Over the past month or so I have written articles about all three of the legendary former coaches to lead the Scarlet and Gray on the gridiron. I touched on a great many things from Earle Bruce’s rise from high school to college; to coach Cooper finally understanding what it means to be a Buckeye; and about coach Tressel and his wife Ellen’s lifetime of charity.
What I didn’t cover very much of was the perception of their best and worst moments. I have invited some of my good friends to tell their side of the story. I have asked our own Mali, the newly formed Buckeye Empire’s own Chris Holloway and Grant Edgell, as well as the man who let me cut my writing teeth on the Buckeyes in Maurice Womak from Our Buckeye Hub.
I have asked each of them to describe to us what their perception of these moments are and have purposely left out coach Tressel’s worst moment. I didn’t feel like this was something needing covered or rehashed and to my comrads credit? Not a single one pointed out to me that I left it off the round table list. Let’s get started with Mr. Nine and Three.
What is your perception of Earle Bruce’s best moment as a head coach?
Mali- To be honest, Coach Bruce’s continuation of Coach Hayes’ traditions and attitudes have always been what stood out to me about his tenure. There’s a reason he’s invited back yearly during “The Game” week… and in spite of his struggles in the match up, he of all people understands the importance of what it means to represent the state of Ohio.
Chris Holloway – This is easy. Earle knew that this time at Ohio State was over. He had one last chance for glory, and he inspired his team to win. In Ann Arbor no less. When you think about it, and then consider that from that game, until Jim Tressel did it in his first year, the Buckeyes failed to beat the Wolverines in the Big House, that says something.
WVaBuckeye – it’s a long moment in Buckeye lore. I remember him replacing Coach Hayes and the time and energy he put into putting all of the fans and players at ease by reminding them who taught him how to coach. He was, is, and always will be the ultimate Woody disciple. He has carried the torch for Coach Hayes for all this time and it continues to have an effect on current coaches.
His worst moment? Read More
He’s definitely had one of the least liked exits as a head coach in Ohio State history and has continued to this day to love THE Ohio State University in spite of the way he was treated.
From being a player for the Buckeyes in the early 1950′s to local prognosticator on Columbus radio recently, he has never been shy about his love affair with the Scarlet and Gray.
He has an amazing coaching tree that has literally come full circle in bringing Urban Meyer back to the beginning of his coaching roots.
One things for sure, there may not be anybody that’s ever been as much of a Buckeye that Coach Earle Bruce is.
Coach Bruce suffered one of the worst fates for a football player but it clearly set forth a path to something greater. He played full back at tOSU in 1949 on the Wes Fesler coached freshmen team but suffered a knee injury before his sophomore season and never saw the field. Woody Hayes clearly saw something special in Coach Bruce and offered him a position on the staff until he graduated in 1953.
That experience in itself set forth a coaching career that began at Mansfield HS as an assistant. He then was hired as the head coach at Salem HS in 1956 and began one of the best head coaching careers in Ohio High School history. After going 28 – 9 at Salem and then 34-3-3 at Sandusky HS, Coach Bruce moved on to Massillon where he set a standard to never be matched in Tiger football lore. During his two seasons at Massillon HS in 1964 and 1965 the Tigers were undefeated and back to back state champions. He is the only undefeated head coach in Tigers history. Check out the original bio put together by the Massillon Tigers Cyber Review. Read More
Ok, not to be “that guy”, but like many Buckeye fans I find myself with a huge amount of trepidation regarding Saturday’s game.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a believer in The Wolf’s mantra about counting chickens, or perhaps it’s because I want to be more satisfied with my cheering/viewing experience. Either way, I’m not seeing this game as the blowout that many fans from both sides are.
Since my therapist and the voices in my head tell me that it’s good to “talk these types of things through”, let me give you a couple of reasons that we should remember that The Game means throwing out the record books.
Ok, that was depressing… and eye opening. Two more reasons to never EVER take The Game lightly, these with better endings.
With all the rumors swirling around TTUN, with the sense of desperation around the team and the coaching staff, there’s no better time to remember the wisdom of St. Woody-
“The time you give a man something he doesn’t earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”
This year, as always, victory in The Game must be earned.
On the nineteenth day of pre-season, the Buckeyes gave to me…
An eighteen year NFL veteran and 1999 Pro Bowler.
And, just so you don’t think I’m somehow fixated on kickers (it could be worse…), my memories of him come from a better, more productive time.
As a kid, the first Buckeye quarterback that remember really paying attention to was Tupa. I just thought it was cool that when he was back to punt, you could never really rule out the fake.
Although his leg is more than likely what allowed him to be a part of the Buckeye Grove, I recall an important day in 1987- the last game of Sir Earle of Bruce. Luckily, the amazing archives at OHD saved the moment for us and for our “friends” up north:
Tom, thanks for the great legacy, for your important part in honoring Coach Bruce, and for getting us through this nineteenth day.
I grew up with the name Chris Spielman dominating the news. When I was in junior high, he was a running back and a linebacker at Massillon High School, a mere seven miles from my house. He humiliated both offenses and defenses across the state week after week. Guys in this town still have nightmares from when they were 16 year-old kids and would get punished having to try and tackle him on Friday night. They don’t talk about getting tackled by him because the concussion took that memory away.
Dude was even on a Wheaties box before he turned 18.
Then he chose Ohio State. Actually, his father told him to choose Ohio State or “never come home again”. Spielman was apparently considering that school up north.
In 1986 he was all over the field against Michigan, recording 29 tackles in a single game. No, that’s not a misprint. 29 tackles in one game.
So by the time I got to see him up close for the first time, he was a legend.
In 1987, I went up to Michigan Stadium to see the Buckeyes/Wolverines game. Four days earlier, Ohio State had fired head coach Earle Bruce and it was considered a travesty in every part of Ohio except the university president’s office. The players were pissed, and they were fully supporting Bruce.
During pre-game warmups that cold morning, we were right along the end zone wall, screaming for our Bucks. The players (who, in solidarity, had all put on white headbands with the name “Earle” emblazoned upon it in black Sharpie) were fired up and loving the atmosphere of the day. Hundreds of high-fives and hugs being exchanged between players and fans. It was electric.
Except for Spielman.
I have never seen a scarier sight in my life than when #36 came near our corner of the end zone. The look in his eyes was of pure anger and pure hunger. Nobody reached out to wish Spielman luck. They were too afraid of him. He looked as if he would literally plunge a rusty 6-inch shank in your jugular vein if you got in his way.
We were terrified of him and we were on the same freaking team.
And then we watched Michigan’s offense try to use only half of the field, constantly running to the side of the field that didn’t have a guy named Spielman on it. They clearly remembered the attack they had witnessed in 1986 (seriously, 29 tackles!) and tried their best to avoid a repeat.
That day, Spielman and the rest of the Buckeyes gave Bruce his final win at Ohio State, beating Bo Schembechler 23-20. Thanks, Chris!
36 days until kickoff!
This morning, our old friends at Eleven Warriors published a brilliant piece on John Cooper and his recent induction in the College Football Hall Of Fame.
Of course, you can’t write a Cooper-based piece with using the numbers 2, 10, and 1. 11W did that. Sprinkled around the article is a list of Coop’s accomplishments, and The BBC will not argue with the fact that these feats qualify our former coach for the HOF.
But our disagreements about Cooper end there. I haven’t yet forgiven Coach for many of his failures and perhaps I still hold too much of a grudge….but my frustration with him hasn’t faded.
My freshman year at The Ohio State University was 1987. Earle Bruce had a team with minimal talent and he caught a few horrible breaks that year (seriously, a TD on 4th-and-23 to Iowa….in The Shoe). But four days after the administration fired Bruce, his team went up to Michigan Stadium and beat Bo Schembechler. With Greg freaking Frey taking snaps, no less.
My sophomore year was Cooper’s first year, and the season hadn’t even begun before Cooper’s heart was being questioned. I recall an article in The Lantern in which Cooper was openly mocking students who had casually reminded him that he shouldn’t be wearing a blue blazer around campus. Rather than run to complain to the student newspaper, he should have pulled aside any one of his assistant coaches or players and asked them why it was so important to ditch the blue (and/or maize) colored apparel.
When the season began, the first three games would tell you all you needed to know.
The Buckeyes were schizophrenic under Cooper and when they finally captured some sort of consistency, it wasn’t the type of consistency we wanted to see.
John Cooper, during the off-season, was a brilliant recruiter and nobody could ever (and possibly will ever again) put together a team like he could. Every amazing player you saw in the 1990s was brought to Columbus through the charm and brilliance of John Cooper. Eddie George. David Boston. Orlando Pace. Shawn Springs. Joey Galloway. Etc, etc, etc.
But where we may have been the most talented team on the field every single Saturday, that talent was often wasted with poor coaching decisions time and time again. Let’s not forget…..
I could actually go on and on for a long time. I’m sure you could too. Cooper’s issues are a novel waiting to be written.
Eleven Warriors closes their article with “if you can’t at least bring yourself to recognize and appreciate the good that Cooper did at Ohio State, then you’re either clueless, or hold irrationally long grudges. Neither is healthy.”
11W is right….Cooper deserves to be in the Hall Of Fame. But let me be the first to stand up and say that while I recognize and appreciate the good that Cooper did, I am not at all prepared to forgive him for the shame and humiliation brought upon us by him.
To this day, I still can’t figure out why we haven’t hired him to be a recruiter for Ohio State, and then put a restraining order on him every Saturday afternoon in the fall to prevent him from showing up at Ohio Stadium.
Bobby Olive was a wide receiver for the Buckeyes from 1988-1991. Freshman year, he got his shot after making the team as a walk-on (he was recruited by Earle Bruce, then had to fight for his spot under John Cooper). Made two HUGE catches for OSU….caught the game-winning TD against LSU in 1988 when we were down 13 points with 2 minutes to play, and caught the game-winning TD at Iowa with one second left on the clock in 1991.
He spent 5 years in the NFL and now is the head coach of the Canton Legends, an arena football team in Canton, Ohio.
Yesterday, I got the chance to talk to him about this year’s Buckeyes and what he sees in the near future.
His comments about Michigan State were pure Scarlet and Gray. He doesn’t see a snowball’s chance in hell for the Spartans, and when I asked about the historical factor of 1998, he scoffed. He blamed that entire defeat on John Cooper. Cooper called off the dogs and relaxed, and it cost the Buckeyes a National Championship that day.
“No way will Tressel ever let that happen to one of his teams,” were his exact words. He also made it clear to me that Cooper didn’t understand the Big Ten and he certainly didn’t understand Michigan.
Now, we all know that as fans of the Buckeyes….but isn’t it comforting to know that the players know it too???