Woody Hayes was no stranger to controversy. His temper was well-known and he had displayed bad behavior long before he came to The Ohio State University. A few of the controversies swirling around Woody Hayes:
1956: Hayes placed on probation for giving a player a loan
Hayes was sanctioned by the university in 1956 when he helped some athletes who had fallen on hard times out of his own pocket, a well-intentioned practice at odds with conference rules. ‘We’ve got to do something to help those kids,’ Hayes roared. ‘One of those boys came to me and said he had only one pair of pants. ‘Can’t you get a loan’ I asked him. ‘I tried,’ he said, ‘They told me it would take four months.’ Hell, a pair of pants can get to be awfully dirty in four months. Sure I gave him the money.’ Eventually, the Big Ten authorized conference schools to set up loan funds to furnish immediate financial assistance when players were in need.
1961: OSU faculty decide not to send the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl
In 1960, a United States Senator visited the OSU campus, commenting that “I don’t know much about Ohio State, but I do know you have a good football team here.” Certain faculty members objected to the Senator’s remarks, and one explained that “We’re upset over the fact that the image of Oho State is that the school is merely an appendage to the football team. When we go away for meetings, we’re kidded about this by people from other schools. We don’t dislike football, but the feeling is that things are out of proportion.”A special meeting of the Faculty Council debated whether the team should attend the Rose Bowl, and after a secret ballot was cast, University President Novice Fawcett declared the findings: “28 against, 25 for.” Bang.
The demonstrations began. Students burned members of the faculty in effigy, snake-danced down the main street, surrounded the capitol building, broke windows, besieged and insulted their professors and “generally raised the most hell that has been raised in Columbus since V-J day. The local TV and radio stations, without exception, joined in the denunciation of the anti-Rose Bowl faculty members, some of them in violent terms.The Columbus Dispatch printed a list of those professors voting against the’“joyous trip to California,’ complete with addresses [and] salaries. The result was that the offending professors were jeered, scowled at, browbeaten, telephoned day and night and greeted with messages in Anglo-Saxon monosyllables on blackboards all over the campus.”
Woody’s response: “I don’t agree with those 28 ‘no’ votes, but I respect the integrity of the men who cast them, if not their intelligence. I would not want football to drive a line of cleavage in our university. Football is not worth that. … We have had to learn to accept defeat under pressure and that may help us now, although it is difficult to explain to the boys when, after 15 years, the Rose Bowl is jerked out from under them.” The public demonstrations soon died down, and the university went back to its business of education and football.
1971-77: Hayes acquires a reputation for violence.
Hayes is shown on national television breaking the sideline down markers, pushing a camera back into a photographer’s eye prior to the start of the Rose Bowl, and punching Mike Friedman, an ABC cameraman, during the Michigan game. Hayes refused to apologize: “You get doggone tired of cameras being pushed in your face. I’m fed up with it. I make no apologies.”
1978: Hayes’s career comes to an end.
In the closing moments of the Gator Bowl game, before a national television audience, Hayes reacted to an interception by rushing Charlie Baumann, a Clemson University player, and punching him. The next day, Hugh Hindman, then athletic director of Ohio State, and himself a former player and assistant coach under Hayes, said at a press conference that “Coach Hayes has been relieved of his duties as head football coach at Ohio State University. This decision has the full support of the president of the university.” Later, Hindman said, “It was the toughest decision I will ever have to make.”
When the plane carrying the football team touched down at Port Columbus, Hayes spoke to the players. He told them to go home and study. “He said he didn’t want to see any of us fail,” freshman Tom Levenick, said. “Then he simply put his head down and told us that, he wasn’t going to be our coach next season. He got off the plane and that’s the last anyone has seen of him.”
(Information about specific events, newspaper citations, and comments made by Woody Hayes and others were drawn from the following sources: Woody Hayes: The Man & His Dynasty, edited by Mike Bynum; I Remember Woody: Recollections of The Man They Called Coach Hayes, by Steve Greenberg and Dale Ratermann; and Woody Hayes and the 100-Yard Warby Jerry Brondfield.)