Adam Rittenberg, the Big Ten football blogger for ESPN.com, has spent the past week listing the four people of each of the programs that more or less defined the team. Here's who he picked for Ohio State:
1. Woody Hayes
The coaching icon will always be the face of Ohio State football. He won five national championships and 13 Big Ten titles in 28 years on the sidelines at Ohio State. The fiery Hayes went 205-61-10 as Buckeyes coach and led the team to four Rose Bowls.
2. Archie Griffin
He remains college football's only two-time Heisman Trophy winner and one of the game's all-time greats. The College Football Hall of Famer had 5,589 career rushing yards and 26 touchdowns at Ohio State. In his four years the Buckeyes went 40-5-1.
3. Chris Spielman
There's certainly some debate about Ohio State's greatest defensive player, but Spielman certainly is at or near the top of the list. Plus, there are few figures more revered in the state of Ohio than Spielman, a two-time All-America selection who won the Lombardi Award in 1987. Spielman embodies Ohio State football and holds the school record for solo tackles (283).
4. Chic Harley
Yes, Ohio State football did exist before Hayes arrived, and Harley symbolized the program's dominance during the 1910s. A halfback and a safety, Harley led Ohio State to its first Big Ten championship in 1916 and another title in 1917. Harley earned All-America honors in all three seasons he played and helped Ohio State to a 21-1-1 record, with his lone loss coming in his final game.
There were many others considered for the list, including Jack Tatum, Howard Cassady, Les Horvath, Eddie George, Vic Janowicz, Bobby Hoying, Jim Tressel, David Boston, Jim Parker, Cris Carter and Orlando Pace.
I wholeheartedly agree that Woody, Chic, and Archie should be faces one through three on the Buckeyes Mt. Rushmore, but Spielman's a head-scratcher for me. Yeah, he was a great linebacker (with a Lombardi Award to boot) but he had the misfortune, at least by Buckeye Nation's standards, of playing on some mediocre teams back in the '80s. Unless Adam was deliberately trying to even the selection between the offense and defense, there are about two or three other people I would rather see on Ohio State's Mt. Rushmore.
My first thought was replacing Spielman with Paul Brown, the supreme overlord of football in Ohio. Unfortunately, Brown wasn't the Buckeyes' coach long enough to truly establish a legacy like Francis Schmidt before him and Hayes, after the Wes Fesler debacle.
Others argued that Jim Tressel should be on the fourth face but I'm hesitant, despite really liking his personna and emphasis on developing character as much as talent. I don't always agree with his conservative play-calling or his unbreakable loyalty to mediocre offensive and defensive coordinators.
Then we've got Vic Janowicz, Ohio State's first Heisman winner. Here's a guy who even received praise from Woody in his first year of coaching (remember that this was a time when the players and most of Columbus was ready to banish Woody from Central Ohio): "He was not only a great runner, but also passed, was a placekicker and punter, played safety on defense and was an outstanding blocker. Janowicz epitomized the 'triple-threat' football player."
And then there's the first Heisman winner of the Hayes Era, Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, who, as a running back, averaged at least one touchdown per game in his college career. In addition to his 1955 Heisman Trophy, Cassady was also a Maxwell Award recipient and was the Associated Press Athlete of the Year.
So who is the fourth face on Ohio State's Mt. Rushmore? Personally, I'd go with Cassady who in addition to the hardware and accolades previously mentioned, also helped the Buckeyes win their second national title in 1954, the first of many during the Woody Hayes era.
Also, when in the hell is Ohio State finally going to get a Woody Hayes statue? The athletic center tie-in is nice, but the man and his legacy are long overdue for a bronzed likeness near the rotunda of the Horseshoe.