99 Warriors: No. 25, First Team All-American and Assistant Coach, Esco Sarkkinen

By James Grega on August 7, 2018 at 8:05 am
Esco Sarkkinen

We're counting down the days to kickoff with “99 Warriors,” the greatest Ohio State Buckeyes by jersey number, as voted by the staff of Eleven Warriors.

No. 25 Esco Sarkkinen

A consensus All-American and a longtime Ohio State assistant coach, Esco Sarkkinen was a unanimous decision for best Buckeye ever to wear No. 25.

E Esco Sarkkinen

b. April 9, 1918 (Conneaut, Ohio)
d. Feb. 28, 1998 (Columbus, Ohio)

  • First-Team All-American (1939)
  • First-Team All-Big Ten (1937, 1939)
  • Assistant Coach (1946-77)

An Ohio product, Sarkkinen played offensive end for Ohio State starting in 1937 as the Buckeyes finished 6-2, including a 21-0 win over Michigan in Ann Arbor. 

Despite being a first team All-Big Ten selection in 1937, Sarkkinen was relegated to a backup role in 1938, playing sparingly for an Ohio State team that finished 4-3-1 and lost two of its final three contests. 

Sarkkinen flourished in his senior campaign as Ohio State won the Big Ten title for just the fifth time in program history, finishing with a 6-2 record. He was named a consensus first-team All-American for his 1939 season and was selected in the fifth round of the 1940 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. His playing career in the NFL did not last, but Sarkkinen would soon return to Columbus, where he would live the rest of his life. 

Sarkkinen joined Ohio State's coaching staff in 1946 as an assistant for Paul Bixler, who lasted just one year as the Buckeye head coach, finishing 4-3-2, with a 58-6 home loss to Michigan to end the season. He was retained by Wes Fesler from 1947-50 before again being retained by Woody Hayes, whom he coached under until 1977. Sarkkinen was on Ohio State's staff for five of the eight national titles the school claims, and won 14 Big Ten titles as a coach and another as a player. 

Sarkkinen passed away at the age of 79 in 1998 in Columbus. 

Photo: Ohio State University Archives

View 23 Comments