Bobos and the Bowermasters, many gridmen do attend classes, and some of them,
Hopalong Cassady included, get better than average marks. Hayes particularly
seeks quarterbacks with straight-A averages so he at least won't have to worry
about their flunking out. "Woody is refreshing in his frankness,"
Fullen adds, "but his conscience, like that of all the others involved in
this mess, is caught in the compulsions of survival. 'Don't give me any of that
character building business,' he's told me. 'I could build all the characters
in the world and lose enough games, and I'd be out of here, but fast.'
Hayes gets some help from his wife and some from the frank expenditure of the
approximately $4,000 a year he earns doing a TV stint in Columbus. The Hayeses
often entertain prospects in their home ( Big Ten rules forbid coaches to
recruit outside). Once signed, a recruit can count on some financial help from
Hayes if he is "in need." Woody insists that he never forks up for a
luxury—another narrow line—but it's certainly also true that he makes sure he
won't lose any valuable men by financial default.
Hayes has all
the respect in the world for the bona fide bird dogs in Ohio. His troubles
spring from the fact that so many of them turn into wolves. Actually, the
wolves were prowling at his doorstep the moment he talked himself into the job
his best friends warned him not to take.
He came into a
climate that was anything but congenial. A powerful alumni faction had demanded
the return of Paul Brown, who had coached at OSU before going off to the Navy
and subsequently becoming a pro coach—and if Brown wasn't available another
big-time name coach was wanted. Hayes, these alumni contended, was pretty small
potatoes when you looked at his record.
Who, indeed, was
At least, he was
unadulterated Ohio. Born in Clifton in 1913, he grew up in Newcomerstown, where
his self-educated father was superintendent of schools. Both his parents were
adamant, as far back as Woody can remember, about his getting a college
education. As a pair of husky country boys, Hayes and brother Ike were
naturally interested in more robust pursuits. Stemming from a line of tough
mountaineer fighters, they carried on the tradition. One evening Superintendent
Hayes went out to deliver a speech and found himself in an empty meeting hall.
He was told about "the big fight" going on, and rushed over to discover
that his competition was his two sons, putting on a bout under assumed
Woody went to
Denison University in Granville, where he majored in English and history—he was
a top-grade history student—and played varsity football as a tackle and varsity
baseball as an outfielder. After graduating from Denison, Hayes spent a year as
assistant football coach at Mingo Junction High School and then took a similar
job at New Philadelphia. The head coach there was John Brickels, whom Hayes
credits with teaching him more than anyone else about the game.
always subject to temperamental outbursts," Brickels recalls. "Maybe
it's because he was smart, quick and a perfectionist. I'd let him know what I
wanted done and he'd do it, pronto. He lacked patience. I tried to tell him
that when he corrected a kid he shouldn't make an enemy of the boy, but Woody
had a hard time controlling himself and he drove the kids too hard. He'd swear
a lot, and I also told him he was the last guy who should, that it didn't fit
his personality, what with that little lisp of his. He kept improving, though,
and when I left I recommended him for the top job."
Through 1938 and
1939 Hayes won 18, lost one and tied one at New Philadelphia. In 1940 he won
only once though, and got into trouble with the superintendent over his harsh
methods. At the end of the season he went into the Navy.
During the war
Hayes commanded a patrol chaser and a destroyer escort. When he was discharged,
as a lieutenant commander, he got the football coaching job at his alma mater,
Denison, and after a poor first season his teams won 19 games in a row over two