The 100 Year War: Ohio St. vs. Michigan

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 17, 2003

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Bo Schembechler swivels in his chair to the right and smiles at a picture of him and Woody Hayes, then chuckles as he points at their bobblehead dolls on his desk.

''I love that guy,'' Schembechler says.

Woody and Bo.

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Bo and Woody.

The teams they coached - Ohio State and Michigan - meet for the 100th time on Saturday, and the 10 games featuring Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler are remembered as the highlight of the series.

The Buckeyes or Wolverines were in the Rose Bowl each year the two legendary coaches dueled for a win in one of college football's greatest rivalries from 1969-78. Hayes won five, lost four and tied once.

Seven times, both teams played ''The Game'' ranked in the Top 10.

The Wolverines snapped Ohio State's 22-game winning streak in 1969 and ended the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes' hopes of a second consecutive national championship. The Buckeyes gave Michigan its only loss in 1970, 1972 and 1974. Both ended their seasons 10-0-1 in 1973 after tying.

Before and after Hayes and Schembechler led the two storied programs, Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl berths often have been at stake. But those coaches added extra drama.

''It was a very personal rivalry,'' says former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, who played for Hayes, coached for him and succeeded him. ''And for the first and only time, it was as much about the coaches as it was about the game.

''Bo and Woody were very close because Bo played for Woody at Miami of Ohio, then coached with him at Ohio State. But their friendship was put on hold when Bo took the Michigan job because it was the protege against mentor.''

Schembechler leans forward and in his familiar gravelly voice says: ''It doesn't get any better than that, does it?''

For Jim Mandich, it didn't.

Mandich experienced the most-humiliating moment of his career - and the best - at Michigan in 1968 and 1969.

Ohio State beat the Wolverines 50-14 in 1968. When Hayes was asked why he went for a 2-point conversion late in the game, he said: ''Because I couldn't go for 3.''

The next season, Schembechler's first in Ann Arbor, Michigan shocked the top-ranked Buckeyes 24-12.

''Going for 2 points in '68 may have been the best thing Woody ever did for us and the Schembechler era,'' Mandich says. ''It infuriated us and was a huge spark for Bo's new program.''

Mandich says beating the Buckeyes in 1969 was ''the most thrilling experience of my life,'' even though he went on to win three Super Bowl rings, including one with the 1972 Miami Dolphins, still the only undefeated team in NFL history.

''It's not even close,'' Mandich says. ''It was the signature event of my life.''

Many sports fans can probably close their eyes and see Woody and Bo stalk the sidelines.

Hayes with a scarlet red ''O'' on a black baseball hat in a white, short-sleeved button-down shirt and tie. Schembechler sporting a maize block ''M'' on his navy blue ballcap.

''They acted exactly alike,'' says John Hicks, who played at Ohio State from 1970-73. ''They both grumbled, complained and cussed all game. And, everybody loved one or hated the other in Ohio and Michigan.''

Hayes and Schembechler often gave officials an earful - and fans plenty to watch. When the Wolverines intercepted a pass to seal a 10-7 win in 1971, Hayes was livid that pass interference was not called against them. He tore apart sideline markers because he said it was the worst call he had ever seen.

Hayes' successful career ended in an infamous way after Clemson beat Ohio State on Dec. 29, 1978, in the Gator Bowl.

After Clemson's Charlie Bauman intercepted a pass and was run out of bounds along the Buckeyes' sideline with 1:59 to play, Hayes grabbed him around the collar and threw a punch. Hayes was restrained and Bauman was pulled away.

Ohio State President Harold Enarson and athletic director Hugh Hindman met late into the night and decided the 65-year-old coach had to be fired for such an egregious act. The next morning, Hindman met Hayes in Hayes' hotel room and told the coach he could either resign or be fired.

As the team's flight neared the Columbus airport later that day, Hayes told his team on the airplane's public-address system he would not be back the next season.

Former Michigan standout Jim Brandstatter, who played from 1969-71, says it's a shame that some focus only on the ending of Hayes' career.

''That was not his defining moment,'' Brandstatter says. ''He meant so much more to college football. And the fact that he is still the face of Ohio State football and that his shadow still looms large down there says a lot.''

Bruce, who succeeded Hayes in 1979, says Hayes would not have lost his job if he didn't lose his final three games to Michigan.

''You can't lose three in a row to Michigan and keep your job at Ohio State, unless you're John Cooper,'' Bruce says, referring to the coach Ohio State fired after the 2000 season with a 2-10-1 record against Michigan. ''In my opinion, Woody Hayes would not have been fired even after slugging that kid from Clemson if he did better against Michigan at the end.''

Hayes died in 1987, at the age of 74. One of the warmest tributes was from Schembechler, who said he could never repay all the things Hayes taught him.

Schembechler, 74, has an office on campus in a building named after him - Schembechler Hall - near current Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, one of his former assistants. One of the first images a visitor sees after walking through Schembechler's doorway is a picture of Woody and Bo on the wall.

Just above Schembechler's desk is a photograph of him, Hayes and Doyt Perry, then Bowling Green's coach, in Perry's backyard. Hayes wanted to meet with the coaches, but not in Columbus.

''That was the first time Woody left his house after he got fired,'' Schembechler says. ''I had an agenda. I knew we had to get Woody to apologize for what he did to that Clemson kid. … Woody said, 'Should I apologize for all the good things I've done?'

''Later, he went back to Columbus to make a speech. Cameras were there because it was the first time he was in the public eye. He said, 'Bo thinks I ought to apologize, but Bo doesn't know everything.' That was the extent of his apology!''

Schembechler roars with laughter as he leans back in his seat and grins.

''Woody was the best,'' he says.