There have been 24 head coaches in the history of Ohio State football. Each has a story and legacy. This offseason, Land-Grant Holy Land’s new series 24 Club will help you get to know the coaches from past and present who built the program. Today we look back at OSU’s second head coach, and first-ever paid coach: Jack Ryder.
Name: Jack Ryder
Seasons Coached: Five (1892-1895, 1898)
Overall Record: 22-22-1 (.500)
Where Does He Rank in the 24 Club?
Overall Wins: No. 10 (tied) out of 24 OSU Coaches
Winning Percentage: No. 21 (tied) out of 24 OSU Coaches
$10 used to go a lot further back in the day. In 1892, it would pay for a world-class head football coach. That was the state of things when Jack Ryder took Ohio State football to new heights in his first full season coaching. At that time the OSU program was only three years old. Under Ryder, the 1892 squad finished with a 5-3 record — the first winning season in school history.
Ryder modernized the program in recognizable ways. The Nov. 29, 1892 edition of The Lantern reported on his success guiding the still fledgling Buckeye program:
“The securing of an able coach, the organization of two elevens, the establishing of a training table, and the enforcement of wise training rules—all this has contributed to give our football team such a standing as she has never had before.
Two years ago she played her first championship football games and then she took last place. Last year she won third place, and now this year closes with her a tie for first place. This is certainly a story of honorable progress and one to be proud of.”
Ryder coached for four years from 1892-1895, served in the Spanish-American War, then returned to coach a final season at OSU in 1898.
Ryder also had a big influence on another Ohio school. He went on to become a journalist at The Cincinnati Enquirer. He was mostly a baseball guy covering the Reds, but in 1919 he covered a college football game between Cincinnati and Tennessee. In his game write up he called Cincinnati a novel name: the Bearcats. The reference wasn’t totally random. Years earlier, Cinci had a star fullback named Leonard “Teddy” Baehr, which led to the cheer, “Come on, Baehr-cat!” When Baehr graduated, the name went away. That is until Ryder brought it back — and the name stuck for good.
So it was. Jack Ryder led OSU football to its first winning season, and as a second act he gave Cincinnati an identity. It would not be the last time that a former OSU coach made things better for the Bearcats.