The next time you’re in Columbus, go to The Varsity, the epicenter of Ohio State idolatry. Belly up to the bar and make this simple wager: “Name the team that Woody Hayes played at least twice and never beat.”
First the Buckeye faithful will be shocked to learn their hero had a losing record to anyone during his storied 238-72-10 career, which ran from 1946 to 1978. Second, their jaws will hit the floor when you inform them it was Xavier.
Woody got his job at Ohio State by having two outstanding years at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, from 1949 to 1950, after beginning his college coaching career at Denison University. But during those two great years at Miami, he could never figure out how to beat the Muskies.
In 1949, Xavier beat the Redskins 27-19, and then blanked Woody, 7-0, in 1950, handing him his only loss in a fantastic season that culminated in win over Arizona State in the Salad (today’s Fiesta) Bowl.
You might be able to win a similar bet in Ann Arbor, Mich. The other Big Ten coaching deity, Michigan’s Bo Schembechler, also had trouble with Xavier. Not only was he a tackle on Woody’s Miami teams of 1949 and 1950, as the head coach of Miami from 1963 to 1968, he was 2-3-1 against the Musketeers, despite having great teams.
Woody and Bo went on to have a legendary rivalry at OSU and Michigan from 1969 to 1978, where Bo held the upper hand at 5-4-1. They had lots of things in common, but maybe the least know is how they were toughened by the crucible of Xavier football.
Here’s some other interesting facts about Xavier football you may not know:
• When Xavier opened the 15,000-seat Corcoran Field in 1929, it was the third-largest stadium in Ohio behind Ohio State University’s Ohio Stadium and the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.
• Some of the more famous opponents went helmet-to-helmet with include:
George Blanda, University of Kentucky 1946-1948, Pro Football Hall of Famer with the Oakland Raiders
Babe Parilli, University of Kentucky 1949-1951, No. 3 in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1951
John Unitas, University of Louisville 1951-1954, Pro Football Hall of Famer with the Baltimore Colts
Greg Cook, University of Cincinnati 1966-1968, AFC Rookie of the Year with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1969
Ron Jaworski, Youngstown State University 1970-1972, led the Philadelphia Eagles to the 1981 Super Bowl, now ESPN analyst