OSU Football: Who was the youngest coach?

New Buckeyes Football Head Coach Luke Fickell, who turns 38 on Aug. 18, starts his tenure at a significantly younger age than his more recent predecessors, which started us wondering, who were the youngest Buckeye football coaches? Here are the top three, although there’s a tie for third:

#1: The youngest OSU Head Coach appears to have been Jack Ryder, who we believe was 21 years old when he began coaching. Born in 1871, he came to OSU in 1892 and coached until 1895, returning in 1898. He is also notable as OSU’s first paid head coach. He made $10 per week, which he was allegedly quite pleased with, bringing him to a total of $150 for the season. After his coaching career ended he became a sports editor for The Cincinnati Enquirer, a post that he held for more than 30 years until his death in 1936.

Jack Ryder, football coach, 1893

Jack Ryder, football coach, 1893

1893 football team

1893 Football Team (Ryder is in the center of the third row)

#2: The next-youngest coach was David Edwards (1875-1948) who coached the 1897 season at the ripe old age of 22. Edwards was a half back at Princeton, and the next fall came to OSU to coach. It seems he was a better player than a coach, because the Buckeyes had an epically bad season, and Edwards was let go.

David F. Edwards, 1897

David F. Edwards, 1897

#3: The last is a tie for age 23: Both Alexander S. Lilley, the Buckeyes’ first coach, and Perry Hale, the sixth OSU coach, were 23 years old when they started coaching here.

We previously posted on Lilley, but just as a reminder: He was unpaid, which was probably a good thing. It can be debated as to whether it was the newness of the game, the inexperience of the players, or Lilley’s coaching ability that resulted in so many losses in the beginning of the Buckeyes football history. Lilley, however, did help start the madness here on campus, riding an indian pony to practices from his home on Main Street. A plaque honoring him hangs over the team’s dressing room door at the Stadium.

Alexander Lilley, 1890

Alexander Lilley, 1890

Alexander Lilley plaque, 1930s

Alexander Lilley plaque, 1930s

Lilley Alexander plaque above Stadium locker room, 1980

Lilley Alexander plaque above Stadium locker room, 1980

Perry Hale was a graduate of Yale, where he was All-American Fullback in 1900. He coached for two years at Phillips Exeter Academy prior to coming to OSU in 1902. From several accounts, Hale was well-regarded by the team and the community, and as a plus, the Buckeyes won the first four games of the season. He left OSU in 1903 and opened his own civil engineering office.

Perry Hale, 1903

Perry Hale, 1903

1903 Football Team

1903 Football Team, (Perry Hale is in the third row to the far left)

filed by C.N.

Posted in Football, Football Coaches |

Comments are closed.