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Quarterback of 1968 National Championship squad inducted Saturday in South Bend, Ind.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Rex Kern, Ohio State quarterback from 1968-1970, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame Saturday in South Bend, Ind. With Kern as signal-caller, the Buckeyes won the 1968 National Championship, a pair of Big Ten titles and two Rose Bowls.

Kern, an All-American in 1969, was named the Most Valuable Player of Ohio State’s 27-16 victory over USC in the 1969 Rose Bowl. His effort helped the Buckeyes clinch the ’68 national championship.

Kern was honored for his induction by Ohio State at halftime of the 2007 Michigan State homecoming game Oct. 20 in Ohio Stadium. An audio slideshow of the ceremony is available at the link above. Also check out the recent USA Today story on Kern below.

 

Rex Kern, 2008 College Football Hall of Fame inductee.

For a lifelong Ohio State Buckeye such as Rex Kern, old habits die hard

By Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY 

For one thing, the former quarterback keeps his clocks on Woody Time, 10 minutes fast. Also, the Buckeyes’ archrival in Ann Arbor, Mich., is still just “the school up north.”

“You couldn’t swear,” Kern says of his avoidance of the “M” word. “Woody wouldn’t let you. He’d make you wash your mouth out.”

Woody, of course, is Woody Hayes, the late, legendary Ohio State coach known for his no-nonsense style and fiery temperament. Kern, who quarterbacked the Buckeyes for three seasons, helped lead Hayes’ 1968 squad to an undefeated season, Rose Bowl victory and national title. This weekend, Kern will join 15 other players and four coaches in this year’s class of inductees at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.

Kern, 59, has plenty of stories about his alma mater. Not surprisingly, many involve Hayes, Kern’s coach, mentor and, ultimately, friend. He recalls how Hayes overheard some of his new neighbors speculating on how the new Buckeyes coach would fare.

“They were saying, ‘Ah, he’ll probably get run out of town like the rest of them,’ ” Kern says. “Woody decided right then that he’d work as hard as he could. He’d start his meetings 10 minutes early so he could work that much longer than the next guy.”

His quarterbacks in particular soon learned being on time meant being early.

“We synchronized our watches with him,” Kern says. “Even to this day, I set all my clocks ahead. It drives my wife crazy. She’ll go, ‘What time is it? The real time, not Woody Time.’ “

Most fans are familiar with that image of Hayes as a strict disciplinarian. Kern says that picture is accurate but incomplete.

“Woody believed in education first,” Kern says. “He preached that more than any X’s and O’s. Those were his three criteria. He told you if you came to the Ohio State University, you’d have an opportunity to get an education, play the best football in the country, and you’ll make lifetime friends with your teammates.”

As a quarterback for Hayes, Kern wasn’t asked to throw much. His career totals of 2,444 yards and 19 touchdowns are modest compared with some fellow enshrinees.

“I said to Doug Flutie, ‘How did you pass for over 10,000 yards?’ The only time I ever saw the number 10,000 was on my odometer,” Kern quips.

Hayes had a well-known refrain that, of the three things that could happen on a pass, two were bad.

“He added a fourth later when Archie Griffin got there,” Kern recalls of the running back who won the Heisman Trophy in 1974 and ’75. “The other bad thing that could happen was that Archie didn’t get to touch the ball. But I do think the fact that we were able to mix in a few more things changed the direction of our teams and made us successful.”

Kern was 27-2 as a starter, including the 1968 campaign that ended with a win in the Rose Bowl. That’s where he also met his future wife, Nancy.

Recurring back problems limited his NFL career as a defensive back to four years, but he returned to OSU to earn a doctorate in health, physical education and recreation. In 2001, he established the Anne and Woody Hayes Endowment for the prevention of child abuse at Columbus Children’s Hospital. He speaks often with current Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel.

“Jim has all of Woody’s great characteristics, and he didn’t maintain some of the negative ones,” Kern says. “They’ve won the national championship and played for it twice. How many schools can say that?”

Hall of Fame Class of 2008

The members of the College Football Hall of Fame 2008 enshrinement class, which will be honored Saturday and Sunday at ceremonies in South Bend, Ind.