Ohio State Football Coach Woody Hayes did not hear the news until he arrived at the Hollenden Hotel in Cleveland to make a speech. When reporters told him he dropped his bag and walked out. For an hour and a half he roamed the Cleveland streets, trying to compose himself. But back on the campus the Ohio State students were making no such effort to count 10. They burned members of the faculty in effigy, snake-danced down the main street, surrounded the capitol building, broke windows, besieged and insulted their professors and generally raised the most hell that has been raised in Columbus since V-J day. Over what? Over a faculty decision not to permit the football team to go to the Rose Bowl.
Such matters are not taken lightly in the capital city of Ohio and the home of the finest grind-it-out college football team in business. The local TV and radio stations, without exception, joined in the denunciation of the anti-Rose Bowl faculty members, some of them in violent terms. The Columbus Dispatch, in an act of dubious public service, printed a list of those professors voting against the joyous trip to California, complete with addresses, salaries and amounts of money spent this year on out-of-state travel at state expense. The result was that the offending professors were jeered, scowled at, browbeaten, telephoned day and night and greeted with messages in Anglo-Saxon monosyllables on blackboards all over the campus.
In a sense, the whole witches' brew seemed a contradiction in terms. Here was Ohio State University, a frankly football-minded institution which spends something like $1,300 a head to recruit good ballplayers, sends them through Woody Hayes's hard-but-clean football school, treats them like idols and gains a national reputation for football excellence. Why not carry the theme out to the end and go to the Rose Bowl?
The reason is that Ohio State is ripped and torn by an internal battle over football, a battle which has been going on for several years and will most likely continue for many more years. Ultimate control of the athletic program rests, by Big Ten law, with the faculty, and more and more the faculty has become exercised over the concept of Football √ºber Alles.
Last year a United States Senator visited the OSU campus and innocently blurted out, "I don't know much about Ohio State, but I do know you have a good football team here." Certain professors boiled. As one explained:
"We're upset over the fact that the image of Ohio State is that the school is merely an appendage to the football team. When we go away for meetings, we're kidded about this by people from other schools. We don't dislike football, but the feeling is that things are out of proportion."
Came last week and an invitation to play UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Into the Faculty Club marched 53 members of the all-powerful Faculty Council to debate the issue and make a final decision. Indignant debate raged for an hour and 25 minutes. There was a "secret" ballot, followed by University President Novice Fawcett's intonation: "28 against, 25 for." Bang. The demonstrations began.
To the amazement of followers of Ohio State's internal dogfights, the forces of law and order were led by—of all people—Woody Hayes. For years now Coach Hayes has been at the storm center of all the squabbles, laying about him right and left with strong epithets and, at least once, a rap in the chops. But this time he gained prestige by adopting what, for him, was almost a Nehru stance. "I don't agree with those 28 'no' votes," Woody told 1,000 OSU alumni at the hotel in Cleveland, "but I respect their integrity, if not their intelligence." He made it plain that he was not going to quit over the action (as had been rumored). "We have had to learn to accept defeat under pressure and that may help us now," he said, "although it is difficult to explain to the boys when, after 15 years, the Rose Bowl is jerked out from under them."
The picture of a Woody Hayes speaking moderately did not escape the notice of the diehards back in Columbus, who always had looked upon him as their General Patton. By the second day the public demonstrations began to simmer down. They came to a halt when football Co-captain Mike Ingram announced to the crowds through a police loudspeaker, "They're not going to change their minds. We might as well face it. We're not going to the Rose Bowl. Go home before somebody gets hurt." There were a few boos, whereupon husky Linebacker Ingram pulled out his last stop. "The team did all the damn work!" he said. "If they can accept the decision, you certainly can. You college kids leave and let the police pick up the high school kids hanging around." Telephone calls excepted, that was the end of anarchy in Columbus.