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Come on, Damon. Come on, Ring. Come on, Granny. Where are the words? Here all of us are, all the famous sportswriters, trapped in this den of Ohio ecstasy, watching Woody Hayes fight his way through that insane mob down on the field, the game ball jammed into his armpit and actual tears in his eyes. The world has gone mad here because all the old heroes, one by one, have come back from somewhere and the Buckeyes have won the Emotion Bowl. You guys had better lay some good words on us because Woody told the writers they "better get with it," and, personally, some of us don't want to cross Woody any more than Rex Kern or Jim Stillwagon or Bruce Jankowski, or any of those other associates of his who used to be great and then were ungreat and then, facing death by tongue lash, were semi-wonderful enough to whip Michigan in a football afternoon that couldn't have turned out any other way if Woody had been forced to climb a ladder and shake his fist at the Lord.
No help, huh? We're on our own, right? Well, sorry, Woody. This will have to be it, then. We've got our game hands on so we can type as hard as Stillwagon hit all of those Michigan backs. We're as grim as Lou McCullough, the defensive coach who promised Jack Tatum he would come down out of the stadium booth and "kick his teeth in" if Tatum didn't read "15 draw" when Michigan ran it. But listen, Woody. We're just as limp as all those Michigan jerseys you had your guys walking on in the locker room all week.
But we'll try. So here's how it was, sort of, in the game that had the Big Ten more worked up than anything in a lot of years. Here was Ohio State undefeated and untied, and here was Michigan undefeated and untied, and that mathematical circumstance hadn't occurred in a final game in the Midwest since Michigan lost 2-0 to Chicago, which had Walter Eckersall, back in 1905. That one, however, didn't have you, Woody. This one was your game to win or lose. Your defense had been good all season long. The question was whether your offense, your offense, would get enough points.
For six weeks you had been retreating, and looking mediocre. You had been "grinding meat," as you put it, with John Brockington running up the shoulder blades of his guards and tackles the way you always did it with Bob White and Bob Ferguson and those guys. Back there in 1968 and all but one game of 1969 you had a dazzling attack with passing, pitchouts, reversing, faking and all that. But you kept retreating—and it looked as if the players had lost as much confidence as the fans.
People were beginning to believe some of your former stars who were saying such things as Daryl Sanders said during the week. Did you read Sanders' quote? "Your first year you fear Woody, your second year you respect him, but your third year you begin to question him," he said.
Well, Woody, if Rex's gang had begun to question you, they won't now. For the one game they had to win, to get revenge for the upset last year, to get you another Big Ten championship, to get you a fourth unbeaten regular season, to keep the Bucks in the race for No. 1, to send you to the Rose Bowl without embarrassment, they played their most psyched-up game ever. And you gave them back some of their tools to do it with. You didn't just grind meat, which might have got you beat. You ground Michigan 20-9 with the pass and the pitch as well. And with the defense.
By the way, that was a nice thing to do, Woody, to say that Lou McCullough, your defensive genius, ought to be "the Coach of the Year." It was you who gave Lou that shaggy-haired Stan White and defied him to turn White into a linebacker to replace Phil Strickland, whom you had taken for an offensive guard. Lou did it. White not only became the leading tackier on the team, he made the late interception Saturday that put the game out of reach.
You know, Woody, while you were clutching that game ball and moving through the crowd down on the field, Lou was upstairs with us. He came rushing up, just as wrung out, bruising his way through the writers like Leo Hay-den going through the Maize and Blue.
"Thirty-seven yards on the ground and one touchdown," Lou shouted. "That's what our kids gave 'em. That's unbelievable! Did they hit 'em? Did they get after 'em? Oh, did they sting 'em."
Not bad, Lou.