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24 Club: The remarkable Woody Hayes

Hayes won more games than any other coach in Ohio State football history.

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 19th head coach — Woody Hayes.

Name: Woody Hayes
Seasons Coached: 28 (1951-78)
Overall Record: 205-61-10

Where Does He Rank in the 24 Club?
Overall Wins: No. 1 out of 24 OSU Coaches
Winning Percentage: No. 6 out of 24 OSU Coaches

Woody Hayes came to Ohio State in 1951 — and it looked like his tenure would be short-lived. Before coming to OSU, Hayes coached at Denison and Miami of Ohio. At each of those stops his teams developed a habit — get off to an unremarkable start, then turn a corner. His 2-6 season at Denison in 1946 was followed by 9-0 and 8-0 seasons. His 5-4 season at Miami in 1949 was followed by a 9-1 season.

Hayes’ Buckeyes also got off to an unremarkable start. In his first three seasons at the helm, Ohio State compiled a 16-9-2 record. Then the switch flipped. Hayes’ 1954 team went 10-0, won the Rose Bowl and captured OSU’s second national championship.

Over his 28 seasons as head coach of the Buckeyes, Hayes’ teams captured five national championships, 13 Big Ten titles and notched a 16-11-1 record against Michigan. Passionate and fiery, Hayes was a master motivator and relentless worker. His temper would eventually get the best of him and led to his dismissal after punching a Clemson player in the 1978 Gator Bowl.

Hayes won more national championships than all other Ohio State coaches combined. He coached longer and won more games than any other Buckeye coach. OSU had cycled through half a dozen coaches in 12 years before Hayes arrived. Hayes provided the coaching stability the program so desperately needed. Before Woody Hayes, Ohio State was a very good program. Coach Hayes turned Ohio State into the perennial Big Ten and national championship contender we know today.