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24 Club: Ohio State’s third football coach Charles Hickey had a disappointing one-year tenure

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Ohio State’s third head coach found success playing against doctors and dentists, but not many others.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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 meet Ohio State’s third head coach — Charles Hickey.


Name: Charles Hickey
Seasons Coached: One (1896)
Overall Record: 5-5-1

Where Does He Rank in the 24 Club?
Overall Wins: No. 20 (tied) out of 24 OSU Coaches
Winning Percentage: No. 21 (tied) out of 24 OSU Coaches


Hickey’s tenure as Ohio State’s third head coach was short. Medical student Sid Farrer served as OSU’s interim head coach until the Buckeyes hired Hickey several games into the 1896 season. It was fortunate OSU had a medical student on hand because the season was a painful one.

Under Hickey, the Buckeyes finished with a mediocre 5-5-1 record. Remarkably, OSU played Ohio Medical University three times that season, winning twice and tying another.

Who exactly was Ohio Medical?

Years later, Ohio Medical merged with a competitor — Starling Medical College — to form Starling-Ohio Medical College. Ohio State President William Oxley Thompson became President of Starling-Ohio Medical College, and, in 1914, he was instrumental in Starling-Ohio Medical College becoming OSU’s College of Medicine, and College of Dentistry. That’s a long way of saying that the Buckeyes achieved a .500 record under coach Hickey by beating up on OSU’s future medical and dental schools.

Hickey became disinterested in the head coaching role after a year and was fired. His legacy is a forgettable one. Hickey ranks near the bottom of OSU coaches in wins and winning percentage. His departure also started a three year stretch from 1896-1898 where OSU’s head coach left after a single season. Hickey’s tenure was forgettable, but his successor would prove much, much worse.