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Wayne Woodrow “Woody” Hayes (February 14, 1913 –March 12, 1987) was a college football coach who won three national titles and 13 Big Ten championships in 28 years at Ohio State Universitymarker.

Early years

Born in Clifton, Ohiomarker, Hayes played center at Newcomerstown High School in Newcomerstown, Ohiomarker. At Denison University, he played tackle under coach Tom Rogers. After graduating from Denison in 1935, Hayes went on to serve as an assistant at two Ohiomarker high schools: Mingo Junctionmarker in 1935-36 and New Philadelphiamarker in 1937. When New Philadelphia head coach John Brickels left to accept another position, Hayes was elevated to the head coaching position, where he put together a 17-2-1 record in his first two seasons before enduring a 1-9 record in 1940.

Hayes enlisted in the United States Navy in July 1941, eventually rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander during World War II. He commanded PC 1251 in the Palau Islandsmarker invasion and the destroyer-escort USS Rinehart in both the Atlanticmarker and Pacificmarker operations.

As World War II was winding down and Hayes' alma mater, Denison University, was pursuing plans to reinstate its football program (which had been suspended during the war), it contacted former head coach Rogers (also in the Navy) about rejoining the program as head coach. Rogers declined, but recommended that his former team captain, Hayes, be named the next head coach. Denison was able to locate and cable Hayes an offer, which he accepted, minutes before his Navy ship was to begin the passage through the Panama Canalmarker — meaning Hayes would have been unreachable for an extended period of time.

Coaching at Denison and Miami

Upon returning to Denison in 1947, Hayes struggled during his first year, winning only two games, over Capital and the season finale against Wittenberg. However, that victory sparked a 19-game winning streak, a surge that propelled him into the head coaching position at Miami Universitymarker. Miami is recognized as the "Cradle of Coaches" because of its history of outstanding coaches starting their careers there, such as Paul Brown, Ara Parseghian, Weeb Ewbank, Bill Mallory, Sid Gillman, Randy Walker, and Bo Schembechler. Gillman was Hayes' immediate predecessor at Miami before Gillman moved down the road to coach at the University of Cincinnatimarker, which was then Miami's chief rival. Hayes and Gillman maintained a fierce rivalry between themselves, combining mutual distaste for the other's coaching style and because they were in recruiting competition in the same general area.

In his second year with the Redskins, Hayes led the 1950 squad to an appearance in the Salad Bowl, where they defeated Arizona State Universitymarker. That success led him to accept the Ohio State head coaching position on February 18, 1951, in a controversial decision after the university rejected the applications of other more well-known coaches, including former Buckeyes' head coach Paul Brown, incumbent Buckeye assistant Harry Strobel and Missouri head coach Don Faurot.

Ohio State

As head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Hayes led his teams to a 205-61-10 record (.761), including two consensus national championships (1957 and 1968), three other non-consensus national titles (1954, 1961, 1970), 13 Big Ten conference championships, and four of the team's eight Rose Bowlmarker appearances. Hayes considered the "greatest victory" of his career the 27-16 win over the University of Southern California during the 1969 Rose Bowl. This win gave the top ranked Buckeyes the 1968 national title over the #2 ranked USC Trojans. Hayes considered his worst defeats the be the 24-12 loss to Michigan in 1969 and the 1976 Rose Bowl loss to UCLA, 23-10. In both cases Ohio State was undefeated and ranked #1 and thought to be "unbeatable." Hayes still regarded the 1969 team as his best ever. Three-time winner of The College Football Coach of the Year Award, now known as the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award, Hayes was "the subject of more varied and colorful anecdotal material than any other coach past or present, including fabled Knute Rockne," according to biographer Jerry Brondfield.

Hayes' basic coaching philosophy was that "nobody could win football games unless they regarded the game positively and would agree to pay the price that success demands of a team." His conservative style of football (especially on offense) was often described as "three yards and a cloud of dust"—in other words, a "crunching, frontal assault of muscle against muscle, bone upon bone, will against will." The basic, bread-and-butter play in Hayes' playbook was a fullback off-guard run or a tailback of takcle play. Hayes was often quoted as saying "only three things can happen when you pass (a completion, an incompletion, and an interception) and two of them are bad."

Despite this seeming willingness to avoid change, Hayes became one of the first major college head coaches to recruit African-American players, including Jim Parker, who played both offensive and defensive tackle on Hayes' first national championship team in 1954. While Hayes was not the first to recruit African-Americans at Ohio State, he was the first to recruit and start African-Americans in large numbers there and to hire African-American assistant coaches.

Another Hayes' recruit, Archie Griffin, remains the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner in seven decades of selections. Altogether Hayes had 58 players earn All-America accolades under his tutelage, while many notable football coaches, such as Lou Holtz, Bill Arnsparger, Bill Mallory, Dick Crum, Bo Schembechler, Ara Parseghian and Woody's successor, Earle Bruce, served as his assistants at various times.

Hayes would often use illustrations from historical events to make a point in his coaching and teaching. When Hayes was first hired to be the head coach at OSU, he was also made a "full professor of physical education", having earned an M.A. degree in educational administration from Ohio State in 1948. The classes that he taught on campus were usually full, and he was called "Professor Hayes" by students. Hayes also taught mandatory English and vocabulary classes to his freshman football players. One of his students was a basketball player named Bobby Knight, who later became a legendary basketball coach.

During his time at Ohio State, Hayes' relationships with faculty members were particularly good. Even those members of the faculty who believed that the role of intercollegiate athletics was growing out of control respected Hayes personally for his commitment to academics, the standards of integrity with which he ran his program, and the genuine enthusiasm he brought to his hobby as an amateur historian. Hayes often ate lunch or dinner at the university's faculty club, interacting with professors and administrators.

As a coach and an educator, Hayes was one of the first to use the motion picture as a teaching and learning tool. He was also memorable in that he could be seen walking across campus, taking the time to visit with students. When talking to young people, Hayes treated all of them equally and with respect, without regard to race or economic class. This behavior by Hayes was helpful to Ohio State in quelling the violence and damage from anti-war demonstrations that Ohio State and other college campuses suffered in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He would actually take the time to communicate with student leaders. Then-team quarterback Rex Kern said, "Woody was out there on the Oval with the protesters, and he'd grab a bullhorn and tell the students to express their beliefs but not be destructive. He believed in Nixon, and he believed in the Establishment, but he wasn't afraid to talk to the students. He wanted to stay close to the action." Hayes was considered one of the few authority figures that students then had respect for. His enthusiasm for coaching and winning was such that many across the nation consider the following maxim to be true: "What Vince Lombardi was to professional football, Woody Hayes was to college football."

During his tenure at Ohio State, Hayes would joke that he considered himself to be Notre Dame's best recruiter because if he could not convince a recruit to come to Ohio State instead of Michigan he would try to steer the recruit to Notre Dame, whom Ohio State did not play. While Hayes' public stance was that he refused to play Notre Dame because he was afraid of polarizing the Catholic population in Ohio, Notre Dame's long-time athletic director Edward "Moose" Krause said that Hayes had told him that Hayes liked having Michigan as the only tough game on the Ohio State schedule and that having the Buckeyes play Notre Dame would detract from that. Given Hayes' apparent fear of playing more than one "tough" game a year, Ohio State still managed to schedule regular-season games with Nebraska, Washington, Southern California, UCLA, and Oklahoma during his tenure.

After losses or ties, Hayes would conduct locker room interviews in the nude. A journalist from his tenure noted, "He was an ugly guy so it would clear the locker room out pretty fast."


Woody Hayes confronts Jerry Markbreit during a 1971 college football game between Michigan and Ohio State
Hayes' volatile temper was often on display during key games; a serious character flaw which often overshadowed his coaching ability. One acquaintance said of Hayes, "Woody's idea of sublimating is to hit someone." In 1956, Hayes attacked a television cameraman following a defeat to the University of Iowa, which was followed three years later by an incident in which he took a swing at Los Angeles Examiner sportswriter Al Bine, but missed and instead struck the brother of Pasadena Independent sports editor Bob Shafer. The scuffle followed a 17-0 loss to the University of Southern Californiamarker.

Another loss to Iowa in the 1960s resulted in Hayes cutting his face with the large ring on his left hand. His rage with that team stemmed from his feud with Hawkeyes head coach and athletic director Forest Evashevski. In a May 1965 meeting of Big Ten Conference athletic directors and coaches, Hayes nearly started a fight with Evashevski.

Hayes had also been seen on television on occasion striking himself in the head and biting his own hand in frustration.

In two instances against arch rival Michigan, both in Ann Arbormarker, his fury also got the best of him: in 1971, he ran onto the field and confronted referee Jerry Markbreit and tore up sideline markers, receiving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Hayes was furious over what he thought was a missed defensive pass interference foul committed by Thom Darden of Michigan. After getting the flag, Hayes began ripping up the yard markers and throwing the first-down marker into the ground like a javelin, prompting another unsportsmanlike conduct flag. Six years later, a late fumble caused him to charge ABC cameraman Mike Freedman, who recorded his frustration. The latter incident resulted in Hayes being put on probation by the Big Ten Conference.

In between those incidents, Hayes' ejection from two separate Rose Bowl appearances also created headlines. Prior to the 1973 contest, Hayes pushed a camera into the face of a news photographer, screaming, "That'll take care of you, you son of a bitch." Three years later, after UCLAmarker had stunned the Buckeyes and cost them a national championship, Hayes refused to let anyone speak to the media following the game.

1961 Rose Bowl vote

In the 1961 season Ohio State won the Big Ten Championship, qualifying them for the Rose Bowl. At the time the Big Ten Conference rules stated that the school's Faculty Council must officially approve of the Bowl Trip. In an unusual development, the Ohio State Faculty Council, urged by the head of a university alumni group, refused the Rose Bowl bid by margin of 28 to 25, using the rationale that the school's academic reputation was suffering because of over-emphasis on the football team. Other reports state that the bid was declined because Ohio State had already beaten their would-be Rose Bowl opponent, UCLAmarker, during the regular season. The decision sparked minor rioting on the Ohio State Campus and in the Columbus area. The Columbus Dispatch published the names, addresses and phone numbers of those Faculty Council Members who voted against the trip as well as the amount of university money that they spent on trips. While Hayes was diplomatic with some faculty members who voted against the trip and urged the students to cease complaining, Hayes did not spare his criticism of the alumni club president who led the charge against accepting the bowl bid.

The punch

Ultimately, Hayes' volatile temper ended his career. On December 29, 1978, Ohio State played in the Gator Bowl against Clemson. Late in the fourth quarter the Buckeyes were down by two points. Quarterback Art Schlichter drove the Buckeyes down the field. On third and five, rather than call a run, Hayes called a pass because Schlichter was having a great game up to that point. The pass was intercepted by Clemson nose guard Charlie Bauman, who returned it toward the OSU sideline where he was run out of bounds.

As Bauman rose to his feet and raised the ball in the air, Hayes punched Bauman in the throat. When one of Hayes' own players, offensive lineman Ken Fritz, tried to intervene, Hayes turned on him. Hayes had to be restrained by defensive coordinator George Hill. The Buckeyes were slapped with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for Hayes' punch. A still-enraged Hayes stormed onto the field, resulting in another 15-yard penalty. Bauman was not injured by Hayes' action and shrugged the incident off. Even though the game was being telecast by ABC, announcers Keith Jackson and Ara Parseghian did not comment about the punch. The incident was not in their field of view, and at that time, replay footage was relayed through the studio in New York Citymarker; they did not see the event.

After the game, OSU Athletic Director Hugh Hindman—who had played for Hayes at Miami University and had been an assistant under him for seven years—privately confronted Hayes in the Buckeye locker room. He said that he intended to tell school president Harold Enarson what happened, and strongly implied that Hayes had coached his last game at Ohio State. After a heated exchange, Hindman said he then offered Hayes a chance to resign, but Hayes refused, saying, "That would make it too easy for you. You had better go ahead and fire me." Hindman then met with Enarson at a country club near Jacksonville, and the two agreed that Hayes had to go.

The next morning, Hindman told Hayes that he had been fired. A press conference was held at the hotel where the team had been staying. The team returned to Columbus around noon, and Hayes left the airport in a police car. Enarson said that he had fired Hayes because "there isn't a university or athletic conference in this country that would permit a coach to physically assault a college athlete." After the incident, Hayes reflected on his career by saying, "Nobody despises to lose more than I do. That's got me into trouble over the years, but it also made a man of mediocre ability into a pretty good coach."

Many years later, Leonard Downie, Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post and student journalist at Ohio State, said he regretted not reporting an incident in the 1960s where Hayes instructed a player to take off his helmet and then proceeded to hit him in the head.


Hayes' lifetime record of 238-72-10 places him ninth in all-time NCAA Division I FBS coaching victories. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Famemarker in 1983.

At Hayes' funeral on March 17, 1987, former president Richard Nixon delivered the eulogy before a crowd of 1,400 acknowledging the friendship that had begun during his second term as vice president. Having met Hayes at a reception following a Buckeye win over Iowa in 1957, Nixon recalled, "I wanted to talk about football and Woody wanted to talk about foreign policy. And you know Woody. We talked about foreign policy." The following day, more than 15,000 people took part in a memorial service at Ohio Stadiummarker.

Hayes' commitment to academics at Ohio State was evidenced by his request that donations from his family, friends, and supporters be made to the academic side of the university. Following his death and in keeping with his wishes, the Wayne Woodrow Hayes Chair in National Security Studies was established at Ohio State's Mershon Center for International Security Studies. Professor John Mueller currently holds the chair. In November 1987, the university dedicated the new Woody Hayes Athletic Centermarker in his memory.

Personal life

Hayes was married to the former Anne Gross in 1942. Anne Hayes was a formidable and popular woman in her own right, who used to jokingly say at numerous sports banquets, "Divorce Woody? Never! But there were plenty of times I wanted to murder him!" The couple had one son, Steven, who went on to become a lawyer and judge. Coincidentally, the younger Hayes would be assigned to the 2003 trial of former Ohio State standout Maurice Clarett.

World War II movie host

Because of his knowledge of military history and ongoing popularity, Hayes in the early 1980s hosted the broadcast of six World War II films for WBNS-TVmarker in Columbus. (WBNS also has produced the Ohio State Football Coaches Shows since Hayes was OSU's head coach and still does today with current head coach Jim Tressel.) Among the movies broadcast were Patton, Midway, The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel, and Tora! Tora! Tora!

Hayes would also give salty historical perspectives related to each movie. Hayes' segments (depending upon the movie) were taped in such locations as Fort Knoxmarker, West Pointmarker, the USS Yorktownmarker, and Stuttgartmarker, Germanymarker, (where he interviewed Manfred Rommel, Lord Mayor of Stuttgart and the son of Erwin Rommel.)

Head coaching record

Notable quotes

  • "There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone, all that we send into the life of others comes back into our own."
  • "Even the best team, without a sound plan, can't score."
  • "Show me a gracious loser, and I'll show you a bus boy."
  • "You can never really pay back. You can only pay forward."
  • "A guy from Ohio can make it in life if he works hard enough."
  • "You win with people."
  • "That will take care of you, you son of a bitch."
  • "Paralyze resistance with persistence."
  • "There are three things that can happen when you throw a pass, and two of them are bad." This quote is often attributed to Hayes, but some contend General Robert Neyland of the University of Tennessee first said it.
  • "I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face."
  • "Discipline is 95 percent anticipation."
  • "It does not matter the size of the man, rather the amount of effort the man is willing to put forth"
  • "Without winners, there wouldn't even be any god damned civilization."
  • Upon running low on gas in southern Michigan returning from a recruiting trip "Stop for gas?! We'll push the damn car all the way to the Ohio State line before I contribute 1 penny to any business in the state of Michigan!"
  • "Football represents and embodies everything that's great about this country, because the United States of America is built on winners, not losers or people who didn't bother to play."
  • "One thing you cannot afford ever to do is to feel sorry for yourself."
  • "There was no one who had better people than I did, or better football players. And, we outworked the other teams."
  • "The only way we'd get beaten was if we got a little fat-headed, if we didn't train right, if we had dissension on the squad."
  • "So many times I've found people smarter than I was ... But you know what they couldn't do? They couldn't outwork me. They couldn't outwork me!"
  • "You can outwork anybody. Try it, you will find out that you can do it."
  • "Anything easy ain't worth a damn!"
  • "To hell with exciting. I'd rather be drab as hell and win."
  • When asked why he went for two despite a 36-point lead against Michigan, Hayes quipped, "Because I couldn't go for three."
  • "There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
  • "If anybody congratulates you, you kick them in the shin, unless it's an old lady over 80."
  • "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."

See also


  1. Lombardo, op.cit. pp.84-85
  2. Lombardo, op.cit. pp.195-197
  3. Leonard Downie Jr. regrettably recalls Woody Hayes holding interviews while naked, Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 12, 2009, Accessed February 14, 2009.
  4. Richard Oviatt, Washington Post editor Leonard Downie Jr. talks past, future, The Lantern, February 12, 2009, Accessed February 14, 2009.
  5. Lombardo, op.cit. pp.142-145
  6. Scorecard. Sports Illustrated, 1979-01-08.
  7. The New York Times, 12-31-1978, pg.S1
  8. page 383
  10. Lombardo, op.cit. p.40
  11. ESPN - Clarett case judge is Woody Hayes' son

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