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 at the worst coach in OSU history — David Farragut Edwards.
Name: David Farragut Edwards
Seasons Coached: One (1897)
Overall Record: 1-7-1
Where Does He Rank in the 24 Club?
Overall Wins: No. 24 out of 24 OSU Coaches
Winning Percentage: No. 24 out of 24 OSU Coaches
David Farragut Edwards won a national championship playing halfback at Princeton. He was a brilliant lawyer. He was also the worst coach in Ohio State football history. The Buckeyes hit rock bottom under coach Edwards in the early days of the program going 1-7-1 in 1897. To this day, that record stands as the worst single season in OSU history. A low note was a 34-0 loss to Michigan in the first ever meeting between the two teams. Edwards was fired at the end of the season, but the damage was already done.
Things got so bad that Ohio State President James Canfield suspended athletics altogether. The Athletic Association was in debt, driven by low attendance at football games. OSU’s president wanted the debt paid off before restarting athletics. Students strung together fundraisers to pay off the debt and soon athletics were up and running again.
Coach Edwards couldn’t cut it at Ohio State — so where did he go next? Texas. In spite of his one win season at OSU, the Longhorns hired Edwards to be their head coach.
Surprisingly, Edwards’ team at Texas excelled. They finished the 1898 season 5-1. But, in Texas lore Coach Edwards is remembered for one other thing. Edwards didn’t like Texas’ orange and white colors — and tried to change the Longhorn’s colors to maroon and orange. Fans were outraged, and the move predictably backfired. A movement built over the next two years that resulted in Texas eventually adopting orange and white as their official colors.
Even in winning at Texas, Edwards found a way to lose. And — just as he had at Ohio State — after one season at the helm of the Longhorns, Edwards was out. He would never coach again.
Nevertheless, of Texas’ 30 head coaches all-time, Edwards holds the sixth best winning percentage. By comparison, Tom Herman ranks No. 24 out of 30 UT coaches by the same metric. Apparently some OSU coaches have found the transition to coaching the Longhorns easier than others.