Sunday, November 13, 2005

Woody Hayes: The King Of Outrageous TV Moments

Just about any fan of college football will tell you that Woody Hayes was nothing less than a legend. He was head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes for 27 years--a record that no other coach at the university has ever matched. He had a brilliant mind for gridiron strategy which led to 5 national championships for The Ohio State University. Woody Hayes was also something of a loose cannon whose foul temper led to several outrageous moments in live television.

During Hayes' 1951-1978 tenure, an NCAA ruling prohibited any school from nationally televising more than two games per year. For this reason, many of his outbursts were not broadcast live. But even off-camera, the Hayes temper was something of legend. Whenever the Buckeyes were losing, almost like clockwork, the coach would fly into a rage and destroy headphones, wooden chairs, and yard markers. Late in his career, he began to attack people.

Three of these tantrums were captured on live television. Here, then, are Woody Hayes' greatest "hits."

3. Punching The Cameraman
One of the more intense rivalries in college football is between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines. Each year, both teams end their seasons with a climatic matchup. During the 1976 game, Michigan was ahead in the fourth quarter and Hayes did not like it one little bit. Noticing a cameraman capturing his cursing and sputtering, the coach strutted 30 feet to the photographer and punched him in the belly. The incident was captured by two cameras, and instant replays showed the punch both from a distance and from the vantage point of the stricken.

2. Threatening The Reporter
At the start of the 1978 season, Woody Hayes had just turned 65. There was much speculation about his future. As a live press conference unfolded on the six-o'clock news, Columbus-area TV reporter Marty Reid made the mistake of asking Hayes about his plans for retirement. The matchup was pure David and Goliath. Reid was a small and mousy twenty-something while Hayes was a rather burly and feisty senior. Rather than resorting to fisticuffs, the coach blasted away with words; "If you were a real man, I'd take you outside and show you a thing or two, but since you're such a little pipsqueak, I won't waste my time."

1. Punching The Player
Thanks to a rather mediocre 1978 season, The Buckeyes' Rose Bowl hopes were dashed, so they accepted a Gator Bowl invitation as consolation. During the December 29 game, Ohio State trailed Clemson 15-17 in the fourth quarter. Ohio State had the ball, and was on Clemson's 24 yard line when linebacker Charlie Bauman on defense intercepted a pass from Buckeye Art Schlichter. As Bauman stepped out of bounds into Woody Hayes' personal space, the coach lost it and punched the player in the throat. Two days after the game, The Ohio State University asked Hayes to resign, and he did so, thus ending a 28-year-career and an era of outrageous moments on live TV.


Blogger Daniel [] said...

Actually, in the response to Reid, Hayes continued “People are fickle. There has been nobody around in this league or in any other league who has won as much as I have. If you're one of those 56 percent,* I don't care much about you either. And if you don't like, you can go straight to Hell!†”

At this point, he charged after Reid, who fled the room. It wasn't self-control of Hayes's part that had prevented fisticuffs in this case.

*The reference to a “56 percent” came because Warner/Amex Qube, an interactive cable service, had polled its viewers, and 56% of respondents had said that Hayes should retire. The day after Hayes attacked Reid, Qube had another poll, and fans rallied to Hayes's defense, with 58% saying that he should not retire.

†Hayes spoke with a pronounced lisp, so this actually came out as “You can go thraight to Hell!

6:14 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Razor said...

Daniel, thank you for the further clarification. I wrote this from memory and had forgotten the follow-up. You are quite correct about Coach Hayes' mild speech impediment. His speaking voice somewhat resembled Ronald Reagan with a lisp.

7:47 AM  

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