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What Would Woody Do? And Did Upon Notice of Termination?

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ChristianHaven's picture
August 17, 2018 at 11:00pm
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Given the current turmoil over head coach Urban Meyer at Ohio State and the upcoming unveiling of a statue of legendary Woody Hayes in his home town tomorrow, here is a look at how Woody Hayes in a different time handled pending termination-- man to man:

Hayes was coming off only the second losing season he would face as a coach. Sports writers were criticizing him. A plane had circled Ohio Stadium carrying the banner, "Goodbye Woody." On game days pennants bearing the same message were sold on the Oval at the center of campus. Fans sang to the tune of the alma mater, "Carmen Ohio":

     Oh, come let us sing Ohio's praise,
     And say goodbye to Woody Hayes.

Booster donations, always a barometer of a coach's future, were down $500,000 that year.  Hayes was hanged in effigy, and at one rally players attended, the effigy was burned.

As if this weren't unsettling enough, there were volatile behind the scenes issues, too. Hayes' famous temper had erupted in the Iowa game during the 1966 season.  He hit an Iowa player on the sideline. Or grabbed him. Or something. It wasn't captured on television or film.  It didn't make the newspapers. It happened so quickly that many inside the team didn't even know about it, or think anything of it, because everyone on the inside knew Hayes' fists could be fast.

It was news however to prominent university officials.  Athletic director Dick Larkins entered the football office the following Monday morning and met with much of the coaching staff. He didn't bother to take off his coat.  He was shaking, he was so nervous.

"Woody," Larkins said, "the Athletic Council has met and asked for your resignation."

Hayes didn't flinch.  "Is that all you have?" he asked.

Larkins nodded.

"Okay, you go back to the Athletic Council, tell them I'm not resigning and that they're wasting my time," Hayes said.

Larry Catuzzi, a young assistant, observed the give-and-take across the table that morning in silent shock. But what happened when Larkins left and apparently took the news back to the Athletic Council was even more stunning: Nothing. No firing. No resignation. No mention of it again to the staff. Nothing but business as usual.

(Excerpt from page 6 of 1968: The Year that Saved Ohio State Football by David Hyde.)  I highly recommend the book to all Buckeye fans.

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