Woody Hayes of Ohio State, John McKay of the USC Trojans, Darrell Royal of the Texas Longhorns, Frank Broyles of Arkansas, and Pat Dye of Auburn are five coaches so successful that their names are synonymous with their schools. All but Dye won a national championship, and his Tigers finished No. 3 in 1983.
They are legends—but legends fall hard. These five giants were separated from their schools under less than ideal circumstances and replaced by men who significantly improved the schools' records the following season.
Was it time for them to go? Let's examine their records and those of their successors.
NAME LAST YR RECORD REPLACED BY NEXT YEAR RECORD
Woody Hayes 1978, 7-4-1 Earle Bruce 1979, 11-1
John McKay 1975, 8-4 John Robinson 1976, 11-1
Darrell Royal 1976, 5-5-1 Fred Akers 1977, 11-1
Frank Broyles 1976, 5-5-1 Lou Holtz 1977, 11-1
Pat Dye 1992, 5-5-1 Terry Bowden 1993, 11-0
John McKay left under the oddest circumstances. His Trojans were 7-0 and then lost their last four games of the regular season after rumors of his impending departure for the NFL became known. His Trojans did gather themselves to win the Liberty Bowl for "the old man" in his final game. John Robinson stepped in and took the Trojans to the Rose Bowl and beat Michigan the following season.
Frank Broyles had become Athletic Director in 1974 and "gave himself his resignation as coach" in 1976, going on to a 33-year career in that position. Lou Holtz came in and improved the win total by six the following season.
Similarly, Royal and Dye saw the glow leave their golden eras and were replaced by men who more than doubled their final season win totals the following year.
The gloomy aspects surrounding Woody Hayes' demise in the 1978 Gator Bowl loss to Clemson are well documented. Less well known is that fact that Earle Bruce came in and immediately took the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season before losing to John Robinson's Trojans in the Rose Bowl by a single point.
A curious situation—but maybe one the fans knew had to happen all along.