The Woody Hayes Archive | Ohio State hires a new football coach (1951)
Editor's note: This is 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 in the Woody Hayes Archive predate the Internet era and are being presented in digital form for the first time.
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(Originally published on the front page on Feb. 19, 1951)
Hayes to Coach OSU; Miami U Mentor Wins Five-Year Agreement
By PAUL HORNUNG
Thirty-eight-year-old Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes closed up shop at Miami University Monday and moved his T-formation to Ohio State as its 19th head football coach.
The portly, black-haired 1935 Denison University grad inherits what his resigned predecessor, Wesley Fesler, hinted was a "hot spot," but has several compensations.
Hayes assumes his new duties as the announced "unanimous" choice of the screening committee, athletic board and board of trustees. The latter group gave its official and required stamp of approval at a special session Sunday.
Also, Hayes was accorded the fattest contract ever offered by the university. President Howard L. Bevis said, following his official announcement of Hayes' hiring, that the salary would $12,500 and that his contract would be for one year "according to university regulations."
Later, it was learned that Hayes has been given a "gentleman's agreement" for five years and that his salary would increase to a maximum of $15,000 in its fifth season. Dr. Bevis did admit that "there was a general understanding it will be a continuing contract."
Fesler came to Ohio State in 1947, also at $12,500, but under a "gentleman's agreement" for only three years. He collected $15,000 in salary for the 1950 season before resigning Dec. 9.
Sunday's action ended the long and rumor-surrounding coach-hunt in which the screening committee interviewed eight candidates before finally submitting Hayes' name last Monday. The trustees delayed decision because three members did not attend Monday's session. Two of the three, Sen. John W. Bricker and Charles F. Kettering, were on hand Sunday, bringing the board attendance to six.
The official statement said:
"The nomination by the President of Wayne W. Hayes to be head football coach has been confirmed by the board of trustees by unanimous vote.
"Such action is not to be considered as a reflection upon other candidates, as there were other qualified persons considered by the screening committee and the athletic board.
"Considering all factors involved, Mr. Hayes appeared to be the best choice. The board wishes to announce that there was absolutely nothing of any kind of character to disqualify any of the other candidates interviewed by the screening committee and the athletic board."
This latter obviously referred to Paul Brown, coach of the world champion Cleveland Browns and the "people's choice."
Bricker, it was reliably reported, made a 10-minuted speech to his fellow trustees, in which he opposed Brown and boosted the candidacy of Hayes.
Brown was interviewed by the screening committee upon invitation, but did not apply for the job. The trustees apparently wished to attempt to appease the legions who backed Brown with letters, petitions and phone calls.
Hayes, who has five years of college coaching at Denison and Miami behind him, wasn't the least bit dismayed by the tough Ohio State coaching situation.
Accepting congratulations shortly after the trustees' action Sunday night, the new Buckeye gridmaster said: "I have wanted this job very much. It's the greatest coaching opportunity in the country."
Hayes waited in the office of Athletic Direction Dick Larkins while the trustees deliberated for almost two hours. This time his vigil proved fruitful. Last Monday, he arrived to accept the job, only to find it hadn't been officially offered.
Dr. Bevis assured that Hayes, the sixth Buckeye coach in the last 11 years, would be given a "free hand to name his staff." Hayes later declined to hint as to his aides, explaining that "I definitely will bring one man with me from Miami, but other than that, I can't say for the time being. This has been so much up in the air that I haven't been able to make definite plans."
Hayes was the seventh of eight candidates interviewed by the screening committee and is believe to have been the third "favorite." Harry Strobel, Ohio State freshman coach, enjoyed early favor of the board, was abandoned for Don Faurot of Missouri. Faurot, however, withdrew when Missouri granted him a boost in salary and other considerations.
Once he became "their man," university folks worked unceasingly -- and successfully -- in Hayes' behalf, even though it did not coincide with the wishes of the vast majority of fans, students and alumni.
While it did not affect their votes for Hayes, the trustees rapped Alumni Secretary Jack Fullen and his aid, Kenyon Campbell, across the knuckles for having used their positions to campaign unduly. Fullen, who has more than once cast the university in an embarrassing light, came in for severe criticism for his activities in the coaching matter. He was censured by every member of the board. Fullen also is an executive secretary of the Ohio State Development Fund and Campbell is the field director.
Besides Brown, Strobel and Faurot, other candidates interviewed included Sid Gillman of the University of Cincinnati; Chuck Mather, Massillon Coach who was backed by the Ohio High School Coaches Association; Warren Gaer of Drake University; and Jim McDonald of Springfield High School.
Hayes said he would need "about a day to clean up affairs at Miami," but that he expected to be on the Buckeye campus for work on Tuesday. From there on, his schedule should be a busy one.
The regular February meeting of the athletic board is scheduled for Wednesday night. Since contracts of the assistant coaches are dated as of March 1, Hayes will have to decide by Wednesday night which of the present coaches will be retained and which new aides must be rehired.
Strobel, assistant freshman coach Gene Feketa, end coach Esco Sarkkinen and assistant line coach Ernie Godfrey remain from Fesler's staff. It's understood that Godfrey is certain to stay, since he is assistant athletic director as well as a football staff member.
Following the athletic board meeting, Hayes will go to Chicago for the regular meeting of the Big Ten football coaches Thursday. He hopes to get the Ohio State squad together for an introductory meeting Wednesday and figures on at least a week or more indoor workouts before the end of the current school quarter.
Spring practice is scheduled for March 28.
Hayes was born at Clifton, a village some eight miles from Springfield, where his father was superintendent of schools. Later the family moved to Selma in the same general location, then to Newcomerstown, where Hayes went through grade and high school. He was football captain in 1930.
He entered Denision University at Granville in 1931 and graduated in 1935. He played tackle and center on his Big Red varsity until he was shifted to guard in his senior year.
He began his coaching career at Mingo Junction where he taught history and English, as well as assisted with football coaching. From there he went to New Philadelphia High, where he served as line coach under Johnny Brickels, now director of athletics and head basketball coach and assistant in football at Miami.
Hayes served three years as Brickels' assistant. Upon the latter's transfer to Huntington, W.Va., High School, Hayes became head coach. In his first two seasons there he won 18 games, lost one and tied one. But in 1940, after losing 23 members of his varsity and reserve squads, Hayes won only one game in 10.
He went into the Navy in July of 1941, where he soon was commissioned a lieutenant, junior grade. Stuck with an administrative job, he soon secured a transfer to Pensacola, Fla, a naval air station. He was there for three months, then requested sea duty.
Hayes was aboard ships in both oceans, mostly in the Pacific Theatre. He took an active part in the invasion of Palua Island as commander of a destroyer escort.
Discharged from the Navy with the rank of Lt. Com., Hayes was sought for the Denison head coaching vacancy on the recommendation of Tommy Rogers, who was retiring as the Big Red coach. Hayes arrived at Granville directly from the Navy in the spring of 1946 and immediately took charge.
His first venture wasn't a complete success, but Denison did manage to win its final game from Wittenberg that season. In the next two years, Denison was undefeated, winning the Ohio Conference title both years and giving them a record of 19 games won in succession of the three seasons.
His 1947 team, with two players selected for the small college all-American, was Denison's first conference in more than 50 years of football.
Hayes moved to Miami in 1949, where he won five games and lost four with a squad denuded by graduation and transfers. Last season, his second there, we won nine and lost one, the latter by 7-0 by Xavier.
Miami was selected to play against Arizona State in the Salad Bowl game last Jan. 1 at Phoenix, AZ, where they won from one of the strongest running teams in the game, 34 to 21.
Here's Woody Hayes' record both as a high school and college coach:
New Philadelphia High School
1938 . . . 9-1
1939 . . . 9-0-1
1940 . . . 1-9
1941-1945 (In United States Navy)
1946 . . . 2-6
1947 . . . 9-0 (Ohio Conference Champion)
1948 . . . 8-0 (Ohio Conference Champion)
1949 . . . 5-4
1950 . . . 9-1
Totals . . . 53-21-1
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