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The 1942 Season Through The Words Of The Past, 10/11/1942

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Matt Gutridge's picture
October 11, 2017 at 6:15am

2017 is the 75th anniversary of Ohio State's first national championship season. To honor the achievement, this series will post articles from the Columbus Citizen Journal on the day they ran in 1942.

Paul Brown and USC's coach, Jeff Cravath, have words and the Buckeyes overcome a key injury to tie the series with the Trojans.

USC Coach
The play which started the argument is pictured above. Dante Lavelli, Buckeye end, is tackled on the 1-yard line after receiving a forward pass from Sarringhaus with one second left to play in the first half. Lavelli was hurt and had to be carried from the field, may be out for the season.

There were verbal brickbata and flaring tempers after yesterday's  game with the Trojans' Coach Jeff Cravath angrily charging Ohio State's Paul Brown of threatening him and his boys for playing dirty football and promising to settle with them during the second half. Coach Brown categorically denied the whole statement, called it "silly."

After the two statements had been examined the best explanation seemed to be that the word "settle" had almost caused a nasty split between the states.

It's going down when there is verbal brickbata being flung on the field. I'm hopeful that the Buckeyes weren't pulling a Christian Wilkins in Ohio Stadium.

After Half Ended

It happened immediately after the first half ended. Ohio State's Dante Lavelli had caught a forward pass inches from the goal line, had been so badly hurt that he had been carried off the field. The officials ruled that there was one second to play. Ohio State plunged, failed to score. The half ended.

Coach Brown had rushed on the field to help the injured Lavelli. After the final play, Coach Cravath ran from the sidelines and started to argue with an official.

Brown passed him and Cravath said he said, "If I were you, I'd settle for that." The Ohio State mentor later explained that he meant that if his team had stopped the opponents on the one-foot line as the half ended he wouldn't have been complaining to the officials.

If Cravath is up in arms about what Brown said, the man must have had his little feelings hurt a lot. I nominate Cravath as the first millennial of 1942.

Cravath Angry

But, after the game, Coach Cravath was mad; too angry to observe the traditionally professional outward calm of a losing team's head man. He claimed that Brown had first jumped on Kroil (spelling?) the California player who had tackled Lavelli, had later told Cravath that "I'll settle with you for that dirty tackle."

He added that there was no dirty work on the part of his team, that his "team didn't have to lay down for anybody."

Coach Cravath made the statement to newspapermen and to Governor Bricker who visited him after the game. It was soon carried to the east tower to Brown who certainly seemed surprised at the charges. 

It's Silly---Brown

"He couldn't be talking about me," said the Buckeye boss. "Why that's silly...crazy...I wouldn't even know who tackled Lavelli and I wouldn't say anything to an opposing player. Frankly, I thought Lavelli had reinjured his old charley horse and wasn't at all surprised to him get hurt. I didn't accuse anyone of playing dirty. I did make that statement to Cravath that settling for that...meaning the way the half ended, as I pass him. I didn't think anything about it."

Although Brown wouldn't comment on it, several Ohio State observers thought there had been some confused officiating in the final minute of that first half. There were some who contended that Lavelli crossed the goal line. There were others that claimed that the play stopped with 11 seconds to play instead of only one. Brown's only statement was "We didn't score on that last plunge."

To recap, in the waning seconds of the first half, Lavelli was hit hard and ruled down short of the goal line. Some thought that Lavelli scored, while others thought he was stopped with more time on the clock. 

The Buckeyes were stopped on the next play and did not score. On the way to the locker room, USC's coach, Cravath, was complaining to the refs. Brown saw this and told Cravath "If I were you, I'd settle for that." Meaning I'd settle for Ohio State not scoring at the end of the half. 

Cravath didn't hear that and thought Brown said "I'll settle with you for that dirty tackle." At the conclusion of the game, Cravath was still upset about Brown's comment and vented to the press. I wonder how Cravath would have responded if he was the coach that lost a player for the season?

Decision Explained

There were some other general complaints about the officiating, but Coach Brown cleared up one point that puzzled many fans. That was the ball mixup that happened when Horvath fumbled, a Trojan recovered, then lost the ball and a Buckeye fell on it. After quite a discussion, the officials gave the ball to Southern California.

"The decision," explained Coach Brown, "was that you can't run with the ball after you recover a fumble. The California man recovered, then started to run, then fumbled. Actually, the ball was dead at the point he first recovered. The discussion was whether he had complete possession of the ball. All Southern California men thought he did. All Ohioans though he didn't.

"That's one of those where you think you're right," grinned Brown, "and I have no complaints to make. The mistake we made was to fumble in the first place."

Brown's quote to end the paragraph reminds me of a quote I heard from Lou Holtz about a fool and a player who fumbled. 

Lavelli's Knee Bad

Lavelli's knww seem badly hurt, may keep him out for the season. Horvath received a charley horse, it is not known yet how long it will bother him. All the Buckeyes were battered up more than usual.

"I was happy to win," said Coach Brown. "It was a game in which long shot possibilities were constantly coming up. I tried quite a few times, but not as many as I did last week."

The Buckeyes coach praised the Trojans, was particularly complimentary about the way they scored their first touchdown. His personal thrill was Ohio State's final scoring play.

"I'll bet they don't know yet how Lynn got the ball," he said, and chuckled like a youngster who knows a happy secret.

Coach Cravath, of Southern California, passed out the conventional praise after he had got his one big beef off his mind. "Ohio State has a good team," he said.

Best He's Seen

"It's the finest team I've seen all year," Cravath continued, "and as far as I know it shouldn't lose a game. I may run into some better ones myself, particularly Washington State and Oregon State, but it's the best so far."

The Trojans were luckier than the Buckeyes in the matter of injuries was hurt with the exception of a few minor bumps.

Battling Buckeyes
Picture 1: Les Horvath, Buckeye halfback, was almost away when Steve Bianchi, Southern Cal. tackle, stalled him.

Picture 2: Taking a pas on the goal line End Bob Shaw skips across and scores his second touchdown.



There's a tough day ahead for Paul Brown and his Ohio State gridders next Saturday. That's not based upon the mere fact that Purdue defeated Northwestern 7-to-6 yesterday. It might be a bit tougher day had that score been reversed.

The hurdle the Buckeyes will face next Saturday is due more to surrounding circumstances than to the toughness of the opponents they'll be meeting.

The Bucks have defeated three pretty good teams in a row. They walloped a big star-studded Fort Knox team of soldiers 59-to-0. They defeated the best Indiana team in years 32-21. Then, yesterday, they defeated a good Southern California team 28-to-12.

After the game they heard, from idolizing old grads, from Bill Southworth, manager of the baseball world champion St. Louis Cardinals, from their athletic director, from Ohio's Governor Bricker, from enthused fans just how good they were.

And they were good.

That was a pretty good list of "celebrities" in attendance for the game against USC. Who do you think Urban Meyer allows in the Ohio State locker room after games? 

But I wonder if wise little Paul Brown wasn't squirming in his shoes and sweating under his collar as he heard those plaudits being handed out so freely. 

For Paul Brown knows, as does anyone else who has had close contact with athletics over a period of years, that about the time you get to thinking you're good along comes a guy who is also good but not overconfident and socks you in the mid-riff.

Then the breath goes out of you with a resounding whoosh which may be funny to hear about and delightful for a spectator to contemplate but is still sickeningly deflating to the guy being collapsed.

The Bucks have been awfully good so far this fall because they're wanted, desperately, to be awfully good.

As long as they can keep on wanting desperately to be good they can continue to be just that.

But once they start believing they are good and getting a bit complacent about it all they're liable to face is a rude awakening. 

It's too bad life has to be like that but it does---and is.

To this point, Ohio State had never won a national championship. 

Keen Edge Is Gone

Most of the hard work the Bucks have done so far this fall has been a lot of fun. They were youthful, eager, anxious for a great season when they reported.

But they've been through six weeks of grueling work now. The keen edge is off of much of it. What was a lot of fun a couple weeks back is becoming drudgery.

From here on it's a case of driving by the coaches and driving by the players themselves to keep that superb condition which has given Ohio State its edge over opponents so far this season.

It's now largely up to the players themselves.

If a Big Ten title looks like a big enough prize for them to keep on as they've started to win it isn't out of the question for them.

Their schedule is such and early season developments have been such that they can come  pretty close to attending to that little detail all by themselves from here on in.

But it's going to be a lot of work to do it. They'll have to seem to themselves to be working twice as hard as they have been. 

This observer believes they're the type of guys who'll do it and like it.

Here's hoping.

Heartfelt Thanks

In the meantime here's a heart-felt thanks to the Bucks from a long-suffering guy.

Way back in Jan. 1, 1921, he started suffering. Ohio State's team of that year took a 28-to-0 trouncing from California in the Rose Bowl.

Then, in 1937 followed the Bucks to Los Angeles and saw them lose to Southern California 13-to-12.

That's twice I made the long trek back home very sad about it all feeling that our Bucks, however good they might be, just didn't seem to have what it took in an important inter-sectional game with the eyes of the football world upon them.

Seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Then there was Southern Cal's trip here in 1938 and a 14-to-7 win for the west coast. And those Notre Dame games. And that visit to Princeton and that one to Cornell.

Last year I didn't have the satisfaction of jubiliating to in Los Angeles with the Buckeyes over that 53-to-0 win. The Red Birds had me too busy watching them lick Montreal in the Junior World Series.

But finally, yesterday, I had the satisfaction of watching the Bucks win and win convincingly in an important inter-sectional tilt.

It was a lot of fun, gang. Thanks.

I'm not sure when Lew Byrer exited this earth, but if he could hang on for another 26 years, he would see his Bucks win five championships between 1942 and '68.

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Previous Articles
FT. KNOX 9/22/42 9/23/42 9/24/42 9/25/42 9/26/42 9/27/42
INDIANA 10/1/42 10/2/42 10/3/42     10/4/42
USC 10/5/42 10/6/42 10/7/42 10/8/42 10/9/42 10/10/42

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