Remembering Woody Hayes during Michigan week

Whenever I think of the Ohio State-Michigan football game, one image always comes to mind: Woody Hayes.

Hayes really hated the Wolverines, and Michigan week was always the most important time of the season for him.

He wanted to beat the Wolverines badly, and the bombastic coach had no trouble getting that message across to his players.

To find out more about Hayes, particularly in his pre-Ohio State coaching years, I turned to two experts on the subject.

Carmen Cozza played for Hayes at Miami of Ohio in 1949 and ‘50, and Cozza himself later went on to a Hall of Fame career as head coach at Yale University.

“Woody Hayes is best described as ‘tough love,’” Cozza told me recently. “He was a perfectionist. He would make us run a play 20 times in practice until we got it right. He was very tough on us during practice, but would do anything if any of us were in need.

“One day he would tear you apart and the next day make you feel you were the very best.”

Ara Parseghian was hired by Hayes to be his freshman coach at Miami, and Parseghian would later go on to become one of the greatest college coaches of all time, winning two national titles at Notre Dame.

“Woody hired me in February of 1950 as freshman coach at Miami. I worked spring practice, then in the fall I used the freshmen as the scout team for the varsity in practice,” Parseghian told me recently. “The freshmen had five games so my work was split up. Through observation, Woody was a tenacious recruiter, but showed some emotional outbursts as we saw when he was at Ohio State. We became fierce competitors when I was later (head coach) at Northwestern.

“Woody was responsible for me replacing him at Miami (as head coach in 1951) … he went to bat for me,” Parseghian added. “Woody was a good guy but prone to outbursts. I recall learning from him by watching and listening to him.”


Woody Hayes definitely would not have approved of the Buckeyes’ performance against Michigan State in a 17-14 home loss last Saturday.

Ohio State’s seemingly-talented offense had been shaky the first 10 games against a schedule of unranked opponents, and everything fell apart against the ninth-ranked Spartans.

The Buckeyes never overcame the loss of offensive coordinator Tom Herman from last year’s national championship team, and head coach Urban Meyer should have taken a more active role in the play-calling long before the Michigan State game.


Trivia Time – Monday Night Football commentator Jon Gruden played college football at the University of Dayton.

This week’s question – For which pro football team did Ara Parseghian play?

By Steve Stout

Reach Steve Stout at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @udcstout