. A simple block ‘O’ fills left section of the memorial, Hayes’ name and years he coached are in middle section and on right is recognition of his Big Ten and national titles. It is located near where Ohio State has recognized Heisman winners, at closed end of stadium on the facing of C deck.

Coach Hayes also received other accolades from the Ohio State faithful in his retirement years: he received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Ohio State in 1986; in 1987, Ohio State dedicated the Woody Hayes Athletic Center; he was honored in 1983 with induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Hayes’ longtime wife, Anne, was once asked if she’d ever considered divorcing Woody. Her response was: “Divorce, no. Murder, yes.”

Woody Hayes once said that when he died, he wanted it to be on 50-yard line at Ohio Stadium. Instead, he succumb in his sleep to a heart attack at his home in a Columbus suburb on March 12, 1987. He was 74.

He may be gone but his legend will for eternity live on and his achievements will forever serve as the measuring stick against which all OSU head coaches are judged.

Quotes From Woody

“I’ve had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven’t run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can’t outwork you, then smarts aren’t going to do them much good. That’s just way it is. And if you believe that and live by it, you’d be surprised at how much fun you can have.”

“Paralyze resistance with persistence.”

“There’s nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you.”

“The only meaningful statistic is number of games won.”

“Without winners, there wouldn’t even be civilization.”

“A man is always better than he thinks.”

“I don’t live in the past. I’m a student of the past, and I try to learn from the past, although some people will say, ‘You haven’t done a very good job of it.’ But for me to live in the past? Hell, no.”

“Statistics always remind me of fellow who drowned in a river where the average depth was only three feet.”

“The time you give a man something he doesn’t earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”

“Success – it ‘s what you do with what you’ve got.”

“I’m not trying to win a popularity poll. I’m trying to win football games. I don’t like nice people. I like tough, honest people.”

“I don’t apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there. I just despise to lose, and that has taken a man of mediocre ability and made a pretty good coach out of him.”

“You don’t get hurt running straight ahead…three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense. I will pound you and pound you until you quit.”

Woody on Bo Schembechler: “We respected one another so damn much. Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t get so mad at him that I wanted to kick him in the, uh, groin.”

“The height of human desire is what wins, whether it’s on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium.”

“Make sure you do the thinking with this head (pointing to his head), and not with this head (pointing beneath his belt).” – to his 1974 freshman class.

“There are too many people who can too easily identify with defeat.”

“You don’t have to like me, just respect me.”

“Just remember one thing. I can do your job, but you can’t do mine.” – to an OSU professor.

“You know, I still didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.” – after listening to Sid Gillman describe his passing offense for almost a whole day.

“I could beat Jesse Owens in a 100 yard dash if you gave me enough of a head start.”

“You can never pay back, but you can always pay forward.”

“I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose.”

Woody Hayes 1913 – 1987