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Some Great Stories About Ohio State Football Coach and Legend Woody Hayes


One of the more enjoyable things about Woody is to hear the many stories involving him. There are many amazing and humorous stories about him, and here are just a few:

Woody was famous for his hatred for Michigan and anything that had to do with the state (he referred to it, of course, as "that state up north" or "that team up north") . One night on a recruiting trip in the state of Michigan, an assistant noticed that the car he was driving was going to run out of gas. He let Woody, who was dozing in the passenger seat, that he had to pull over for gas. Woody refused, and the assistant drove on. The assistant, who saw the weather was starting to get bad, began to become worried about getting stuck in the middle of nowhere, and once again stressed his desire to pull over and get gas. Woody erupted: "No, goddammit! We do NOT pull in and fill up. And I'll tell you exactly why we don't. It's because I don't buy one goddam drop of gas in the state of Michigan! We'll coast and PUSH this goddam car to the Ohio line before I give this state a nickel of my money!" The assistant knew he wasn't kidding, and they barely made it across the border and sputtered into the first gas station they found in Ohio.

Woody Hayes and one his of his teams from the early years at Ohio StatespacerWoody was also famous for his love for history. One night at an airport in Philadelphia, Woody was scheduled to fly home to Ohio, but the last plane out was cancelled, so Woody decided to drive back to Columbus. An Air Force sergeant, who was overseas for two years, was at the airport and discovered Woody was driving back to Ohio asked him for a ride, saying he had to catch an 8 am flight out of Dayton to get home to Utah or he'd be out of luck. Woody agreed and arranged for his assistant John Mummey in Columbus to drive the man to Dayton when they arrived.

Woody never told the man who he was though, only that his name was "Hayes." When Mummey asked the man how his ride went, the man started going into how interesting Woody was and how many history stories he had to tell. "He sounded like a history professor," he said. Mummey realized that the sergeant didn't know who he was riding with, and he let him in on the secret. The man was amazed, and he said that Woody never talked about football or who he really was. Mummey replied, "Yeah, and if I know Woody, he was too busy talking history to mention football."

Woody's determination and will to be the best were legendary. One time early in his career, a group of coaches looked out the window and noticed that Woody had arrived in the parking lot outside. There was one parking spot left in the lot, and Woody saw it and went for it. However, the parking spot was so small that he couldn't get out of his car. Woody then backed the car up, got out of his car, started measuring things like the wind and distance between cars, and he then carefully and slowly proceeded to push his car into the spot. The coaches were amazed. "My God! Either the man is superbrilliant or superstubborn," said one, to which another replied "Probably both, but can you imagine what he thinks of the word 'defeat?'"

Woody was the master of organization. One time, a television station wanted to use 14 players to shoot a promo for a game. On the day of the shoot, the director and crew arrived for the shoot and began arranging things in a haphazard manner. Finally, when they were all ready for the shoot, Woody, disgusted, asked "How long is this going to take?" The director said 25 minutes, and Woody disagreed and informed him that practice would start in five minutes. Woody then took control, setting up the shoot and getting players to line up and say their parts in one take. The entire piece was finished with no problems, and the director was upstaged in a big way. An observer said, "Hell, given those twenty-five minutes the director wanted, Woody could have made War and Peace. With retakes."

Woody took his temper out on a lot of things, including his own body. One night, he was watching film with assistants very late, and they could not find what they were looking for despite watching over and over. The coaches suggested that they stop for the night and pick up the next day. Woody, so incensed that the coaches wanted to stop, threw into a verbal tirade and then began to punch himself in the head repeatedly as hard as he could. The coaches then proceeded to review film for another hour. The next day, he came to practice with two black eyes. When asked what happened, coaches just said "Oh, Woody just got mad last night." It was a surprise to no one.

Ohio State head coach Woody HayesspacerWoody was a man who wanted results and wanted them right away. Usually, coaches would gather to watch film, which would arrive via TWA earlier in the day. One day, the film was late. Woody got so sick of waiting that he ordered one of the coaches to get the TWA director of shipping on the phone. The coach began to dial, but Woody then changed his mind and instructed him to get Howard Hughes on the phone. The coaches were incredulous, but Woody said, "He owns the goddam airline, get him on the phone! I'll give you ten minutes." The coaches realized this would be impossible, but they began the attempt anyway. Luckily though, the TWA delivery arrived right as they began their call. "Lucky damned Hughes," said Woody. "I'd've sure chewed his butt off."

The opinion of Woody amongst the OSU faculty was mixed. Some were behind him, believing he was a great leader and was as intelligent as any scholar, but some thought his team that gave OSU an image of a football school diminished the academic image of the institution and that Woody himself was a disgrace because of his volatile behavior. One time while Woody was in the faculty club lounge, a professor decided to rip into Woody and let him know exactly how he felt. The professor hurled insult after insult at Woody, but Woody just sat listening calmly. Woody waited until he was done, and then he pointed his finger at the professor and said, "Okay, now you listen to me. What you say about me and about football may or may not be true. But I can tell you one thing that is very certainly true. (pause) Just remember one thing. I can do your job, but you can't do mine!"

Woody's players succeeded in school as well as life, and he blamed it on himself when his players failed. Once, while on a vacation to the Alps, Woody made a collect call back to Columbus because he knew it was the day that grades came out. When one of the coaches informed him that a player was flunking out of school, Woody freaked. He instructed that the phone be passed to every assistant and ripped into each one of them. Then he said "I can't trust anybody back there! I go away for two weeks and you kill me! I might as well kill myself right here!" The coaches, now in fear of their jobs, could hear Woody screaming over the phone. "I'm gonna kill myself! I'm gonna jump off a goddam Alp!" he yelled. The coaches in the office began chanting softly, "Jump... Jump!" The coach on the phone tried to cover the receiver, but he couldn't. "I will! I will!" Woody yelled. "I heard those sonsabitches! Tell 'em I will! I will!" There was then a cracking sound over the phone, and then silence, and the coaches realized that Woody had ripped the phone out of the wall and threw it across the room.

Woody was competitive in everything. One day, he had it arranged that Red Grange would attend an OSU practice. But there was a miscommunication and Grange would not be let in. Woody was furious about this. But then, in the parking lot after practice, where Woody would always ride the first bus out while the team caught the second bus, the first bus left without Woody, and he was enraged. He threw his briefcase in the middle of the parking lot and it split open and playsheets flew everywhere. Woody then hopped on the second bus and the bus driver took off in an effort to catch the first bus. Assistant Lou McCullough recalled, "It was the first time in history that a vehicle of any kind -- let alone a bus -- ever careened through campus at 75 miles an hour, with Woody bellowing every foot of the way. Woody just won't be upstaged, and the driver knew his life wasn't safe if he didn't overtake that first bus."

Woody was so fast to erupt at the slightest thing, but when doctor told him that a sponge was accidentally sewn inside his abdominal cavity, he was surprisingly understanding. He smiled at the doctor and said, "Gee, that's funny. In 28 years of coaching, I never made a mistake."

Woody didn't like those who didn't play fair. When OSU went to Iowa one year for a road game, Woody noticed that the grass was grown extra-high in an attempt to slow down the OSU running backs. Woody got mad, and he also got even. He snuck behind the Iowa bench, stole a couple of heaters, and brought them over to the OSU sidelines.

The team came first. One time after an OSU victory, Woody was addressing his players when suddenly, he received a phone call from President Richard Nixon. Woody put him on hold until he was done talking to his players.

Woody Hayes and one his of his teams from the early years at Ohio StatespacerWoody was famous for his motivational speeches and techniques. He always brought past players in to speak to the current team, and one time, he called up ex-Buckeye star defensive lineman Jim Stillwagon to come in and give a pre-game speech before the UM game and tell the players what it means to play in the big game. Stillwagon began his speech, but Woody interrupted in a big way. Stillwagon described what Woody said and did this way: "I start in with whatever it was I said, and all the sudden Woody just goes into this frenzy: 'Yeah, but I mean, tell 'em how it really bleeping was.' BAM. He hits me right in the stomach. 'Tell 'em it's like war.' BAM. He hits me again. 'You gotta kill those sonsabitches!' BAM. I'm getting the snot beat out of me. It's like he's hitting a heavy bag. BAM. 'Now you tell 'em, Jim.' And I'm thinking to myself, 'How did I get into this?' But you know what? Every guy who was there told me later, 'That was a great speech you gave.'"

This was from a book called, "I Remember Woody." In 1974, Ohio State was ranked #1 in the nation. They were playing at Michigan State. On the last play of the game, the ball was given to Champ Henson. He appeared to get into the end zone. The referees couldn't tell if it was a touchdown. One of them went into the OSU locker room and said the touchdown didn't count. Woody picked up a chair and shattered it into a dozen pieces. He picked up a bottle of heart pills and said, "Bleep my heart." The coach suffered a heart attack earlier that year. Then, he threw them on the floor and stomped on them. Hayes spoke to the players afterwards. "You motherbleepers like to fight, don't you? Let's go kick their bleep." As he walked out of the locker room, he noticed Big Ten Commissioner Wayne Duke standing outside. Woody charged at him, shoving him against the wall. He said, "Tell my team they got bleeped." Duke said, "Woody, they got bleeped." The Buckeyes went to the bus outside the stadium. Before they were about to leave, a group of Spartan fans stood in front of the bus. Hayes told the driver, "Bleep 'em. Run 'em over." Finally, the bus left the parking lot. (Excerpts from Bucknuts.com)

Woody reportedly ordered an assistant, driving him back from Ann Arbor, not to stop for gas in Michigan as he didn't want to give Michigan any of this money. "We'll coast and PUSH this blankety-blank car to the Ohio line before I give this state a nickel of my money!" The car reportedly barely made it across the Ohio line to a gas station.

Woody once demanded his staff call Howard Hughes because his shipment of a game tape via TWA Airlines hadn't arrived. Luckily it did arrive before his staff were forced to make the call. Woody reportedly said, "Lucky damned Hughes. I'd've sure sure chewed his butt off."

The last rites of Woody Hayes: There is no question that the battles between Bo and Woody during the 70’s were in a league by themselves when it came to classic matchups between two of college football’s most crazed individuals.

The only person that came close of equaling the maniacal intensity during Michigan-Ohio State week was my buddy Bob Ufer. After one of the Wolverines epic wins in Columbus, Bob came dancing into my booth and told me to come next door where he had been ripping up the airwaves.

There in the back of the booth was a long box, disguised as a coffin, draped in black with the notation, Here lies Woodrow W. Hayes and his Buckeyes, buried today by the Michigan Wolverines. We all got a goodlaugh out of it and then promptly forgot it. But not everybody did.

The next November Bob called the office of the legendary Buckeye coach and asked if he could get a pre-game interview with him.

"Hell no," came the answer. "I'm dead. You buried me last year."

The next sound Bob heard was a telephone banging into its stand. (by Tom Hemingway, Nov 26, 2001 michigan.scout.com)

More Woody Stories and Quotes

Coach Woody Hayes, Head Coach Ohio State Buckeyes 1951-1978 the man all other OSU coaches are measured against

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