Ohio State football has an unrivaled tradition and history. Now, it’s time to relive those epic moments once more. Each Monday over the coming weeks, you can listen to a new episode from Season 2 of I Want to Go Back — Land-Grant Holy Land’s exclusive podcast series that brings to life the greatest lost stories from Ohio State football history. This season, we’ll go back to OSU’s rise to power in the early days of the Big Ten Conference.
On this week’s episode — a legend arrives on campus...
The Ohio State football program was taking on water leading into the 1913 season. The program was about to take a major step up in conference play — moving from playing the powers of Ohio in the Ohio Athletic Conference to the powers of the Midwest in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, OSU had become a revolving door for head coaches — three consecutive coaches left after a single season. The biggest blow of all happened after the 1912 season.
Ohio State put its faith in head coach Big John Richards to lead the team as it prepared to join the Western Conference. The West was the forerunner to the Big Ten and the Buckeyes were set to start conference play during the 1913 season. Coach Richards played and coached at Wisconsin and knew what he was doing from the sidelines. Ohio State finished as conference champs in 1912 in their final season as members of the Ohio Athletic Conference. But Richards, the coaching magician, saved his greatest trick for the offseason: he decided to disappear. Big John quit to pursue a business opportunity in Chicago.
Now the Buckeyes were again on the hunt for a new head coach. A coach who could bring stability to the program. A coach who could recruit top talent. A coach that could help the program take the next step against the ferocious step-up in competition in the Western Conference. OSU didn’t have a lot of time to find the right fit. The moves Ohio State made next built the program we know today.