All for One and One for None

By DJ Byrnes on December 18, 2013 at 2:40p
Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Woody Hayes eventually got a statue, but the fire-breathing Ohio State legend never got to be bigger than Ohio State.

Sure, Woody Hayes had won multiple national titles and restored Ohio State football to its rightful place among the nation's elite, but in the end, the old man had to be shown the door for sticking Charlie Bauman's thieving ass (and knocking some sense into the lad) on national television. 

In 2013, Woody's haymaker might be the subject of banter and wistful nostalgia — I happen to think it was awesome — but it was definitely conduct unbecoming. Moreover, it damaged the Ohio State brand, and nobody, not even a national title-winning coach, is above the brand.

In many ways, it set a precedent that echoes today. It's a policy that's had its awkward/darker moments to be sure, but it's a policy probably for the best.

Almost 30 years after Woody stalked the Ohio State sidelines, it was a lesson ham-fistedly taught to the polar opposite of Woody Hayes: a broke black kid from Youngstown who happened to be a dynamo when holding a football.

As ESPN's Youngstown Boys reminded us, there were people both inside and outside the program who perceived Maurice Clarett as being a little too big for his britches. Maurice, by his own admission, was largely responsible for his ill-fortune, but it didn't seem to me Ohio State (or even Jim Tressel) went out of their way to throw the dude a vine while he was sinking in quicksand.

And that's because nobody gets to be bigger than Ohio State.

A few years later, ironically enough, Jim Tressel would have to be taught a lesson he already knew. When Tatgate initially broke, Ohio State trotted out "the Tat Five" and made them apologize to the nation. (Maybe the last press conference of its kind?) When it was revealed Jim Tressel not only lied to NCAA investigators about when he knew about the allegations, but also played ineligible players... Jim Tressel handed in his resignation.

The Vest could have fought for his job or more-than-likely torched the program to the ground with one phone call, but he committed seppuku instead. Why? Because Jim Tressel is a good soldier, and he already knew.

E. Gordon GeeGordon Gee smirks at rappers' petty attempts to make it rain.

And this policy doesn't just extend to football. Look at E. Gordon Gee — the billion dollar rainmaker — for proof on that.

Sure, Gordon Gee had been known to lodge his foot in his mouth from time to time, but when off-color jokes were leaked to the press six months after the fact that created a media uproar of concern trolling, Gordon Gee was trotted out in front of the press, forced to apologize and forced into counseling and semi-retirement. 

In the end, where does this get Ohio State? Well, after a season capstoned by a blowout loss to Will Muschamp and Florida in the 2012 Gator Bowl, Ohio State went out and got a national title-winning coach to ultimately replace their fallen national title-winning coach. The next man up, as they say.

(The boom of construction and burgeoning Wexner Medical Center on Ohio State's campus lets you know how they're doing on the business side of things.)

And if Urban Meyer were to win four titles in the next decade — PLEASE MAKE IT SO — Ohio State will never be held hostage by his decaying corpse cloying to hope the 2039 recruiting class is the one to finally get things back on the right track. 

At Ohio State, you're either producing results for the team (see: Bruce, Earle; Cooper, John) and acting in according fashion (see: Wayne, Hayes; Tressel, James), or you'll be replaced by somebody who will. It doesn't matter if you're the student smoking weed and playing video games instead of going to class. It doesn't matter if you're the championship-hoarding coach, renegade booster or billion dollar fundraiser. Ohio State can replace you, and they will if you make them.

The results, again, are something with which it's hard to argue. Ohio State has stayed winning. All the figures mentioned are still beloved by Ohio State and the Buckeye faithful, but none of them got to be bigger than the process.

No individual is, after all, and that's probably for the best.


Comments Show All Comments

osu07asu10's picture

I've long known this as a fan, with Woody, but also experienced it first hand. Won't go into specifics, but the athletic department very much so has an attitude of "You're one of us,...until you're not". I watched it play out to numerous individuals and then experienced it.
If you're in good graces, they'll fight for you and protect you, but if you aren't, like DJ said, nobody is tossing you a vine, they won't piss on you if you were on fire.
That  being said, DJ also brings up a very valid point, these individuals (myself included) put themselves in precarious situations that forced the university's hand. You can't blame the institution for your own poor actions. It took me awhile to reconcile with that thought, but when I did I knew the ultimate message was clear, that I was held accountable for my actions and to be better moving forward.
EDIT: Go Bucks!!

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

DJ Byrnes's picture

Scoreboard says what it does, that game wasn't close.

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

prdoctor's picture

It WAS ugly, but a blowout? Seven points is seven points. You're risking injury putting a spin that wicked on it.
I'm picking at nits here, though - I love ya, DJ.

DJ Byrnes's picture


Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

gwalther's picture

Didn't watch. Very happy with my decision.

Class of 2008

RedQueenRace's picture

The scoreboard doesn't say that the Gator's picked up 14 points from special teams (blocked punt and kickoff returns for TDs).

Hovenaut's picture

Nice read.
I was too young to recall the fallout after the '78 Gator Bowl, but I do remember events in State College, PA just a couple of years ago. I don't mean to downplay or disregard the horrible crimes committed, but it was clear to me that Joe Paterno in the his final years as head coach exemplified how detrimental an individual bigger than the process can be.

00Buck's picture

I lived during those days of drival, and I recall my emotions when it happened, I ask my wife  Cmon babe tell me Woody didn't just punch that dude, the loss was bad (as was the MSU) but the insult added to the injury......  and the Columbus Dispatch and the Citizen Journal did not let up till way into the summer.......... I was more embarrased at the press for keeping the incident alive, than for Woody just wanting to put it behind them, but it was not something new, as just a few years before Tom Darden of TTUN interferred with a Buckeye receiver and intercepted a pass, and FLAT GOT AWAY WITH IT........  But ol Woody stepped up, and like the song says  'OUR HONOR TO DEFEND, WE WILL FIGHT TO THE END"   and thus comes the legacy of Wayne Woodrow Hayes,  a man whom I PERSONALLY will love and charish till my last breath...... p.s. IF YOU DON'T FIGHT YOU AINT A BUCKEYE ...... 

Upon this Rock, I build my house....and Let no man put asunder

45has2's picture

Woody would be the first to tell anyone that nobody is bigger than The Ohio State University. And that is no different than Microsoft, Apple, Ford or any other large institution. As long as you are performing at a high level and not drawing undue attention to the organization, it's all good. Screw the pooch and goodbye, Mr. Chips.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Seattle Linga's picture

Just a little too young to really appreciate what Woody did but some of the stories I have heard are fantastic.

osubuckeye4life's picture

I have a painting of Woody hanging above a large panoramic framed picture of Ohio Stadium seconds before kick off back in '06. I have had the Hayes picture hanging up in all the places I've lived in the past years. I will continue to hang that picture no matter where I live. RIP Woody