| || |
A fitting tribute for Woody
February 13, 2013 - Jim Smith
The Ohio State University is going to recognize Woody Hayes on his 100th birthday by placing an 8-foot-tall bronze statue of the legendary football coach outside the athletic center that bears his name.
The 800-pound statue has been in the works for more than five years to honor the coach who served the university for 28 seasons. Hayes died in 1987, but will long be remembered as the heart and soul of the Buckeyes on the football field.
Unfortunately his emotion got the best of him and he left the program under a dark cloud.
I had the great joy of knowing Woody, not as a football coach but as the grandfatherly figure who lived near a friend's home and who we often saw reading military histories and biographies while relaxing in his backyard.
When I was installed as the presiding officer of my DeMolay Chapter when I was a senior in high school, I asked Woody if he would speak at the dinner. His answer showed his true nature when he said he would on one condition ... no media because "it's your night, not mine."
Years later a different Woody telephoned me when I was the police reporter for the former Columbus Citizen-Journal and was putting together a story on his star quarterback's legal problems with traffic tickets, hundreds of parking tickets and gambling. Woody was not very pleasant on the phone and used comments I never could quote.
Interestingly, though, I saw him later at a party and he was back to his old self, being that grandfatherly figure I remembered from years earlier.
Woody Hayes, to me, will always be remembered as that gentleman who spoke at my installation dinner and I saw reading in his backyard, not as the coach who attacked an opposing player or verbally assaulted me for doing a story on his quarterback.
But to most people Woody Hayes WAS OSU football and always will be and for that reason the statue is a fitting tribute.
Post a Comment