Everyone knows about Woody Hayes’ career as the head coach of the Buckeyes: his 205-61-10 record (the most wins ever by an OSU coach), the 13 Big Ten championships, eight Rose Bowl visits, five national championships, and three Heisman trophies his players won, not to mention the two times he was selected National Coach of the Year.
But Woody had a very diverse and different life off the field. The following list of five fun facts about Coach Hayes will highlight some of the more interesting aspects of his life you probably don’t know about!
- Hayes graduated from Denison University in 1935 as a double major in history and English and a minor in physical education. He graduated from OSU in 1948 with a master’s degree in educational administration. This was three years before he would be hired as football coach.
- Hayes was good friends with Presidents Nixon and Ford and also knew Presidents Reagan and Bush. He was very involved in the Ohio Republican party and supported current governor John Kasich early in his political career.
- Hayes had a wide variety of other notable friends, including Jack Nicklaus, Bob Evans, Milton Caniff, Dave Thomas, Bob Hope, and George Steinbrenner.
- Hayes was a great admirer of Ralph Waldo Emerson and was invited to give a lecture at Harvard in 1982 on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Emerson’s death. His signature “Pay Forward” motto was inspired by Emerson’s essay on Compensation.
- Hayes was a dedicated supporter of many charitable organizations, particularly those, like the Easter Seals, that benefitted children. He spent quite a bit of time visiting hospital patients, answering phones at telethons, and speaking at events to raise funds for various causes.
For more information about these and other surprising facts about Coach Hayes, click through to our web exhibit about Hayes or visit our exhibit in Thompson Library between Jan. 7 and Feb. 28.