Ohio State football has an unrivaled tradition and history. Now, it’s time to relive those epic moments once more. Each Monday over the next eight weeks, you can listen to 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 — John Wilce’s Buckeyes Defend Newly Opened Ohio Stadium
As he had done countless times before, OSU coach John Wilce walked onto a football field. Wilce was already a legend. Now in 1922, he entered his 10th season leading the Buckeye program — and what a run it had been. He coached Ohio State to conference championships in 1916 and 1917 under the dashing and dazzling runs of All-American halfback Chic Harley. Wilce’s team was doing more than winning Big Ten Championships, they were breaking curses. The jinx that had plagued the Buckeyes — a 0-13-2 record against the Wolverines — ended in Ann Arbor in 1919 as Harley raced into the endzone and the history books, sparking the rivalry to come.
Wilce proved that he was building a program that transcended an individual player. With Harley graduated, halfback Pete Stinchcomb picked up the torch and illuminated the path forward to capture another championship in 1920 and the Buckeyes first ever trip to the Rose Bowl. The grandstands of Ohio Field — where the men of scarlet and gray were now so dominant — overflowed. With ticket demand soaring — and more than a million dollars of public funding raised — a new stadium would be built. Steel was erected, concrete poured, and the clang of work shadowed over the 1921 season.
The work was done in 1922. A new stadium stood. Now, Wilce’s Buckeyes took the field against the Wolverines for the dedication game to defend their new home. The game and the seasons to follow would test Wilce and the Ohio State program like never before.