Each week during the football season, BuckeyeXtra.com will bring subscribers the original coverage of an event in the life of legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, taken from the archives of The Columbus Dispatch newspaper. These stories, photos and clippings predate the Internet era and are being presented in digital form for the first time.
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CONTEXT: In 1970, Ohio State was undefeated and ranked No. 5 in the AP poll when Michigan came to town ranked No. 4. Determined to avenge the loss in Ann Arbor that had ruined their perfect season in 1969, the Buckeyes broke open a close game with 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
(Originally published on November 22, 1970)Hayes salutes victory as OSU's greatest
By DICK OTTE
'This is one literally for a lifetime '
Woody Hayes read that excerpt from an anonymous good-luck telegram to his Ohio State squad before the 1970 Buckeyes went out and played what he considered the greatest game in the university's football history, beating Michigan 20-9.
Does he think his Buckeyes now deserve to be rated No. 1?
'You're damned right I do!'
Does President Nixon " who phoned the Ohio State equipment room within minutes after the victory " agree with that estimate?
'No, he didn't say that nothing political,' Hayes answered. 'But he was greatly impressed with our ball club
'I've got to feel this was our greatest victory.
'This makes up for what happened last year (losing to Michigan 24-12). This justifies in the minds of our seniors that they are the greatest group of players we ever had here. They have won 27 of 28.'
Does the 1970 club " with its 29 seniors, 17 of them regulars " surpass the OSU teams of 1969 and 1968?
'Last year's team lost a game,' said Hayes. 'The team before won them all including the Rose Bowl. We'll just have to see if this one accepts the challenge to be the greatest by matching that 1968 performance.'
Hayes said he thought Saturday's game, played before a record Ohio Stadium crowd of 87,331, may have been 'the most publicized and televised single game in college football history.'
'I know about the Notre Dame-Michigan State game in 1966. Both of those teams were unbeaten but this game had a more satisfactory outcome, didn't it? (MSU and ND played to a 10-10 tie.)
The OSU press box bulged with 616 press, radio and TV representatives, and goodly percentage jammed Hayes' interview room for a press conference that lasted close to an hour.
Hayes came off the field clutching a football, after most of his jubilant players had followed Gov. Rhodes into a noisy, wet dressing room to begin a long round of one-song singing in the showers: 'We don't give a .. We're from O-hi-o.'
Hayes came downstairs once to answer the President's phone call; and when he went back up, permitted newsmen a rare foray into the team's dressing quarters while he talked with a large group of high school prospects.
The Buckeye coach also tried to get defender Jim Stillwagon and Doug Adams to the phone, but the conversation ended as they reached the equipment room door.
Hayes posed for pictures with a finger raised in a 'We're No. 1' signal " also unprecedented for him " and started the press meeting by declaring, 'I said we would gain 250 yards rushing against them and we almost did it 243 yards or something like that.'
The coach shortly switched to one of his typical correlations between football and warfare.
Hayes was asked where he picked up the delay-type play which provided a consistent gainer for halfback Leo Hayden.
'It's a funny thing,' he recalled. 'The Japs got their plan for attacking Pearl Harbor from our own Fleet Problem No. 14 of 1934. The Germans got the tank from the British. Guess where we got that play?
'It's in my book ('Hot Line to Victory') and I got it originally from the fellow at Oklahoma (Chuck Fairbanks). But Michigan refined it. I saw it in their highlight films from last year " we bought a copy for $80 " and so we borrowed it back. I'm totally grateful. I truly relish turning an opponent's play against him.'
After some more war-sports analogies, Hayes proclaimed, 'Our defense was even better today than it has been.
'If there is a coach of the year, it should be Lou McCullough. I know that in saying that, I'll probably lose him (to some other school). But for the last three or four games, our defense has been unbelievable, dynamic. Why, they held Michigan to 30 yards 37 yards? Well, that's tremendous. Our defense is absolutely amazing.
'Their defense had been allowing only 87 yards a game. But we knew we could get some running against them. Why? Because we felt we knew how to block them.
'Rex Kern did a great job of quarterbacking '
A voice interrupted asking why Hayes did not also play Ron Maciejowski at quarterback.
Do you honestly think that's a good question?' Hayes shot back. 'You just don't change horses in midstream when someone is doing a great job.
'I am getting old. I let Rex talk me out of going for a field goal with 28 seconds left in the half. He promised me he would not be intercepted; would hit a pass along the sidelines; and get the ball out of bounds for the field goal with 8 or 10 seconds left.
'It wasn't his fault. Our players could not hear the formation called. We have had a lot of trouble hearing the starting count. Our players sometimes hear what they think is the starting count, from another source and that accounts for all the trouble we have been having with penalties for illegal procedure. I told the officials about it at halftime and again in the third quarter.'
Hayes was told Michigan coach Bo Schembechler had protested that the Bucks made an illegal substitution during the confused last few seconds before halftime, and Woody replied: 'He may have been right.'
Also on the subject of officiating, Hayes agreed with TV instant replay viewers that Bruce Jankowski had not been downed on an apparent TD pass play early in the game and that Tim Anderson did not touch a punt with the officials awarded to Michigan at midfield late in the game.
'There's no question he (Jankowski) scored on that play,' said Hayes, adding later: 'Our player absolutely did not touch the punt. He made the mental mistake of going for it, then backing off. But he did not touch it. We preach to our players never to change their mind on a play like that. Either field it or get away from it.'
Hayes also thought Michigan's easy wins the last two weeks worked to their disadvantage Saturday.
'We had to work for our last two wins and I have never had a team more ready to play than this one was today. If they hadn't got that break (fumbled opening kickoff), they would have made one of their own. They promised me, their other coaches and themselves 60 minutes of all-out dedicated football.'
Hayes said that as he tried to flee the playing field, pandemonium after the game, 'Somebody stopped in front of me and it was Bo " to shake hands. I'm not sure I would have gone looking for him in that situation. I was just trying to get out of there.
'That Michigan team is a splendid team. All year, Bo brought them along offensively. They could have gained 800 yards a game the last few weeks, if they wanted to, but our defense stopped them.'
Hayes quoted individual defensive statistics for Stillwagon, Adams, Jack Tatum, Harry Howard, Stan White and others, then said, 'You don't talk about defense in terms of one man.
'Today was the best we have ever been.'
Hayes was pressed several times to comment about Stanford, the Rose Bowl, and his travel or practice plans for Pasadena. He shrugged off most questions with 'I'll worry about that later.'
But he did admit to seeing Stanford beat Arkansas 34-28 on Sept. 12 and deciding right then to make a linebacker out of defensive end Stan White 'because he's a basketball player and we would need his size and basketball quickness against Stanford.'
'I knew we would be meeting (Jim) Plunkett in the Rose Bowl and would need a linebacker like Stan White.
'Stanford is a great football team; at least they were the day I saw them on television.
'Shucks, I bet we don't have any Standford films for me to look at tonight.
'That's all right. We really should savor this victory for a while, anyhow.'
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NOTE: Ohio State went into the Rose Bowl with a chance to claim the national championship, but lost 27-17 to the team then known as the Stanford Indians and their quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett.