SI Vault
Edited by Robert H. Boyle
January 08, 1979
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January 08, 1979


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Woody Hayes' 28-year career at Ohio State came to a sudden end last week when he went berserk toward the end of the Gator Bowl game in Jacksonville. With Clemson leading 17-15 and 1:59 remaining, Ohio State had a third down and five to go on the Clemson 24. But that's as far as the Buckeyes got. Clemson Middle Guard Charlie Bauman intercepted an Art Schlichter pass. When Bauman was tackled near the Ohio State bench, Hayes went wild. He grabbed Bauman and punched him. When one of his own players, Ken Fritz, attempted to intervene, Hayes turned on him. There was a mob scene of milling players and coaches. Finally Hayes was wrestled away by his defensive coach, George Hill. Ohio State drew a 15-yard penalty for Hayes' unsportsmanlike conduct. Then Ohio State was penalized another 15 yards when the still-raging Hayes ran onto the field and had to be led away by an assistant.

Ohio State Athletic Director Hugh Hindman, who had played for Hayes at Miami University in 1949 and served as one of his assistants at Ohio State for seven years, confronted Hayes privately in the locker room. Hindman told Hayes he was going to inform the Ohio State president, who was in the stands, of the particulars of the affray, and that Hayes "could expect the worst possible result." There was a bitter exchange between the two men, and then, Hindman says, Hayes "asked if he had the opportunity to resign, and I told him he did. Shortly thereafter he said, 'I'm not going to resign. That would make it too easy for you. You had better go ahead and fire me.' "

With that, Hindman drove off to see Ohio State President Harold L. Enarson at the country club in Ponte Vedra where he was staying. They met shortly after two in the morning, and Hindman told Enarson, who had no clear idea of what had happened on the field, about Hayes. They agreed to fire him. "There isn't a university or an athletic conference in the country which would permit a coach to physically assault a college athlete," Enarson says. At 8 a.m. Hindman told Hayes he was through as coach. After returning to Columbus, Hayes cleared out his office of his few personal possessions, including his books on Emerson, great generals and wars, loaded them into his Bronco and went home to seclusion.

It is surprising that Hayes was not canned years ago. In addition to numerous publicized outbursts of temper and violence, Hayes often flew into ungovernable rages in practice and struck his players. There was talk last year that Ohio State wanted to fire Hayes after he punched an ABC cameraman in the stomach, but it was just talk; the only punishment meted out to Hayes was a year's "probation" by the Big Ten.

One of the problems with big-time college football is the reverence in which coaches are held. They are called Coach Jones and Coach Smith and Coach Hayes, investing them with almost priestly eminence and inviolability. It goes to the head, and Hayes isn't the only coach who regards himself as omnipotent and beyond criticism, and football as something separate from the university. One of the most telling insights into the relationship between football and higher education came last week from OSU President Enarson, who, when asked if the Hayes case were embarrassing to the university, remarked, "I take comfort with the keen awareness that football and the great reputation of this university tend to be totally separate."

Then there is the matter of ABC's coverage of the incident. Announcers Keith Jackson and Ara Parseghian professed to be confused about what was going on down on the field, even though the camera clearly showed Hayes punching Bauman. Were Jackson and Parseghian—or should it be Coach Parseghian?—attempting to draw a discreet shade over a member of the clan who had gone out of control? Or are they simply inept? Was Producer Bob Goodrich fearful of hurting the "image" of college football, which ABC televises during the season? Or is Goodrich simply inept? Whatever the reason, ABC booted the story the night Coach Hayes booted his career at Ohio State.

1,857'3�" AND ALL THAT

Attention, trivia nuts. Harvey Pollack, the PR director for the Philadelphia 76ers, who in our last issue revealed to an anxiously awaiting world all sorts of recondite statistics on technical fouls in the NBA, is at it again. To wit, these samples from the Sixers' media guide:

?If all 285 players who competed in the NBA last year were stacked on top of one another they would be 1,857'3�" high.

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