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 — Chic Harley and the unstoppable 1916 Buckeyes...
It was 1916 and Ohio State was entering its senior season in the Western Conference, the forerunner of the Big Ten Conference. In OSU’s first three seasons in the conference, the Buckeyes had taken important steps forward. Each year they improved. Good for a sixth place finish, a fourth place finish — and last year in 1915 — a third place finish, losing only a single game and drawing another.
The results were a testament to the coaching of John Wilce. Wilce starred at fullback at Wisconsin — and now led the Buckeyes as head coach. Importantly, Wilce championed a more open style of game that blended the forward pass with the run at a time when his contemporaries were still run-heavy. But for Wilce’s early success at OSU, he was still winless against the conference’s best teams — Wisconsin and Illinois.
Things were about to change. Now a local phenom stepped onto the varsity football field for the very first time in 1916 — his name was Chic Harley. Chic enrolled at Ohio State as a kind of athlete of folklore — the local hero from East High School set to take OSU to new heights. A five star, number-one running back recruit decades before recruiting rankings became an industry.
When Chic Harley stepped on the field, all of college football would never be the same.