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Former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce remembered as a tough, loving father figure

Also, shocker: Ohio State and Alabama are the two best when it comes to recent NFL drafts!

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

“And in the midst of the anecdotes about the man who gave him his start in college coaching, Meyer touched on a quote from Bruce from long ago that he said sustains him to this day.

″‘When given an opportunity, you swing as hard as you can and give it everything you’ve got,’ ” Meyer said.”

-Tim May, The Columbus Dispatch

The speakers at today’s public memorial service for the late Hall of Fame football coach Earle Bruce at Ohio State’s St. John Arena remembered a man who was the consummate teacher, mentor, and father-figure. Former OSU and NFL cornerback William White said of his former coach, “Him and coach Tressel, they’re like my second dad. They recruited me ... they’ve always been a part of my life. This was very meaningful to me. He was a great guy.”

That familial spirit that White still holds for Bruce— and Jim Tressel who was an assistant under Bruce— was also felt by the former 2002 National Championship-winning head coach himself. He said that the single word that best described Bruce was “loyalty.”

“When you were a part of him, whether you were a university or a city, a spouse, a kid, an assistant coach, a friend, a media colleague,” Tressel said, “once you were a part of him, kind of like you know God will never give up on you? Well, Earle will never give up on you.”

That loyalty and family connection didn’t only apply to those in the Ohio State community. After being fired from OSU in 1987, Bruce spent the ‘88 season as the head coach at Northern Iowa, before holding the same position at Colorado State from 1989-92. During his first season in Fort Collins, Bruce had a 1,000-yard rusher named Tony Alford.

When another Bruce protege, Urban Meyer, was looking to hire a running backs coach, he offered the position Alford, then a Notre Dame assistant. While Alford was deciding whether he should leave South Bend or not, he got a call from Bruce, who didn’t hesitate to make his opinion on the situation known.

“Let me help you. Stop thinking, son,” Bruce said according to Alford. “It’s time to come home. Do you understand me?′”

After Alford hung up with his former coach, he turned to his wife and said, “I guess we’re moving.”

Though current Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio wasn’t one of the featured speakers, as an Ohio State graduate assistant in 1983-84, his former boss had a lasting impact on the trajectory of his career.

“And a lot of the things that have happened to me along the way in coaching is really a result of being here with him,” Dantonio told The Dispatch. “I learned a lot of life lessons from him. He was a special guy. He brought it every day.”

Others who eulogized the legendary coach included his grandson, Zach Smith (Ohio State’s current wide receivers coach), Matt McCoy (Bruce’s former radio partner), and longtime Columbus sports anchor, Dom Tiberi.

While their connections with coach Bruce were all different, whether it was player, coach, media member, or grandson, all of the day’s speakers spoke of Earle Bruce showering them an unending love. But, that’s exactly the type of man Smith said that his grandfather was.

“He loved his family, his players, his coaches, the fans,” Smith said. “And he hated no one, except Michigan.”

“No college has signed more eventual first-round picks in the NFL Draft than Urban Meyer has during his time with Ohio State, but in terms of total draft picks Ohio State and Alabama are tied for first nationally over the last three years.”

-Rich Exner,

With the NFL Draft tomorrow, and another Buckeye expected to be taken in the first 15 or so picks in Denzel Ward, now’s a good time to put the recent run of Ohio State’s NFL success into a more national perspective.

As you can see, the OSU football program is wisely using the pro success of its former players— and the big dollar contracts that they’ve signed— as a way to recruit the best talent to Columbus, and there is no doubt that the proverb of recruiting being the “lifeblood” of college athletics is proven out by that $700 million figure.

Top recruiting classes —> successful programs —> lots of NFL Draft picks. Since the 2015 draft— the first that featured players signed by Urban Meyer at Ohio State— the Buckeyes and the Alabama Crimson Tide of dominated just about every NFL Draft-related metric.

OSU leads the way with eight first round selections in that time period; Alabama is second with six. The two blue-blood programs are tied for the most total draft picks with 24, and ‘Bama leads the Buckeyes in a weighted breakdown of draftees by three points; the third-place Florida Gators— featuring more than a few Meyer recruits— are 28 points behind OSU.

While the Tide has certainly had more success when it comes to claiming National Championships; the 2015 head-to-head matchup notwithstanding; it is clear that there is a hierarchy in college football recruiting and pro prospect preparation; it’s the big two of Ohio State and Alabama, and everyone else.

“Ohio State Women’s basketball player Kelsey Mitchell and wrestler Kyle Snyder have been named Ohio State’s winners of the 2018 Big Ten Medal of Honor.”

-Ohio State Athletics

Despite the incredible successes that Ohio State athletics have had across its programs over the decades, you would be hard pressed to find two more dominant athletes than Kelsey Mitchell and Kyle Snyder.

Mitchell scored the second-most points in NCAA women’s basketball history and is the OSU women’s program’s only four-time All-American. On the wrestling mat, Snyder is “the only American to ever finish college as a three-time NCAA Champion, Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time World Champion.”

However, this week, both received another esteemed recognition as they were named Ohio State’s Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients. The award, which has been given out since 1915, is bestowed upon one men’s and one women’s graduating student-athlete from each B1G institution who has “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.”

As Mitchell prepares for her first season in the WNBA as a member of the Indiana Fever, and Snyder prepares to continue his wrestling career on the international stage, they are sure to pick up more and more awards, but as one of— if not the— last accolades of their college careers, it is nice to see two of the most important Buckeyes in athletic department history be honored as such.