When the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name
He writes—not that you won or lost—but how you played the game.
—WAYNE WOODROW HAYES
Woody Hayes will be 50 years old next Valentine's Day, if he makes it, and sometimes you wonder. Football is a happy game, even in the Big Ten. Chrysanthemum sales boom, old grads have a good excuse to get squiffed, hardly anyone goes to class, and if the halfback gets a black eye his girl will kiss it. Only Woody Hayes must suffer. To him, football is less a game than a 20th century torture device, and on his own private rack, on a hundred Saturday afternoons in the vast stadiums of the Midwest, he has been subjected to agonies that would make your hair look like Harpo Marx's.
While the avalanche of sound from 80,000 hysterics rolls down upon him, he stands alone, a short, powerful man with a barrel chest and a barrel stomach. It is cold, but he wears no coat. His hands are balled fists below his shirtsleeves, and perspiration streams from beneath the old gray baseball cap with the scarlet letter O, as in O-HI-O, that he has worn so long it now seems a part of his head. He prowls the sidelines like a bear in a pit, shouting in fury at the officials, snarling in frustration at his team, at his coaches, at himself. Deprive Woody Hayes of victory and he would die, just as surely as a man in space suddenly deprived of his oxygen supply; and so, until victory is assured, Woody dies. With each Ohio State mistake, with each fumble and penalty and interception, he dies. It would be a pitiful sight were it not for one thing: at the rate at which Ohio State makes mistakes, no one should have to worry about burying Hayes for at least another 132 years.
There was a time when the thought that Woody Hayes might go on forever would have set off only limited celebration in the Big Ten. In his 11 seasons at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have behaved more like Mongols (a buckeye is a small tree or shrub of the horse chestnut family and a lousy name for a football team in the first place), spreading devastation throughout what the Big Ten, with dissent only from the Southwest, the Southeast and sometimes the Big Eight and Pacific Coast, like to call the toughest football conference in the land. Hayes has won four of the last eight Big Ten championships, including last year's. He set a record of 17 consecutive conference victories, and the Southeast may note that the Buckeyes were not playing Chattanooga and Richmond and Memphis State. In one remarkable stretch, Ohio State won 24 of 26 Big Ten games. The only losing season under Hayes came in 1959, when he tried to get fancy, a lapse that he now attributes to temporary insanity. Outside of that, Hayes has lost just nine games in the last eight years and, in one poll or another, Ohio State has three times been named the national champion. Now the Bucks are primed to win again. Success breeds its own antagonisms, and Woody Hayes would be the most surprised person in the world if the Big Ten should ever elect him Queen of the May.
But success alone can never explain the passion that Hayes has been known to arouse. You either love him or you hate him, and if you happen to be one of the few with no opinion you may just as well form one, since he probably has an opinion about you. He has an opinion about everything else. If you choose to disapprove of Woody Hayes, there is a wide selection of reasons.
He drives his players with a ferocity that would make a Marine Corps drill instructor look like Mary playing with her Iamb. The football that he coaches—the crunching up-the-middle trap and off-tackle smash—is about as inspiring as a radish. It has furnished the sport with a now-tired phrase—three yards and a cloud of dust—and so far as you can discover in Columbus, Knute Rockne, Gus Dorais and the forward pass have not yet been invented. His own faculty complains that Woody's football success is distorting the academic image of a great university, and Hayes, a professor himself, sometimes attends faculty meetings to roar denunciations of his detractors.
Reporters assigned to cover the Ohio State dressing room decide to bury their grandmothers on days when it appears that the Buckeyes might not win. If Hayes is a bad loser—he has refused to shake hands with an opposing coach who beat him—he is also a bad winner, sometimes heaping scorn and humiliation upon a defeated opponent's head. He has a temper like a toothless cat. Most damning of all, he always says what he thinks. In fact, Woody Hayes passes up more opportunities to keep his mouth shut in one year than most people do in a lifetime.
In the middle of a game he once ran 60 yards, probably a record for fat coaches, in order to accuse Big Ten officials of allowing the defense to play dirty football. "You're overofficiating the offense and letting the defense get away with murder," he snarled. "The Bible says turn the other cheek, but I'll be damned if I'll tell my kids to do that when they'll just get it fractured!"
He once banned from his practice sessions, locker room and office for two years all reporters from a magazine—this magazine, curiously enough—because of a story that led to Ohio State's being placed on probation in 1956 by the Big Ten. Admitting that the story was accurate, he remained firm: "I just don't want you SOBs around." Although not involved in the great musical chairs game of 1957, when many college coaches jumped contracts, Hayes had something to say on that subject: "Instead of blaming the coaches, they should blame the presidents of the universities who hire coaches away. They are equally at fault and the only ones in a position to control the situation."
He charged, in 1956, that Forest Evashevski had allowed the stadium grass to grow long at Iowa in order to hamper the Ohio State running attack, and he threatened to get a lawnmower and cut it himself. At a Big Ten press conference in Chicago, he was first on the schedule to give a rundown of his team's prospects for the season ahead. When Hayes stopped speaking, all the other conference coaches, stood up and left. Hayes had covered each team in the Big Ten so thoroughly that there was no more to be said.
He beat Southern California 20-7 in the 1955 Rose Bowl game, then told the local press corps that at least four other Big Ten teams could have done as well. "He was probably right," another Big Ten coach agreed, "but he might have been more tactful." Tact is the last thing the state of California seems to arouse in Woody Hayes. Before the '58 Rose Bowl game, both Ohio State and Oregon warmed up in the end zones to save wear and tear on the rain-soaked field. When the bands were allowed to march on this same field just before kickoff, the residents of Pasadena thought that it had begun to thunder again. Hayes hasn't cared a great deal for bands since. Nor for Southern California's assessment of its climate. "They should have covered that field. They never admit it's going to rain out there," he said.
After the 17-0 loss to USC in '59 he was less than gentle with one West Coast reporter. "He slugged me," the newspaperman claimed. "I just barely brushed him," said Hayes. "Well," said one of the Ohio State assistants, "you might say that Woody showed him to the door."
Not even sportswriters infuriate Hayes quite so much, however, as an athlete who fails to play up to his maximum ability. At an Ohio State basketball game during the time of Frank Howard, the All-America behemoth who now plays right field, in a manner of speaking, for the Dodgers, Hayes was sitting with members of his football squad in the stands. He decided that Howard wasn't putting out. "He got madder and madder," one of the players remembers, "until finally he jumped up and ordered us all out of the arena. 'I'm not going to let you watch this,' he said. He took us outside and lectured us for an hour and a half on always trying to do our best."
Two years ago, as a spectator at a game in Cleveland between the Indians and Yankees, Hayes suffered through the one-handed artistry of Vic Power at first base until he could stand it no more. "You're showing off," Hayes yelled from his box near the Indian dugout. "Why don't you use both hands and help your team win?" Power, whose ears are as good as his hands, dropped over and invited Mr. Hayes to discuss the matter further after the game; Hayes, probably figuring that much of the 230 pounds he carries these days is relatively useless in hand-to-hand combat, went home instead. He didn't go back to watch the Indians again until they traded Power to Minnesota. "That guy makes me sick," he says. "What's he got two hands for?"
The man who can make Woody Hayes sickest of all is the archenemy, Jack Fullen, alumni secretary at Ohio State. Fullen once proposed that the school give up all pretense at amateurism, hire a professional team and control it under a bureau of football. Hayes feels that Fullen has been trying to get him fired for years; he can understand this well enough, since he would like to get Fullen fired and is currently engaged in a campaign to accomplish just that. What makes him furious is that in the process he thinks Fullen is sabotaging Ohio State football.
Through the years, Hayes has been in more scraps with opposing coaches, officials, reporters, university administrators, alumni and fans than he can count, if he bothers to count at all. He has not changed a whisker in all this time, but a strange thing has happened: the people around Woody Hayes are beginning to change. A former assistant, Rix Yard, once said, "Woody sticks to what he believes is right, even when it's wrong." In retrospect he has proved to be wrong so seldom (at least about football) that a slew of people who once opposed him are now on his side. He is suddenly in danger of becoming one of the most popular men in all Ohio, a fate that horrifies Hayes no end. "I'm not trying to win a popularity poll," he growls. "I'm trying to win football games. I don't like popular people. I like tough, honest people." Apparently others do, too.
Hayes grew up in Newcomerstown, Ohio, where his father was superintendent of schools, and he played tackle three seasons for Denison University in Granville. He received a master's degree from Ohio State and coached in high schools at Mingo Junction and New Philadelphia before going off to command a destroyer escort during World War II. As the head coach at Denison in 1946-48 he won 18 games in a row; at Miami University in 1950 he won eight of nine and beat Arizona State in the Salad Bowl. In 1951 he became head coach at Ohio State.
In the years preceding Hayes, some very good football coaches had fled this job like rabbits, unable to stand the ridicule, the abuse, the unremitting pressure to win every game. The last of these was Wes Fesler, a sensitive, kindly man who lost seven games in three years. When Fesler's wife began to shudder every time the telephone rang, he decided to retreat, too. The telephone was unlisted, but this hardly slowed down the Columbus fans.
"Not one big-time coach was interested in coming to Ohio State," says Hayes. "They approached Earl Blaik and Don Faurot, and a number of others. Blaik wouldn't even listen. So they hired me."
At first they laid odds in downtown Columbus on how long this new guy would last. Then they began to find out things about Woody Hayes. Criticism had about as much effect on his hide as a spitball against a charging rhinoceros. For a man who was virtually a recluse, he was the most compelling speaker since Daniel Webster reclaimed a soul from the devil. "If this guy can coach as well as he can talk," said one dazed alumnus after a speech, "we're going to have a hell of a football team." Woody Hayes, they soon discovered, could coach.
"I get along fine with the fans," Hayes says. "They want to win, and I can understand that. So do I. That's the idea of this game. The only idea. Anyway, I'm just a little bit meaner than they are." His telephone number has always been in the Columbus directory.
The sincerity that flows out of Hayes like beer from a barrel and the absolute honesty of the man have made him one of the most spectacular recruiters in college football. Ohio State is the only Big Ten school in Ohio and sits smack in the middle of what Michigan State's Duffy Daugherty calls "the most fertile talent area in the Big Ten." This area Hayes covers like a midwestern blizzard, charming parents, preaching the advantages of Ohio State, looking for what he calls "the quality boys." He is the first to admit that a great deal of his coaching success reflects the type of boy that he gets.
"We concentrate on character," he says with the slight lisp that sometimes startles you, coming as it does from such a tough man. "We talk to their parents, their teachers, their principals, coaches, ministers, priests. If a kid doesn't have character, you don't have a chance."
Jim Parker, the all-league guard of the Baltimore Colts, went to Ohio State after being interviewed, as he says, "by about 25 major colleges and I don't know how many minor ones. I was promised the moon by some. Woody didn't promise me the moon. He told me, 'You don't get anything on a silver platter here,' and I didn't. But I sent my brother AI to Ohio State after I left so he could be coached by Woody, and I want my son to learn football under him, too."
"Woody gets the good material," says Jerry Burns of Iowa, "and he never misuses it."
Most of Ohio State's recruiting competition comes from the service academies and the Ivy League, but Hayes gets more than 50% of the good Ohio boys, the ones that he really wants, the exceptionally gifted athletes. Of the 132 boys on his three Rose Bowl squads—Woody considers last season a Rose Bowl year, too, since the team was invited although not permitted to go—128 were from Ohio. "Ohio boys have more loyalty to the school and the state," he says. "It seems to work out well."
He believes that good students make good football players, but he is worried about the future of the Negro in the conference. "If we're not careful," he says, "these rules we have now are going to eliminate about 80% of the Negro boys. No one questions their intelligence; it's their educational background that slows them down. Just because Ohio high schools are integrated doesn't mean that all are academically equal. Some schools are in areas made up almost entirely of Negro families. Those schools just aren't as good, and the boys don't have the preparation.
"Outside of that, the only problem I ever had with Negro football players at Ohio State was in 1959. We lost five ball games that year because we didn't have enough of them. They're great athletes and they're great kids. If those southern schools had a few of them at halfback I don't think the defensive records would look quite so good down there. I hope we never legislate Negro football players out of the Big Ten."
Football has been Hayes's life, and since he is not a religious man it may be the closest thing to a God that he has. But running a close second is the deep feeling that he has for education, a feeling that was planted early in life by his father, who never went to high school but earned a college degree and became an educator. Hayes, in fact, considers himself first of all a teacher. "What do you think a coach is?" he asks. "Why, we teach a boy more in two months than some professors do in three years."
While talk of education sounds hypocritical on the lips of some coaches, no one can question Hayes's sincerity on the subject. "I've never heard him talk about how many All-Americas he's had, or how many undefeated teams," says another Big Ten coach, "but he'll drive you crazy telling you about all his boys who have become doctors and lawyers and dentists and engineers."
"He never let me forget that I was at Ohio State for an education first and to play football second," says Jim Parker. Dick Schafrath, the 260-pound tackle of the Cleveland Browns, grins when he remembers his last meeting with Woody. "You know the first thing he told me? 'You still need a semester to complete that degree. You'd better get back here and finish up,' he said."
"I don't guess there is anything that I believe in more than this university and the value of the education that a boy receives here," says Hayes. "If I can convince my kids of what a degree means to them, then I don't have to worry about them quitting school, I don't have to worry about any of them getting involved in this damned bribe business that almost ruined basketball. I show them the statistics: a college degree is now worth about $180,000 over a working lifetime.
"Of the 27 freshmen who came here on football scholarships in the fall of 1959, 24 will be around this fall. Normally you can expect 40% of the students entering a big university to graduate. On the Ohio State football squad we graduate 70% to 80%. How can anyone condemn college football when they see a figure like that?
"When I came here 11 years ago I was determined that you don't cheat the kid who plays football for you. You see those two buildings?" and Hayes waves at the gleaming mass of steel and concrete that is St. John Arena and at the huge field house sprawling alongside. "They cost $5.5 million to build. Where did the money come from? From these kids on the football team. They earned it. Football is a $2 million business at Ohio State—which means that the 22 boys on the starting team bring in almost $100,000 apiece in gate receipts each year. Think of that. And what do they get in return? Well, we're not going to cheat and give them a slice of the melon or anything else illegal, you can bet on that. What they get is $1,300 a year in room, board, tuition and books—the opportunity to get an education. And I'm going to see that they get that education. We certainly owe them that."
If Hayes feels that the university has a responsibility to the boy, he also feels that the boy owes something to the university. This payment he extracts, often in Churchillian terms, on the football field. When Woody Hayes gets through conditioning a team for the season ahead, it could probably beat the Washington eight-oared crew rowing a Roman galley.
"I hope I work my teams harder than anyone else," he says. "I sure hope so. I try hard enough." How the players feel about this, he doesn't know. "Frankly," he says, "I don't give a damn." Instead of sending boys away from Ohio State like a flock of pigeons, this treatment nails them to the campus—and to Hayes—in some manner incomprehensible to the normal jellied soul. Under his lash, boys who would faint at the thought of walking to the grocery at their parents' request run a mile in full football equipment in less than six minutes flat; if they don't, they keep running until they learn how. Eventually the relationship between Hayes and his players reaches a state bordering upon the spiritual, Mike Ingram, last year's co-captain, who ran his first mile in 7:40—he is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 220 pounds—and his last one in 5:40, calls Woody Hayes "the fairest guy I've ever known." Tom Perdue asked Woody to be his best man. Hopalong Cassady, still considered by Woody the best football player he ever coached ("He put out 100% on every play," says Hayes, offering his greatest tribute), points out that the man is a rarity among coaches, if for no other reason than that "he goes all out for you after you graduate. If he can help out when something happens, he'll be there."
It happened to Vic Janowicz after an automobile accident on the West Coast had ended his professional career. "I was in a Chicago hospital, recuperating but not well," says Janowicz. "Ohio State was playing Northwestern, and Woody asked me to dinner. 'You look terrible,' he said, I guess I did; it seems to me that I wasn't getting the proper treatment. So Woody made arrangements for me to return to Columbus on the team plane. He put me in University Hospital and kept me there for a month of physical therapy. It was the turning point for me, the start of a new life."
Bob Vogel is a very large, blond young man who may be one of the two best tackles in America this fall; the other is his teammate, Daryl Sanders. Vogel has survived two years of Woody Hayes and, like a man who has become fond of hitting himself on the head with a hammer, looks forward to a third. "Playing for him is a challenge," Vogel grins. "If you get through his preseason two-a-day workouts, you get the feeling that you can handle most of the other things you are going to run into in life."
Hayes sees nothing unusual in this stoic acceptance of his coaching. "The boys seem to welcome discipline," he says. "Success is the only motivational factor that a boy with character needs. When he sees that he's getting in shape, that all this work is good for him, then he doesn't grouse about it anymore. He begins to drive himself. Hell, he wants to win as much as I do. There's a lot of silly talk about building character in college football—and I happen to believe in it. In our society there aren't too many tough things that a boy can do anymore. Football is one of the few. He has to whip that guy across from him and he has to do it as a member of a team, playing within the rules. But a coach doesn't go out to build character, he goes out to win. The character will take care of itself."
The only other thing Woody Hayes demands of his players, besides condition and character, is perfection. So far it has eluded him, though opposing coaches agree that his boys sometimes perform the fundamentals of the game so well that it frightens them. "No one comes close to him in coaching blocking and tackling," says Minnesota's Murray Warmath. "You always know what his teams are going to do," says Jerry Burns, "so you set your defense to stop them. But they do what they do well enough and often enough to beat you. They know how to block, and carry out assignments."
Actually, Hayes has a theory that the only team that can beat Ohio State is Ohio State. "Eliminate the mistakes in football," he says, "and you'll never lose a game." As a result, an Ohio State practice session looks like a day in the salt mines. "We're not out here to laugh," Woody says.
An official, in uniform, stands over every play, whistle in mouth, red handkerchief in hand. When he spots a boy beating the snap count, when he detects holding on a block, when he sees a rule infraction of any kind, he blows and throws. This discourages sloppy practice habits and contributes to the Buckeye record of leading the Big Ten in fewest penalties in most years. Hayes does not approve of fumbles, either. "No back in the history of football was ever worth two fumbles a game," he says. If an Ohio State player fumbles twice in practice he has to run a mile to the Olentangy River dike. If he fumbles in a game, he might just as well jump in.
"To eliminate mistakes you have to pick the right quarterback," says Hayes. "That's why I may keep a superior passer on the bench and play a boy who is less spectacular but steady and sure. The five big mistakes in football are the fumble, the interception, the penalty, the badly called play, the blocked punt—and most of these originate with the quarterback. Find a mistake-proof quarterback and you have this game won."
Hayes does not necessarily consider a pass, in itself, a mistake, as has been charged, but he feels that a football in the air only too often winds up in the wrong hands. "The pass is still primarily a weapon of surprise," he says. "Your first pass play in a game should succeed 75% to 80% of the time. The second attempt should succeed 60%. The third time you run that same pass play, watch out. Interception."
At Iowa in 1958 the Buckeyes beat the Hawkeyes 38-28 in a football game that many people—including Forest Evashevski and Woody Hayes—consider one of the most exciting ever played. Randy Duncan and Iowa threw 33 passes that afternoon, completing 23 of them for 249 yards and a Big Ten record. Ohio State threw exactly two—but gained 397 yards on the ground. "When you get fancy, you get beat," said Hayes, after the game. Evashevski, who had already won the Big Ten championship, just shook his head.
The Ohio State offensive unit may devote 50% of its practice time to the famous off-tackle play, No. 26. "It may be Right 26 or Left 26 or Bingo 26 or Double 26," says Hayes, "but it's still 26. We run it until we get it right. Then, in only 3% more time, we can teach the quarterback keep wide off this same play, and with 5% more time than that, half a dozen pass patterns that begin the same way.
"Actually, we work very little in complete teams. We spend most of the time with the individual or small unit. Today you coach the individual. The greatest improvement in football has been not in the plays themselves but in coaching the plays. And how a boy is taught is far more important than what he is taught. The game of football is one of strategy and tactics. Compared to the strategy of football, tactics on the field amount almost to nothing. A fleabite."
The primary Ohio State tactic is to run a play until the opponents are crushed flat or else get bored and go away. Last fall Hayes sent his All-America fullback, Bob Ferguson, into the TCU line 36 times, which may be a bad example, since TCU tied the Buckeyes 7-7 and Hayes doesn't like to remember that. Usually Ohio State will probe and test the other team until it finds a weakness. "When we are stopped," says Hayes, "we don't go to another play. We change the blocking angles in the line until the play works. Maybe that is why we don't look very spectacular early in the game. But we look pretty spectacular sometimes in the fourth quarter."
"Just when you think that two-three-four yard offense is dull," says Duffy Daugherty, "he burns you with a 50-yard breakaway. Woody is primarily an offensive coach—he believes you should score—but in recent years he has paid more attention to his defense. Now his defense is dull, too, but it works."
Woody Hayes's contributions to the game of football do not stop with winning games and boring spectators on a Saturday afternoon. He has been one of the leaders in the study of injury prevention, developing something of a mania on this subject, just as on most others in which he gets involved. Ohio State takes a preseason electroencephalogram of each player, for comparison if a head injury should occur later. "This is sometimes the difference between spotting something dangerous and ignoring it until it is too late," he says. His players undergo a series of neck exercises that play havoc with collar sizes but increase resistance to head blows to a marked degree. In the spring practice of 1962 not one Ohio State football player was even dazed from a blow on the head, and they do not play patty-cake in an Ohio State scrimmage even in the spring.
If Ohio State were not such a rich market for equipment manufacturers, their salesmen would never go near the place. Hayes drives them wild with demands for better helmets, better pads, better uniforms. For two years his boys have been wearing a plastic helmet cushioned on the outside, to protect others, as well as on the inside. "Of course this outside padding isn't doing us much good," he grumbles. "Everyone should use it."
The Buckeyes frequently change uniforms halfway through a hot early-season game or practice to avoid a form of heat prostration known as water-blanket suffocation. Hayes has even plotted the area of greatest incidence of knee injuries—it is an arc 20 yards laterally from the point where the ball is positioned to start play—and says this is another reason why his teams run inside the ends most of the time. "You don't get hurt," he says, "when you run straight ahead." Even when an Ohio State halfback gets loose, he is instructed not to hug the sidelines but to stay at least a yard inside the field. When penned in, the runner has room to ride with, and better absorb, a hard side tackle.
"We're so far ahead of other schools in the matter of protecting our players that it's pitiful," Hayes says. Last season only two Ohio State boys were unable to start games because of injuries.
No Ohio State football player ever drops out of school because of lack of funds, either, if Woody Hayes can help it. The 1956 probation came about because Hayes was helping some destitute athletes out of his own pocket, a well-intentioned practice that happened to be at variance with the conference rules. "We've got to do something to help those kids," Hayes roared. "One of those boys came to me and said he had only one pair of pants. 'Can't you get a loan?' I asked him. 'I tried,' he said, 'They told me it would take four months.' Hell, a pair of pants can get to be awfully dirty in four months. Sure I gave him the money." Hayes roared so loud, in fact, that the Big Ten authorized conference schools to set up loan funds that now furnish needed financial assistance almost immediately.
Money apparently means nothing to Hayes. His salary is $20,000 a year, and on at least two occasions he has turned down raises, requesting that the money be split up among his coaching staff. Once he refused a new Cadillac after a winning season. He lives in a pleasant two-story house in a quiet residential section five minutes away from the campus by Chevrolet; it is the same house into which he moved upon arriving in Columbus more than 11 years ago. The drive needs a new surface, but Hayes figures that he will do it himself, with the help of Steve, his 16-year-old son, who would rather play baseball or go swimming or bowl than play football or pave driveways. Hayes's wife, Anne, plays bridge and belongs to things; she also answers the telephone and placates the furious fans who call and ask why in the name of Robert Taft doesn't Ohio State throw a pass once in a while. "I love 'em," Anne Hayes says. "You can't blame people for getting mad, but you can't let them stay that way. Sometimes I ask them to come on over and have a cup of coffee and we'll talk this all out. It breaks them up."
There is nothing unusual about a coach being dedicated to his job—it would be highly unusual if he weren't—and still successful, these days, but Hayes spends more time at football than most. In fact he spends all of his time at football. "He doesn't play cards, he doesn't play golf, he doesn't fish," said one assistant, thinking hard. "He doesn't smoke, he doesn't drink. You know, now that I think about it, he doesn't do anything at all." Actually Hayes plays handball once in a while, trying to stay under 230, and although he knows little about golf, he will drive halfway across the country to follow Jack Nicklaus around a big tournament. "The boy grew up just around the corner," Hayes says. "You listen to Woody," a friend says, "and you'd think he taught Nicklaus all he knows about the game."
Most of Hayes's time away from the practice field, his office and home is spent at football clinics, where he is in constant demand. He reads a great deal—history, economics, current events—and is a nonstop talker on all these subjects. Forest Evashevski once walked up to Hayes to congratulate him after a game. "I wanted to tell him what a great game Ohio played," says Evashevski, "but I made the mistake of asking him what time it was. I never got another word in; he spent 30 minutes telling me about his new watch."
Last spring an Ohio State alumnus named Ed Garman invited Hayes to make the annual Memorial Day address at Oakwood Cemetery in Cuyahoga Falls, a rather unusual request for a football coach. Hayes couldn't get there fast enough. "It was the biggest crowd in history," says Garman, "and for 35 minutes they didn't move a muscle while Woody talked to them, without notes, about what this country means to all of us. They were spellbound. Later he thanked me for the chance."
But the greatest speech that Woody Hayes ever made was delivered before an Ohio State alumni group last fall at the Hollenden Hotel in Cleveland. Arriving from the airport. Hayes was met in the hotel lobby by reporters. "The Ohio State Faculty Council has just voted 28 to 25 against letting the team go to the Rose Bowl," he was told. Hayes dropped his bag and walked out. For two hours he paced the streets alone, thinking what this meant to his players, who had been working for the championship and trip for four years, thinking what the decision meant to the Ohio State fans, to the school, to himself. When he finally arrived at the speaker's platform, he was remarkably composed, for Woody Hayes.
"I don't agree with those 28 no votes," he said, "but I respect the integrity of the men who cast them, if not their intelligence. I would not want football to drive a line of cleavage in our university. Football is not worth that."
Not everyone has fallen in love with Woody Hayes, even yet. He still pops off, he has a terrible temper, and defeat, when and if it comes, will jar him as before. This season he may not throw even one pass. But the old joke—"The football team should have a university of which it can be proud"—does not sound so absurd now.