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24 Club: Howard Jones, a one year wonder as OSU head coach

Ohio State’s ninth head coach had success on the field, but began a troubling trend for the program

Howard Jones as head coach of Yale in 1909. Jones coached Yale to an undefeated season and a national championship, before coming to Ohio State.

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 Ohio State’s ninth head coach Howard Jones — who became one of the game’s great coaches after leaving Ohio State.

Name: Howard Jones
Seasons Coached: One (1910)
Overall Record: 6-1-3

Where Does He Rank in the 24 Club?
Overall Wins: Tied No. 18 out of 24 OSU Coaches
Winning Percentage: No. 8 out of 24 OSU Coaches

Ohio State head coach Howard Jones didn’t really know how to lose. He never lost a game in his three seasons as a player at Yale from 1905-1907, claiming three national championships. He coached Syracuse to a winning record, then returned to Yale and coached them to an undefeated season and yet another national championship in 1909.

When the Buckeyes landed Howard Jones as head coach for the 1910 season, the school was excited to see what he could do. Jones kept up his winning ways and finished with a 6-1-3 record. Even when he didn’t win, he impressed. After nine-straight losses to the Wolverines, Jones’ Buckeyes played Michigan to a 3-3 draw — improving the Buckeyes grim record to 0-10-2 against the school up north. But after the successful year, Jones left to pursue a business opportunity outside coaching.

Jones had what it took to compete in big time college athletics, but his biggest mark was made after he coached Ohio State. He returned to the coaching ranks in 1913, and led Iowa to undefeated seasons in 1921 and 1922. From 1925 to 1940, he coached at USC — earning a perfect 5-0 record in the Rose Bowl and four national championships. Fittingly, the coach that didn’t really know how to lose was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The hall of fame coach left a legacy at Ohio State that was more mixed. Jones’ tenure was the start of a troubling trend at OSU — a string of head coaches who succeeded on the field but then left the program after a single season. Jones was a one year wonder for the Buckeyes — but one can’t help to wonder what he would have been able to accomplish had he not left after a single season.