1978 OSU/Clemson bowl game was Woody Hayes's 'Waterloo'

It's no secret that I am not a fan of The Ohio State University football team. My loyalties lie elsewhere, despite the fact that I was born, raised and lived in Ohio all my life, except for four years in college in South Bend, Indiana.

I am a University of Notre Dame fan first, an Alabama fan second and a Florida State University fan third.

But I will never forget that December day back in 1978 when my casual dislike for Ohio State -- and my particular dislike for the way their coach Woody Hayes coached his team -- took a turn for the worse.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Tonight's Orange Bowl in Miami features the Big Ten's Ohio State against Clemson of the ACC. The Buckeyes, who are 12-1, are coming off a loss in the conference title game to Michigan State while Clemson is 10-2.

If you remember, the two teams last met in the 1978 Gator Bowl, a game that became memorable as the last game Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes would ever coach.

There were two minutes and 30 seconds left in the game when Clemson nose guard Charlie Bauman intercepted an Ohio State pass, sealing the Clemson Tigers' 17-15 win over the Buckeyes.

It was only a matter of seconds later that Hayes punched Bauman in the throat as Bauman went by the Ohio State sideline.

That triggered a huge brawl on the field as well.

This wasn't the first time that Hayes's temper would get him into trouble but it was the last.

Ohio State officials fired him the very next morning.

The way the Washington Post put it three days ago -- "The game marks the first meeting of the two teams since 1978...and the no-turning-back moment...when the 28-year, 205-win tenure of the hot-tempered yet beloved Buckeyes coach ended with one roundhouse right to the throat."

Wapo took the words right out of my mouth.

I was watching the game on TV with two Ohio State fans and the wife of one who couldn't care less about football. I remember jumping up off the couch and screaming at the TV, scaring the one fan's wife almost to death. I went on a two-minute rant against Hayes and it was only our plans for the four of us to go out to dinner that cut my tantrum short.

Now, I have an Irish temper and I do understand that football coaches can get emotional and so totally over-the-top during a game. I tend to be very emotional during football games myself.

But for Hayes to not only strike an opposing player but to strike him in his unprotected throat was indefensible.

His other major transgressions? Back in 1959, following a 17-0 loss to USC, Hayes threw a punch at Los Angeles Examiner sportswriter Al Bine, but missed and punched the brother of Pasadena Independent sports editor Bob Shafer in the back.

In a May 1965 meeting of Big Ten Conference athletic directors and coaches, Hayes nearly started a fight with Iowa's athletic director, Forest Evashevski, before being restrained. Prior to the 1973 Rose Bowl, Hayes shoved a camera into the face of a news photographer; Hayes was suspended for three games and fined $2,000.

In 1977, a late fumble at Michigan caused him to charge at ABC cameraman Mike Freedman, who recorded his frustration; Hayes was ejected, put on probation by the Big Ten Conference, and fined $2,000.

To be fair, it's important to note that tonight is the 10th BCS appearance for the Ohio State Buckeyes. That's more than any other school in the nation. It's also important to note that this is the first time Clemson has played a Big 10 team since 1990.

For the most part, Ohio State teams play solid football and have had some stand-out players, like Hayes' recruit Archie Griffin. (For the record, Hayes died in 1987.)

But the 1978 punch will always be the stand-out for me.



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