Teach Your Children

By Chris Lauderback on June 18, 2012 at 11:00a
Earle went 5-4 against UM including a 23-20 win in '87

Sitting down to write on Fathers Day has me feeling bit reflective. And extremely thankful.

Like many of you, I had a father that was passionate about Woody Hayes and Ohio State football and he felt it a civic duty to ensure his son would also bleed scarlet and gray.

Though he passed when I was but 16, on a peaceful Sunday morning in April some 22 years ago, that was luckily enough time for him to teach me everything I needed to know about Buckeye football and it was our number one bond up until the day he died. 

Well, I guess that’s actually a lie. It’s still our number one bond after all these years.

I always reserve a tip of the cap or a hoist of a cold one after every big game victory especially those against Michigan. Having obviously accepted his passing a long time ago, there are still a few moments where his absence was paramount.

Having him there for the one and only national title of my lifetime would’ve been something. He had Woody. He had three titles under his belt by the time he was nine. He wasn’t old enough to truly embrace those but he had ’68 and ’70 and he would’ve lost his mind if we were able to watch Ohio State take down Miami – a school he took pride in despising – together on that magical night.

Having him there for Tressel’s magnificent run against the maize and blue would’ve ranked just as high on the list especially the ’02 and ’06 clashes with so much on the line.

It always bothered him that Ohio State wasn’t enjoying elite level success when I was coming up. With annual national title aspirations completely unrealistic save the ’79 season when I was just six, that put an even bigger emphasis on The Game.

Those Saturdays in late November are some of the best memories I have when it comes to my Dad.

He was the ringleader of a group that also had a hand in shaping my Buckeye soul. My uncle and my Dad’s two buddies racked up perfect attendance when it came to fall Saturdays and I have remained close with them all these years mostly because of our shared love of Ohio State.

As usual, we held down the living room in ’87 and although such a fate was unfathomable at the time, this was the last Ohio State victory over Michigan that we’d all watch together.

This was the last time with this group that I’d carry out my pregame chore of staging the framed 16x20 of Woody just in front of the coffee table so he could watch with us.

This was the last time with this group I’d take part in a mandated seat change to address the fact momentum had swung in favor of the Wolverines.

After seven consecutive three loss seasons, Ohio State entered Michigan week at just 5-4-1 on the heels of a three game winless streak. Famously, this is The Game in which Rick Bay, in one fell swoop, announced that Earle was being removed as Ohio State’s head coach and that he himself was resigning his post as athletic director in protest.  

This created a perfect storm for guys like my Dad who respected Bruce but felt it was time for a change. Beating Michigan trumped everything but it was viewed as a bonus that a win wouldn’t prevent a change at the top.

Looking back, I’m increasingly grateful that such a memorable version of The Game serves as the last we shared.

Despite still being a few weeks away from my 13th birthday, I remember being fully aware of the drama playing out during the week. The press strangely applauding Bay following his presser, the early chatter about who would be next in line, the shift in mindset of some fans that wanted Earle removed but struggled with how Jennings and company botched the timing making OSU look bad nationally and Bo’s crazy comments supporting Bruce and suggesting Michigan hire him.

The game itself was just as memorable with the team sporting “Earle” headbands as Bruce patrolled the sidelines in his now famous suit and fedora.

Snow's 70 yard TD gave OSU a 14-13 lead in the 3rd Qtr

The emotional high had little positive effect early as Ohio State fell into a 13-0 hole but things slowly started to fall into place.

Probably after a seat change though I can’t say for sure, Carlos Snow hauled in a pass in the left flat and raced up the left sideline 70 yards to paydirt putting OSU in front 14-13 in the 3rd quarter. This I can verify – I was all over the fact Everett Ross (he of the original axe-part and a 1st half TD reception) sprung the play with a ridiculous downfield block and calling it out before the replay earned a nod of approval.

Tied at 20 midway through the final quarter, The Game had one final memorable twist as Greg Frey subbed for an injured Tom Tupa, for one play, and hit Vince Workman for a 19 yard gain on 3rd and long to keep the game winning field goal drive alive.

As Earle was carried off the field, we all came together to hoist a victorious cheers just after I completed my postgame task of firing up the Across The Field album on the turntable. What a day.

My Dad (and Ohio State) would go on a three game losing streak leading up to his untimely death but the memory of sharing the ’87 thriller together is alive and well.

To all you dads out there, Happy Fathers Day.

Teach your children well.


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Riggins's picture

Great story, Chris.  Hope all you dads out there had a Happy Father's Day.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Excellent post, Chris. Between this piece and the article on Dan Werner (in this morning's Skully), we are reminded of what is truly important in this life. When we can combine our real priorities with love of football, all the better!
Nevertheless, fall weddings are still immoral.    

The_Lurker's picture

Best road game I ever attended. What an emotional game. I ran onto the field and danced a jig on the M at midfield afterwards in celebration. I thought about Stoneburnering on it at first but didn't like the thought of spending a night in a Michigan jail.

NC_Buckeye's picture

Chris, looks like we both lost our fathers in the same month and year. My dad also was a big Buckeye fan. He was immensely proud of the fact that two of his children were Ohio State alums. And I'm pretty sure he would have loved Tressel.
BTW, I was at Bruce's last game. Only time I've ever seen a game in the Big House. I picked a good one.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I had the pleasure of attending Earle's last game in AA.  I'll never forget watching Carlos take the screen pass 75 yards, Spielman just destroying everything that touched the ball and was wearing those ugly uniforms, and about 5000 or so of us Buckeye fans storming the field after upsetting AACC.  It was a glorious day to be a Buckeye!!!
The other thing that I remember is how much I hated that f@#$ing stadium.  We had Dick LeBeau's tickets which were front row in the end zone.  We'd obviously been drinking before and during the game and since that hideous stadium is buried into the ground, I had to walk up about a million stairs to get to the bathrooms.  When we were losing, I heard nothing but trash talk from the AACC fans and it made the walk very very very long. 
The BEST memory though was when the stadium announcer asked all the Buckeye fans to clear the field so their band could stumble through their post game gig - nothing like standing on the M at the 50 yard line and watching 10,000 middle fingers raise in a beautiful synchronizing fashion!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Joe Beale's picture

I read somewhere that Earle went back to visit Bo Schembechler in his office after the game, and when he got there young Kirk Herbstreit was sitting there talking to the Michigan coach (obviously it was a recruiting visit). Earle saw him and his blood pressure jumped up a bit and he yelled "Herbstreit, get out of here; you're going to Ohio State!" The kid scampered out quickly and the two older men had one last conversation as the head coaches in CFB's greatest rivalry before Earle turned in his block O baseball cap for good.

hodge's picture

It was also after this game that Bo uttered, "I always mind losing to Ohio State, but I don't mind so much today."
It probably had something to do with how classy Earle looked in that suit.  

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

Chris - I love this post. The only thing I'd quibble with is how Earle was regarded at that time. Your dad may have been in the minority, but Earle did not have a lot of respect among fans at the time. I was a sophomore at OSU that season and the only real issue people had was the timing of the whole thing, which seemed pretty heartless by Ed Jennings. He also completely undercut Bay, which is why Bay resigned at the same time. That said, Earle has been as good an ambassador as any Buckeye, and he's gained widespread love and acclaim for his post-coaching work.
Either way, your dad and his crew sound like great guys. I wish I could have a beer with all of you and remember the great plays in that crazy 1987 win.
Well done.

Chris Lauderback's picture

I hear you. I didn't write that very well. It wasn't so much that my Dad respected Earle because he wasn't a fan. It was more a respect for the 'office' of the Head Coach of Ohio State.

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

He was clearly a good man, your dad. Those were very trying times at OSU. Earle had "Darkest Day I" in the loss to IU (first in decades) and he had a crushing last second loss to Iowa before The Game. Add to that Woody's death, which I think was the previous spring, and you have a tough year all the way around.

Joe Beale's picture

He also completely undercut Bay, which is why Bay resigned at the same time.

That, and the fact that Bay had convinced Bruce to stay at OSU after he had been courted by Arizona the previous off-season. The offer from U of A was tempting to Bruce, because he had been a consistent winner at OSU and he felt unappreciated by the fans and the administration (read: Jennings). But in the end he chose to stay because, in his own words, "I'm a Buckeye."

TBUCK2's picture

Great article man.
My dad passed in 2002 at 92 and I begged him to start taking me to games in '67. I saw Rex, Arch and all the greats of that time thanks to my DAD making me a Buckeye. Bleeding still. My dad even introduced me to Coach Hayes at a scholarship event. Coach Hayes was a GENUINE man and had that twinkle in his eye those our age saw a lot of. Earle got shafted but he is beloved regardless by former players and current.  A good man.

Ann Arbor Buckeye's picture

Great Story Chris.  It reminds me of my own relationship with my father which was never as close as it was on football saturdays.  Luckily he was around long enough to see Tressel win the NC game.  I will always remember how supportive Tressel and his staff were when my dad was diagnosed with ASL, even sending an autographed jersey for me to give to my dad for fathers day.  Football can be a great bonding experience between father and son.

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