Jack Park, a leading Ohio State football historian, checks in each week during the college football season with a retrospective about the Buckeyes.

Ohio State will entertain Army Saturday afternoon with a rare 4:30 p.m. kickoff at Ohio Stadium. This will be the very first meeting between the Buckeyes and the Black Knights of the Hudson.

Army football was at its strongest between 1941 and 1958 under the leadership of head coach Earl “Red” Blaik, who grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and graduated from Dayton Steele High School in 1914. He graduated from Miami (Ohio) in 1918, where he lettered in three sports. With World War I raging, Blaik won an appointment to West Point where he played football for the Black Knights and graduated in 1920.

After spending approximately 10 years working for his father’s home building business in Dayton, Blaik accepted an offer to became head football coach at Dartmouth College in 1934. He immediately changed the culture of the Dartmouth program from a “spirit of good fellowship with an emphasis clearly on having fun to discipline, sacrifice, subordination.” Under Blaik the Green Wave became an Ivy League power with a seven-year record of 45-15-4 through 1940.

In 1941 he returned to West Point as head coach of the struggling Army football program. The turnaround started immediately. Blaik guided Army through the 1958 season with an 18-year record of 121-33-10. Six of his teams were undefeated, and his 1944, 1945 and 1946 squads captured consecutive national titles. Blaik never had a losing season at West Point. Blaik was very stern and disciplined, and was nicknamed “The Colonel” by his players.

With a record of 9-0, Ohio State placed second to Army in the final Associated Press poll of 1944. That season quarterback Les Horvath became the Buckeyes’ first Heisman Trophy winner. Placing second and third that season were Army’s Glenn Davis (halfback) and Doc Blanchard (fullback), respectively. Blanchard would win the Heisman Trophy in 1945 and Davis repeated the honor in 1946. Blanchard was a powerful runner and Davis had great speed – together they were admirably known as “Mr. Inside” and “Mr. Outside.”

Blaik coached a third Heisman Trophy winner in 1958 - halfback Pete Dawkins who led the Black Knights to a record of 8-0-1. Army finished third in that season’s final Associated Press poll.

Michigan and Army often played during the Blaik years. He became the first college coach to direct his team to victories the first five times his teams faced the Wolverines. Urban Meyer has equaled that record with five straight wins over Michigan during his first five seasons at Ohio State from 2012 through 2016. Meyer will have an opportunity to establish a record six triumphs when Ohio State plays at Michigan on November 25.

Blaik also went through a very trying period at West Point that became known as the “cheating scandal.” In August of 1951, 90 cadets were expelled for breaking the academy’s “honor code.” Examination questions were often provided to selected cadets ahead of the tests. Thirty-seven of the 90 disqualified cadets were football players including quarterback Bob Blaik, the coach’s son.

No fewer than 20 of Blaik’s assistant coaches became head coaches, either in the college or professional ranks. Some of the more prominent included Paul Dietzel at LSU and Murray Warmath at Minnesota, who each won national championships. Sid Gillman, the developer of football’s long passing game, led the San Diego Chargers to an American Football League title.

The Blaik assistant that had the greatest success as a head coach was Vince Lombardi, who directed the Green Bay Packers to five National Football League titles and victories in the first two Super Bowls.

Ohio State’s Woody Hayes and Blaik became very close friends during and after their coaching careers. Their mutual love and respect for the United States military was a key element that helped extend their closeness and respect for each other.