The Day in 1978 that Coach Woody Hayes Went Berserk

Coach Woody Hayes was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

By Jim O’Neal

On Dec. 29, 1978, a Clemson player intercepted a last-minute Ohio State pass and Clemson went on to defeat the Buckeyes 17-15 in the Gator Bowl.

After the interception, OSU Coach Woody Hayes goes berserk and punches the Clemson player in the throat. Hayes then charges a game official and abuses him. Accounts vary as to exactly what was said.

Up until this time, teams under Coach Hayes at Ohio State University had won 13 Big 10 league titles and five National Championships. Coach Hayes had also won the College Football “Coach of the Year” three times (the award is now called the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award).

None of this seemed to matter the day after the game. Coach Hayes was fired after 28 years of outstanding service. However, this only pertained to football. He continued to both teach at OSU and mentored students. In 1983, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Players and coaches admired his spirit of competition and remind us that in 1968, while leading arch rival Michigan 44-14, OSU scored another touchdown and went for a two-point conversion. Accused of “running up the score,” Hayes was asked … why? Hayes quickly replied “because I couldn’t go for 3!”

OSU went on to win the game 50-14.

Incidentally, the quarterback who threw the interception that got Hayes fired, Art Schlichter, was a four-year starter at Ohio State and a first-round draft in the NFL. Schlichter had a terrible gambling addiction that started early and plagued him for 30 years. He lost all of his money (and all he could borrow) and was in and out of prison for a long time.

He was the first NFL player to be suspended for gambling after Alex Karras and Paul Hornung in 1963.

We rank him No. 4 on the all-time worst draft picks, a group that is headed up by No. 1 Ryan Leaf.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

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Hector Cantu

Hector Cantu was the editor of The Intelligent Collector magazine.

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