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Woody Hayes Biography (Bio) – Ohio State University (OSU) Buckeyes Football Head Coach 1951-1978

The colorful character known as Woody Hayes was born Wayne Woodrow Hayes in February 1913 and had a lasting impact on the sport of college football and in particular The Ohio State University (OSU) where he coached chief football for 28 years of his 74-year-old life. . Although he passed away more than two decades ago on March 12, 1987, Coach Hayes still fondly remembers each fall during the college football season and especially in early November when arch-rivals the Ohio State Buckeyes and the University of Michigan Wolverines square off on the iron gate.

During his tenure as football coach with the Buckeyes from 1951 to 1978, Coach Hayes won three national titles (1954, 1957, and 1968) and thirteen Big Ten Conference titles. Woody Hayes coached 276 college football games at Ohio State and in those competitions he posted an impressive 205-61-10.

Despite a record of success and admiration, the 1983 College Football Hall of Fame inductee is sadly best known to some casual fans for the incident that led to his untimely dismissal. During the 1978 Gator Bowl held on December 29, 1978, 65-year-old Hayes punched an opposing Clemson University Tigers football player in the face.

The final moments of icon Woody Hayes’ famous coaching career came with OSU trailing Clemson by a score of 17-15 with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Ohio State was driving on offense for the score to go forward when an errant pass from Art Schlichter (quarterback for Ohio State) was intercepted by a Clemson defender named Charlie Bauman.

After the interception, Bauman was forced out of bounds on what turned out to be the Buckeyes sideline near Woody Hayes. As the Clemson player leapt to his feet after being tackled on the sidelines, Hayes, 65, punched the Clemson player through his face mask. The following day (December 30, 1978), the OSU fired Woody Hayes for his unacceptable actions.

Long before Hayes was relieved of his coaching duties at Ohio State on such a low note in late 1978, he was an accomplished high school athlete in the early 1930s and played college football at the Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where he was even in a fraternity (Sigma Chi). About five months before the infamous bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Hayes joined the United States Navy and eventually became a Lieutenant Commander in World War II. After World War II, Hayes spent three seasons coaching at his alma mater before moving to nearby Miami University (Ohio) for the 1949 and 1950 seasons. The rest of his coaching career would be his long stint from 28 seasons with Ohio State from 1951 to 1978. Coach Woody Hayes died less than a decade after coaching his last football game.

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