After a highly scrutinized selection process, Wayne Woodrow “Woody” Hayes begins his 28-year tenure as head coach. A tireless worker, meticulous planner, and a Lt. Commander in the Navy, Hayes led his initial Buckeye team, which struggled to adjust to his T-formation style, to a 4-3-2 finish. Many thought Hayes’ days at Ohio State were numbered. They were wrong.
Ohio State overachieves in most people’s eyes, going 6-3 with several newcomers in the lineup. The Buckeyes also snapped an eight-year drought against Michigan, notching a 27-7 win over the Wolverines. Howard “Hop” Cassady debuts and catches the eye of the collective college football world. Hayes’s popularity, slowly but steadily, begins to increase.
Plagued by the loss of starting quarterback John Borton because of an injury in the third game of the season, Ohio State finishes 6-3. Many people consider the season a success, given that an inexperienced quarterback led the team for the majority of the season. Coach Hayes later notes the 1953 season proved to him a team should place more emphasis on developing its running game, which would eventually become his staple.
Ohio State claims its second national championship with a perfect 10-0 season, beating Southern Cal, 20-7, in a rainy, mud-soaked Rose Bowl game. The rift between west coast writers and Hayes is born when the OSU coach criticizes the Tournament of Roses Association for not covering the field before the game and allowing the bands to perform at halftime.
Ohio State uses a 17-0 blanking of Michigan to claim its second consecutive Big Ten Championship. Hop Cassady becomes Ohio State’s third Heisman Trophy winner. During the season, Hayes voices his displeasure over the fact several other football conferences had started awarding scholarships to student-athletes, but the Big Ten had failed to follow suit. After a series of meetings and heated debates, the conference adopts a complicated grant-in-aid program based on financial need, marking the first form of athletic scholarships available at Ohio State.
Ohio State sets a new Big Ten record with 17-consecutive victories, breaking Michigan’s previous mark of 15. Offensive guard Jim Parker became the first OSU player to win the Outland Trophy.
After dropping their season opener, the Buckeyes win nine-consecutive games to capture the school’s third national championship – the second under Hayes. OSU knocked off Oregon 10-7 in the Rose Bowl for its third consecutive win in Pasadena.
Bo Schembechler joins Hayes staff as an assistant coach. Defensive tackle Jim Marshall score both OSU touchdowns in a 14-all tie with Purdue, returning a blocked punt and interception for scores.
A rash of injuries are blamed for what would be the worst season in terms of won-loss record in the Hayes era. In the season opener against Southern California, a total of 17 players were injured in what veteran trainer Ernie Biggs called, “the worst physical beating since I have been at Ohio State.” The team finishes 3-5-1.
The NCAA Football Rules Committee liberalizes the substitution rule, putting an end to two-way football players. Hayes applauds the rule changes and begins to recruit players to form offensive and defensive units. Following an uninspired 7-0 win over Michigan to end the season, Hayes holds an impromptu practice at dusk with Paul Warfield and Matt Snell south of the stadium, citing concerns about the 1961 season.
Ohio State finishes 8-0-1, defeats Michigan, 50-20, wins the Big Ten and is named national champions by the Football Writers. A bitter dispute among the school’s faculty council erupted when a Rose Bowl invitation arrived. By a narrow margin, the council voted not to accept the invitation and skip the bowl game. A livid Hayes claimed for years the decision hampered his recruiting efforts.
Dick Van Raaphorst boots a 26-yard field goal with only eight second left to give OSU a 10-7 win over Indiana. It marked one of the few highlights of a season where Ohio State finished just 6-3 and tied for third place in the Big Ten.
Ohio State defeated Michigan in Ann Arbor, 14-10, marking the fourth-consecutive Buckeye win over the Wolverines. The game was delayed a week as the nation mourned the death of President John F. Kennedy. The attendance of 36,424 was the smallest at Michigan Stadium in 20 years.
After winning six games to begin the season, Ohio State dropped two of its last three to finish 7-2 and tie for second place in the Big Ten. A stingy defense, led by Ike Kelley and Arnie Chonko, surrendered just 76 points the entire season and held opponents to 10 or less points in seven of nine games.