Encyclopedia: Ohio State

Updated: December 26, 2005, 2:47 PM ET
ESPN College Football Encyclopedia

The following is reprinted from ESPN College Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of the Game , edited by Michael MacCambridge

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Two weeks after Ohio State upset Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, a crowd of nearly 60,000 attended a ceremony at Ohio Stadium to honor the national champions. The people stood and cheered their 14-0 team during a 50-minute ceremony in 10-degree weather.1936 and is one of sport's mesmerizing moments. The drum major of "The Best Damn Band in the Land'' high-steps toward the "i" and points to a spot, and the sousaphone player steps up, doffs his hat and bows to each side of the roaring 100,000 fans crammed into Ohio Stadium. Bob Hope once dotted the "i." So did Woody Hayes. The 225-member band conducts a "Skull Session" for 13,276 fans in St. John Arena, 90 minutes before kickoff.

The band then files due south, enters the north tunnel of Ohio Stadium and is greeted like a conquering army. Since 1954, victories are celebrated with the ringing of the 2,420-pound Victory Bell, which hangs 150 feet up in the stadium's southeast tower. Win or lose, the team gathers behind head coach Jim Tressel and sings "Carmen Ohio" to the band at game's end, and the song concludes with everyone doing the "O-H-I-O" chant. "Senior Tackle'' has been conducted since 1913, and it calls for senior players to hit the tackling sled once in the final practice prior to the Michigan game. Some years, Senior Tackle is a public event; in 1996, over 20,000 came to Ohio Stadium to watch. A victory over Michigan earns every player a pair of miniature gold pants.

Best Player
Only Notre Dame has more Heisman Trophy winners than USC's and Ohio State's six each. A Buckeye, however, is the only player to win the award twice. Archie Griffin did so, despite playing at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds. The Columbus native gained 239 yards against North Carolina in his second game as a freshman, and four Rose Bowl appearances later he had a permanent place in the sport's history. Griffin used his quickness to blast out of the Power-I formation and cut back against pursuing defenders. He piled up 5,589 rushing yards, including at least 100 in an NCAA-record 31 consecutive games. Teammates called him Duckfoot for his self-described running style. Hayes called him "a better young man than he is a football player, and he's the best football player I've ever seen.'' As a senior in 1975, Griffin cast the deciding vote among teammates to name QB Cornelius Greene the team's MVP. Ohio State retired Griffin's No. 45, an unprecedented honor. He later worked 18 years in OSU's athletic department before resigning as associate athletic director to become president and CEO of the Ohio State Alumni Association.

Best Coach
Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes is a caricature for many outside of his native Ohio. He's the stompin', snortin', fire-breathin' bully who ran a caveman "three yards and a cloud of dust" offense, tormented game officials, tore up yard markers, smashed his wrist watches and went down swinging. For Buckeyes fans, Hayes was the diabetic, sentimental, emotional, charming soul who quoted philosophers and generals, worked his entire career on one-year contracts, preached discipline to his players and urged them to "pay forward" to others. Hayes last coached the Buckeyes in 1978 and died in 1987, but he remains a larger-than-life figure and a measuring stick for everything about Ohio State. He won 205 games, 13 Big Ten championships and three national titles in 28 seasons. He did so with a complex combination -- as tough, irascible, colloquial, brilliant and polarizing autocrat. "All good commanders want to die in the field,'' said Hayes, a former lieutenant commander in the Navy. In essence, he did so at the 1978 Gator Bowl. He punched Clemson noseguard Charlie Bauman after his interception sealed Ohio State's 17-15 loss. OSU president Harold Enarson fired Hayes the next day. Hayes cleaned out his office Monday morning.

Best Team
While the nation seemed unhinged by social unrest in 1968, the conservative Hayes put together a monster team devoid of individualism and fueled by old-fashioned values. He also went against his nature and started five sophomores on offense and six on defense. The "Super Sophomores" -- including quarterback Rex Kern, defensive back Jack Tatum and defensive lineman Jim Stillwagon -- powered an offense that averaged 32 points and 440 yards per game and a defense that yielded an average of 15 points and 292 yards. The Buckeyes, spurred by an early-season upset of No. 1 Purdue, rolled 9-0 through the regular season and capped the national championship with a 27-16 win over USC in the Rose Bowl. Eleven players from that team, including seven of the sophomores, earned All-America honors during their careers. Six became first-round NFL draft picks. At a 20th reunion in 1988, members of the 1968 team presented Ohio State with a $1.2 million endowment in memory of Hayes.

Biggest Game
The 2003 Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State and Miami was arguably the greatest college football game ever played -- a long, jazzy riff of controversy, breathless moments, bone-jarring hits and clutch performances. Ohio State's 31-24 double-overtime victory earned the school its fifth national championship, and its first since 1970. Freshman tailback Maurice Clarett ran five yards for the decisive TD in the second OT, then the Buckeyes' defense held on four downs from inside its own 2. The Hurricanes forced OT when Todd Sievers made a 40-yard field goal on the final play of regulation, tying the game at 17. The clutch kick was set up by Roscoe Parrish's 50-yard punt return. Trailing 24-17 in the first OT, Ohio State QB Craig Krenzel converted a fourth-and-14 play with a pass to Michael Jenkins. The Buckeyes then faced fourth and three at the Miami 5. Krenzel threw incomplete to Chris Gamble in the right corner of the end zone. Fireworks went off. The Hurricanes celebrated -- prematurely. Field judge Terry Porter, a Big 12 official, called pass interference on Miami's Glenn Sharpe, who was covering Gamble. Three plays later, Krenzel dove in from the 1 to force a second OT. "We've always had the best damn band in the land," Tressel said. "Now we've got the best damn team in the land."

Biggest Upset
Purdue was ranked No. 1 and was a 14-point favorite against an OSU team it had smashed 41-6 the previous year. The Boilermakers were averaging 41.3 points when they entered Ohio Stadium on Oct. 12, 1968, to face the No. 4-ranked Buckeyes. A then-stadium-record crowd of 84,834 saw a scoreless first half turn into a 13-0 OSU victory. "It was the greatest effort I've ever seen," Hayes said. Ted Provost intercepted Purdue QB Mike Phipps on the fourth play of the second half and returned the ball 35 yards for a touchdown. Jim Stillwagon's interception later in the third quarter set up the second Ohio State TD. The Buckeyes sacked Phipps four times and held him to 106 passing yards. Ohio State's ferocious defensive play allowed it to overcome its own three missed field goals. Purdue star tailback Leroy Keyes gained just 18 yards while OSU fullback Jim Otis ground out 144 yards. The victory catapulted the Buckeyes to No. 2 in the polls and sent them on their way to the national championship.

Hallowed Ground
Buckeye Grove sits on the east side of Ohio Stadium, and since 1934, a Buckeye tree has been planted in the spring to honor each Ohio State All-America from the previous season.

Heartbreaker
Defending national champion Ohio State took a 22-game winning streak and a No. 1 ranking to Ann Arbor, Mich., on Nov. 22, 1969. The Buckeyes had won a conference-record 17 consecutive Big Ten games, had outscored eight opponents 371-69 and had won each game that season by at least 27 points. They hadn't trailed in a game and were averaging 46 points and 512 yards of offense. Michigan's rookie coach, Bo Schembechler, a former Ohio State assistant, devised a way to defeat what some consider the greatest Buckeyes team. The Wolverines intercepted six passes and outrushed Ohio State 266-22. Michigan won 24-12, with all scoring coming in the first half. The "Ten Year War" was on.

Wildest Finish
Buckeyes QB Pandel Savic had a pass from the Northwestern 12-yard line intercepted on the apparent final play of a 1947 game. The Ohio State band, figuring the home team had lost, took the field. Northwestern, however, was penalized for having 12 men on the field. The Buckeyes then tried a reverse, but Rodney Swinehart was tackled at the 2-yard line. Northwestern was penalized for being offside. Savic then threw a TD pass to Jimmy Clark to tie the score. The Wildcats blocked Emil Moldea's point-after kick, but they were again called for offsides. Head linesman E.C. Curtis called all three penalties with time expired. Moldea's second PAT was good for a 7-6 Ohio State win.

Best Comeback
Embattled coach John Cooper, 8-8-1 in his first 17 games at Ohio State, saw his 1989 team trailing Minnesota 31-0 late in the second quarter. The visiting Buckeyes, however, scored 41 of the game's last 47 points to pull out a 41-37 victory. QB Greg Frey capped a 73-yard drive by throwing a 15-yard TD pass to flanker Jeff Graham with 51 seconds remaining.

Stadium
Ohio Stadium was feared to be too large with a capacity of 66,210 when it opened in 1922. Instead, so many fans consistently filled the concrete horseshoe that increasingly larger temporary bleachers were constructed over the years in the open south end. Permanent seats now fill that area, but people still refer to the stadium on the east bank of the Olentangy River as The Horseshoe. The stadium, on the National Register of Historic Places, is also called "the house that Harley built," in honor of Chic Harley, who became Ohio State's first three-time All-America in 1919. He was so popular that Ohio Field became too small for the crowds, causing a 1920 fund drive to build the $1.3 million Ohio Stadium. Prior to the 2001 season, a three-year, $210 million renovation project added the permanent south-end seats, along with 81 private luxury suites and over 2,600 club seats. The project lowered the field and raised capacity to 101,568.

Rival
There are urinals throughout Columbus with a Michigan "M" painted in them. "They brainwash you into hating those suckers, and then you really believe it," Ohio State linebacker Steve Tovar said. Some people won't refer to Michigan by name, instead calling it "that school up north." Hayes started that, and he's responsible for turning the annual season-ending game, first played in 1897, into pigskin Armageddon. Legend has it that Hayes once pushed his car across the state border rather than buy gasoline in Michigan. In 1974, the Ohio State coach greeted then-president Gerald Ford, a Michigan alum, at the Columbus airport. A photo of the two ran in the next day's newspaper under the caption: "Woody Hayes and Friend." Hayes tried a two-point conversion with his team leading the Wolverines 50-14 in 1968. The play failed. Asked why he'd gone for two, Hayes said: "Because they wouldn't let me go for three." Hayes' hatred and paranoia of Michigan stemmed in part from Ohio State being known as "the graveyard of coaches'' because of the Wolverines' dominance. Ohio State had 18 head coaches -- including Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Paul Brown -- in the 60 years before Hayes' arrival in 1951. Cooper went 111-43-4 at Ohio State, but was fired after the 2000 season with a 2-10-1 record against the Wolverines.

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