Jack Park: Buckeyes open 106th season of Big Ten competition

Jack Park For the Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State Buckeyes tight end Marcus Baugh (85) tries to get away from Rutgers Scarlet Knights linebacker Deonte Roberts (6) after a catch during the 1st half at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, NJ on September 28, 2017. [Kyle Robertson]

After defeating Oregon State 77-31 in the season opener, Ohio State will face Rutgers at home Saturday afternoon with a 3:30 pm kickoff in its first Big Ten Conference contest of 2018. The Scarlet Knights are led by Chris Ash who enters his third season as head coach. Ash’s record of 7-18 at Rutgers includes includes last week’s 35-7 victory over Texas State, and a mark of 3-15 in conference games over the last two seasons.

The Big Ten Conference began competition in 1896 with seven founding members – Chicago, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin. Indiana and Iowa joined in 1900, increasing the league membership to nine. Northwestern left the league in 1906 and returned in 1908, Michigan withdrew in 1907 and did not return until 1917. 

Ohio State joined the Big Ten in 1913. Chicago dropped football and left the league after the 1939 season. Beginning in 1940 there were only nine members until Michigan State came aboard in 1953 to hoist the membership back to 10. The league now boasts 14 members with the addition of Penn State in 1993, Nebraska in 2011, and Maryland and Rutgers in 2014. 

The Buckeyes have the second most league titles with 36 – 20 outright and 16 shared during their 105 seasons of membership. Michigan has the most championships with 42 – 16 outright and 26 shared while holding league membership for 113 campaigns. Ohio State holds the record for the most consecutive league crowns – six from 1972 through 1977 (outright in 1975 and five shared with Michigan).

Chris Ash was a two-year assistant at Ohio State before moving to Rutgers in 2016. He was co-defensive coordinator with Luke Fickell during the Buckeyes’ national title season of 2014. Ash is one of no fewer than 15 former Ohio State assistants who have returned to face the Buckeyes as head coach of the opposition.

The best remembered is Bo Schembechler, a five-year assistant to Woody Hayes from 1958 through 1962. Schembechler’s record of 11-9-1 over Ohio State from 1969-1989 included a 5-4-1 advantage over Hayes during the “10-Year War” of 1969-1978.

Lou Holtz coached the defensive backfield during Ohio State’s national title year of 1968. He returned to oppose Ohio State as head coach at three different schools. Holtz was 0-2 against the Buckeyes at Minnesota, 0-2 at Notre Dame, but 2-0 at South Carolina with back-to-back Outback Bowl triumphs at the end of the 2000 and 2001 seasons.

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio was defensive coordinator under Jim Tressel three years from 2001-2003. Dantonio was head coach at Cincinnati from 2004-2006 (lost to Ohio State twice) before advancing to Michigan State in 2007. As the Spartan head coach, Dantonio is currently 3-6 versus the Buckeyes.

Bill Mallory, an excellent three-year OSU assistant from 1966-1968, led Colorado against the Buckeyes in the Orange Bowl at the end of the 1976 season. OSU won, 27-10. Mallory was later head coach at Indiana, going 2-10-1 versus Ohio State over his 13 seasons from 1984-1996.

Other OSU assistants who later faced Ohio State from the opposite sideline include Dave McClain at Wisconsin, Minnesota’s Glen Mason, Tim Beckman at Toledo and Illinois, Akron’s Lee Owens, Ron Zook at Illinois, Jim Colletto and Darrell Hazel at Purdue, Bowling Green’s Gary Blackney, and Larry Coker at Miami (Fla). Ohio State defeated Coker’s Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl 31-24 in double overtime to capture the 2002 national title.