All About Richland

My Ride With Woody Hayes

25 Nov , 2022  

From 1812Blockhouse Publisher Thomas Palmer:

This weekend’s annual OSU-Michigan game, with both teams ranked high in national polls, is sure to be just as hard fought as ever.

I for one cannot watch those games without a flashback or two of watching Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler on the sidelines.

Speaking of Coach Hayes, I am reminded of an evening many, many years ago when I had occasion to meet and spend time with the man himself. The episode began on a crisp late fall evening as I sat quietly on a bench waiting for a bus.

First, a bit of background. I was a freshman music major at OSU and a member of the OSU Marching Band; I marched sousaphone and was a member of the OSUMB’s infamous “K Row.” It had been an amazing year; while I had made the band, it was as an “alternate” (typical for a freshman). Two or three days before the first game for the band, a senior bandsman had been disciplined and sidelined. A “march off” was held for alternates to select his replacement and I was chosen to march for the very first time in that year’s edition of the OSUMB.

So, on my first game as a member of the band, I found myself doing the full pregame including the ramp entrance and Script Ohio in front of 85,000 plus screaming fans. That year found the OSUMB preforming the first double Script Ohio – something I remember quite well – and the first Script Ohio performed at a World Series game.

Back to that bench. It was after dark, and I was waiting for the shuttle to West Campus on a wooden bench behind the former Ohio Union. After five or so minutes, another person sat down beside me on the bench to wait. He struck up a conversation.

It did take me a minute or two to realize that I was talking with OSU Football coach Woody Hayes. Once that awareness hit me, I concentrated on remaining calm. He inquired about my classes. Once I mentioned that I was a music major, he inquired as to whether I was in the marching band. When he found out that I was, he proceeded to tell me how much the team appreciated the band and what a difference it made to their performance each game.

I honestly do not remember other topics we discussed, but we talked for several minutes before the bus arrived, and then continued in conversation all the way to his exit — probably a half hour in total. I remember being shocked at how “down to earth” he was, and how genuinely he seemed interested in my experience at OSU.

A few days later, the OSUMB attended the fall Football Banquet. I beamed with pride when Coach Hayes recognized and greeted me.

It’s a small anecdote about a giant of Ohio State history. Still, to this day it makes me smile.

Go Bucks!

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