Woody Hayes, Buckeye Coach 28 Years, Dies

Times Staff Writer

Woody Hayes, the victorious and volatile coach of Ohio State University’s football teams during their most successful years, died early today. He was 74.

Dr. Robert Murphy, physician to the gridiron genius who guided the Buckeyes to 205 wins and two national championships in a 28-year career, said Hayes died of an apparent heart attack.

His wife, Anne, discovered her husband dead in his bed at his home in Upper Arlington, near Columbus, Ohio, about 6 a.m., Murphy said.


Hayes’ death, like his life, triggered an outpouring of responses.

‘Legend in College Football’

President Reagan called him “a legend in college football.”

“Colorful and sometimes even controversial, he cared deeply about his players, his team and his school. . . . “

Former President Richard M. Nixon, who shared with Hayes a passion for the film “Patton,” said: “Woody Hayes is widely known as one of the greatest football coaches of our time, but I knew him also to be a man who had a remarkable grasp of history and of foreign policy. Like all great men, regardless of profession, Woody Hayes understood the great forces that moved the world. . . . “

Wayne Woodrow (Woody) Hayes joined the Big Ten school in 1951, the school’s fifth coach in nine years. Ohio State had come to be called “The Graveyard of Coaches.”

Resurrected Football Program

He resurrected the football program, leading the team to 205 victories, losing 61 and tying 10 in 28 seasons. The Buckeyes won national championships in 1954 and 1968 and turned out 13 Big Ten champions while journeying to eight Rose Bowls.

Hayes came to his alma mater after successful seasons at Denison University, where he compiled a 19-6 record in 1946-48, and Miami of Ohio, which he took to a 14-5 mark in 1949-50.

In 33 years of college coaching, all in his native Ohio, he posted a 238-72-10 record. Only Paul (Bear) Bryant, with 323 wins, Amos Alonzo Stagg with 314 and Glenn (Pop) Warner with 313, won more major college football games.

But he was as controversial as he was successful, primarily because of a temper he admitted he never learned to control.

‘3 Yards, Cloud of Dust’

His brilliant football career, featuring punishing running offenses that came to be known as “three yards and a cloud of dust,” came to an end in 1978, a few hours after Ohio State lost the Gator Bowl to Clemson University.

In front of thousands in the stands and millions more in a national television audience, Hayes struck Charlie Bauman, a Clemson guard who was returning an intercepted pass late in the game. Hayes refused to apologize and was fired.

That was the final but not the only incident to mar Hayes’ career.

He was twice placed on probation by the Big Ten--in 1956 for making loans to his players and in 1977 for an altercation with an ABC-TV cameraman during a game at Michigan.

Chastised by Coaches Group

Hayes was also chastised in 1959 by the American Football Coaches Assn.'s ethics committee. He had been involved in a ruckus with two California sportswriters after a 17-0 loss to USC. And the Los Angeles Times filed assault charges against Hayes, charging that he had pushed a camera into the face of photographer Art Rogers prior to the 1973 Rose Bowl. The charges were later dropped.

But despite all the contentions, he was known as both a strict disciplinarian and a man who demanded and believed in loyalty as fiercely as he did in his coaching philosophy:

“Without winners,” he used to say, “there wouldn’t even be any goddamned civilization.”