SI Vault
Roy Terrell
September 24, 1962
When it comes to Woody Hayes of Ohio State, there is no in-between. A man with a positive talent for controversy, he has stormed through 11 years of Big Ten football, winning, with equal ease, games, enemies and, lately, a surprising number of friends
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September 24, 1962

You Love Woody Or Hate Him

When it comes to Woody Hayes of Ohio State, there is no in-between. A man with a positive talent for controversy, he has stormed through 11 years of Big Ten football, winning, with equal ease, games, enemies and, lately, a surprising number of friends

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While talk of education sounds hypocritical on the lips of some coaches, no one can question Hayes's sincerity on the subject. "I've never heard him talk about how many All-Americas he's had, or how many undefeated teams," says another Big Ten coach, "but he'll drive you crazy telling you about all his boys who have become doctors and lawyers and dentists and engineers."

"He never let me forget that I was at Ohio State for an education first and to play football second," says Jim Parker. Dick Schafrath, the 260-pound tackle of the Cleveland Browns, grins when he remembers his last meeting with Woody. "You know the first thing he told me? 'You still need a semester to complete that degree. You'd better get back here and finish up,' he said."

"I don't guess there is anything that I believe in more than this university and the value of the education that a boy receives here," says Hayes. "If I can convince my kids of what a degree means to them, then I don't have to worry about them quitting school, I don't have to worry about any of them getting involved in this damned bribe business that almost ruined basketball. I show them the statistics: a college degree is now worth about $180,000 over a working lifetime.

"Of the 27 freshmen who came here on football scholarships in the fall of 1959, 24 will be around this fall. Normally you can expect 40% of the students entering a big university to graduate. On the Ohio State football squad we graduate 70% to 80%. How can anyone condemn college football when they see a figure like that?

"When I came here 11 years ago I was determined that you don't cheat the kid who plays football for you. You see those two buildings?" and Hayes waves at the gleaming mass of steel and concrete that is St. John Arena and at the huge field house sprawling alongside. "They cost $5.5 million to build. Where did the money come from? From these kids on the football team. They earned it. Football is a $2 million business at Ohio State—which means that the 22 boys on the starting team bring in almost $100,000 apiece in gate receipts each year. Think of that. And what do they get in return? Well, we're not going to cheat and give them a slice of the melon or anything else illegal, you can bet on that. What they get is $1,300 a year in room, board, tuition and books—the opportunity to get an education. And I'm going to see that they get that education. We certainly owe them that."

If Hayes feels that the university has a responsibility to the boy, he also feels that the boy owes something to the university. This payment he extracts, often in Churchillian terms, on the football field. When Woody Hayes gets through conditioning a team for the season ahead, it could probably beat the Washington eight-oared crew rowing a Roman galley.

"I hope I work my teams harder than anyone else," he says. "I sure hope so. I try hard enough." How the players feel about this, he doesn't know. "Frankly," he says, "I don't give a damn." Instead of sending boys away from Ohio State like a flock of pigeons, this treatment nails them to the campus—and to Hayes—in some manner incomprehensible to the normal jellied soul. Under his lash, boys who would faint at the thought of walking to the grocery at their parents' request run a mile in full football equipment in less than six minutes flat; if they don't, they keep running until they learn how. Eventually the relationship between Hayes and his players reaches a state bordering upon the spiritual, Mike Ingram, last year's co-captain, who ran his first mile in 7:40—he is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 220 pounds—and his last one in 5:40, calls Woody Hayes "the fairest guy I've ever known." Tom Perdue asked Woody to be his best man. Hopalong Cassady, still considered by Woody the best football player he ever coached ("He put out 100% on every play," says Hayes, offering his greatest tribute), points out that the man is a rarity among coaches, if for no other reason than that "he goes all out for you after you graduate. If he can help out when something happens, he'll be there."

It happened to Vic Janowicz after an automobile accident on the West Coast had ended his professional career. "I was in a Chicago hospital, recuperating but not well," says Janowicz. " Ohio State was playing Northwestern, and Woody asked me to dinner. 'You look terrible,' he said, I guess I did; it seems to me that I wasn't getting the proper treatment. So Woody made arrangements for me to return to Columbus on the team plane. He put me in University Hospital and kept me there for a month of physical therapy. It was the turning point for me, the start of a new life."

Bob Vogel is a very large, blond young man who may be one of the two best tackles in America this fall; the other is his teammate, Daryl Sanders. Vogel has survived two years of Woody Hayes and, like a man who has become fond of hitting himself on the head with a hammer, looks forward to a third. "Playing for him is a challenge," Vogel grins. "If you get through his preseason two-a-day workouts, you get the feeling that you can handle most of the other things you are going to run into in life."

Hayes sees nothing unusual in this stoic acceptance of his coaching. "The boys seem to welcome discipline," he says. "Success is the only motivational factor that a boy with character needs. When he sees that he's getting in shape, that all this work is good for him, then he doesn't grouse about it anymore. He begins to drive himself. Hell, he wants to win as much as I do. There's a lot of silly talk about building character in college football—and I happen to believe in it. In our society there aren't too many tough things that a boy can do anymore. Football is one of the few. He has to whip that guy across from him and he has to do it as a member of a team, playing within the rules. But a coach doesn't go out to build character, he goes out to win. The character will take care of itself."

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