Woody, between bites of sofas and chairs, will believe forever that the game was lost in the untangling of the resultant pile. The officials, he said, should have made the Spartans get up faster, and they especially should have made one of them stop holding on to Steve Myers' face mask, preventing the center from reaching his feet. Naturally, the Spartans got up slowly; that is part of football.
Woody's argument would be more convincing if his Buckeyes themselves had looked ready to run a play. Some of them looked as if they thought they had time to browse through a volume or two of The History of Gauze before lining up. One fellow, Doug France, a tight end, seemed to start back toward a huddle that did not exist. Two other linemen never got completely down. And Griffin never quite made it to a set position.
Woody Hayes did not care about any of that over the gloomy weekend. He managed to pull himself together enough to appear on his TV show back in Columbus on Saturday night. Barely.
"I'm in no mood to be on this show," he said. "I can't tell you how bitter I am. The older you get and the more you win, the more bitter you get with a loss. This was the greatest team we've ever had."
Woody babbled as his audience saw reruns of the last few plays.
"Watch how we can't get up," he said. "Watch 'em hold down our players. Finally, when we do get up—there's about two seconds—we ran the play and went into the end zone. They ruled a touchdown and then they called it back and said it wasn't.... When there's that much of a pileup and near the goal and the clock is running out, it's up to the officials to blow time-out. That's where they blew it!"
The bitter poetry of Wayne Woodrow Hayes, continued:
"The officials say time had run out, but they should have stopped the clock on that pileup. And if there was illegal motion there should have been a flag thrown on it.... Both sides were probably offsides on the last play, it looks like to me.... The thing I resent is that no effort was made to get them to unpile. It's just as grossly unfair as it can be.... I'm just as bitter as the devil.... But if you take something like this lightly, you'll be laughing more than you'll be winning."
In retrospect, Woody might get around to questioning some of his offensive calls, or those of his staff, or of OSU Quarterback Cornelius Greene, far more than the judgment of some officials. A team like the Buckeyes, undefeated, untied and averaging 45 points per game, could not play decently and lose to a collection of scholar-athletes who have been beaten three times, once at the hands of UCLA by 56-14, and tied once. Not without being drugged, overconfident or sabotaged by their own game plan.
Looking back for earlier clues to the upset, we find Ohio State taking its very first possession of the football down on Michigan State's 39-yard line, letting the incomparable Archie Griffin run it quickly to the 13, and then not letting him touch it again. That certainly made wonderful sense. Cornelius Greene takes over. He makes five. Next comes some kind of dumb pass, incomplete. Then Greene calls on Brian Baschnagel, who scored the touchdown that never happened, and he makes three. The Buckeyes have to settle for a field goal.