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Craig Thomas | | October 2, 2014

Pillars of the Program: Ohio State

Pillars of the Program: Ohio State football

The top three pillars of the program are in the video above -- now check out who just missed the cut ...

They’ve been playing football in Columbus, Ohio for a long time – 125 years to be exact. George Cole and Alexander S. Lilley introduced the game to the university in 1890. After a short time as an independent and then a charter member of the Ohio Athletic Conference, the Buckeyes joined the Big Ten Conference in 1912.

Football legend Paul Brown coached the Buckeyes to the program’s first national title in 1942. But it wasn’t until a former Navy officer took the helm that the Buckeyes became a dynasty. Woody Hayes, who accepted his first coaching position while at sea in the Navy, would eventually lead Ohio State to five national titles.

Columbus is an interesting place; it is a big city with a small town passion for college sports – most notably Ohio State football. When the 104,944 fans clad in scarlet and gray, many who look like this guy, gather at the shrine know as Ohio Stadium, they are entertained by The Best Damn Band In The Land. (Their words not mine.)

The Ohio State numbers are just as impressive. Seven national titles, seven Heisman Trophy winners and 36 conference titles.

Archie Griffith
Running Back | 1972-75
♦ Heisman Trophy Winner (1974, 1975)
♦ Walter Camp Player of the Year (1974, 1975)
Chris Spielman
Linebacker | 1985-87
♦ Lombardi Award Winner (1987)
♦ All-Big Ten (1985, 1986,1987)
Orlando Pace
Offensive Tackle | 1993-96
♦ Outland Trophy (1996)
♦ Lombardi Award (1995, 1996)
Howard Cassady
Halfback | 1952-55
♦ Heisman Trophy Winner (1955)
♦ Maxwell Award (1955)
Mike Doss
Safety | 2000-2002
♦ Big Ten Defensive POY (2002)
♦ BCS National Title Game MVP (2003)
Eddie George
Running Back | 1992-95
♦ Heisman Trophy Winnner (1995)
♦ Doak Walker Award (1995)
Rex Kern
Quarterback | 1968-70
♦ Rose Bowl MVP (1969)
♦ All-American (1969)
Jack Tatum
Safety | 1968-70
♦ Defensive Player of the Year (1970)
♦ All-Big Ten (1968,1969,1970)

Howard "Hopalong" Cassady
One of Ohio State's Heisman winners was Howard Cassady. He was christened ‘Hopalong’ by Columbus sports writers after his first game in Buckeye uniform. The newspapers said he “hopped all over the field like the performing cowboy." Hopalong Cassady was popular cowboy television show in the 1950s.

Cassady was a two-way player for the Bucks, but it is up for debate which side of the ball he was better on.  His college career consisted of 36 games, during those contests he scored 37 touchdowns. He also played defensive back and a pass was never completed on him during his Ohio State career. The moment Cassady stepped on the field in 1953, he was something special for the Buckeyes. Cassady, a 150-pound freshman, came off the bench in his first game and scored three touchdowns to lead Ohio State to 33-13 against Indiana. He never came off the bench again and helped guide the Buckeyes to a record of 29-8 during his four years in Columbus.  

In 1954 and '55 he was named a consensus All-American. In 1954 the Buckeyes completed a perfect season and Cassady finished third overall in the Heisman voting. The 10-0 Buckeyes also won the consensus national championship that year.  In 1955, racked up the awards, winning the Heisman, the Maxwell Award and the AP Athlete of the Year. He made big news that year.

Cassady impact on Ohio State football was felt long after he left the Buckeyes in 1955. His career rushing mark of 2,466 yards stood until it was passed by Jim Otis in 1969. His career all-purpose yards record of 4,403 yards was surpassed by Archie Griffin in 1974, and his scoring record of 222 points was eclipsed by Pete Johnson in 1975.

Mike Doss
Mike Doss owns two Ohio State High School Association Championship rings, one BCS National Championship ring and one Super Bowl ring. But it was at Ohio State where he first broke into the consciousness of football fans on a national level.

Doss was arguably the hardest hitter to patrol the Ohio State backfield since the days of Jack Tatum. He was the heart and soul of the Buckeye defense and a three time All-American at strong safety. He started 40 out of 50 career games while racking up 331 career tackles, eight interceptions, eight fumbles recovered, and six quarterback sacks during his time in the scarlet and gray.

He could flat out hit – earning the reputation as the best hitting strong safety in the history of Ohio State. The man from Canton, Ohio is the only non-linebacker in Ohio State’s top 20 career tackles.

Doss had the uncanny ability to make the big play when the team needed it most. His two interceptions against Michigan in 2001 helped the Buckeyes win in the Big House for the first time in 14 years.  His interception in the BCS Championship game against Miami in 2003 helped the Buckeyes even the score. Ohio State would eventually win the game in two overtimes. 

Eddie George
Eddie George was a heavily recruited blue chip prospect out of the Fork Union Military Academy (Va.), however most coaches envisioned George as a linebacker. George wanted the ball in his hands. Only one school would give him that opportunity – Ohio State.

That turned out to be a mutually beneficial decision for both parties as George eventually developed into one of Ohio State's greatest running backs.  

George played sparring his first two seasons at Ohio State, he didn’t earn the full time spot until this junior year. That season he rushed for 1,442 yards.

He rushed for 100 yard or more 20 times during his Buckeye career, including his last 12 games. His career-total of 3,688 yards is the second-most in Ohio State history; only the legend Archie Griffin rushed the ball for more yards in a career.

At the end of his Ohio State playing days, Eddie George collected enough hardware to fill his trophy shelf. Along with the Heisman Trophy, he won the Doak Walker Award, the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and was named the Big Ten Most Valuable Player.

The number 27 George wore for the Buckeyes was retired in 2001.

Rex Kern
Rex Kern played quarterback for the Buckeyes from 1968 to 1970, leading what was arguably Woody Hayes’ greatest teams. Kern was the leader of the ‘Super Sophomores.” He guided the Bucks to an undefeated season in 1968 and a consensus national championship.

Kern and the others in the Class of 1970 finished their Ohio State careers with 27-2 record, including a win in the 1969 Rose Bowl against the O.J. Simpson-led USC Trojans. The win in the Rose Bowl was especially sweet, not only did Kern earn the Most Outstanding Player of the game; he also met his future wife, Nancy at the game. She was one of the games Rose Princesses.

Kern was the first All-American quarterback to play for Hayes. He helped the Buckeyes win two Big Ten titles and played in two Rose Bowls.

In 2001, Kern helped establish the Anne and Woody Hayes Endowment for abused children at Columbus Children's Hospital.

Jack Tatum
When you earn the nickname ‘The Assassin’ it’s safe to assume your style of play is rather physical. But Jack Tatum almost didn’t play defensive back.

Woody Hayes recruited Tatum to play running back in 1968. It was his assistant, Lou Holtz, yes – that Lou Holtz, who convinced the coach to let Tatum run wild in the defensive backfield. 

During Tatum’s freshman year, he was  ‘the shadow’ in the defensive backfield, meaning he was to cover the opposing team’s best wide receiver one-on-one.  Tatum was not limited to just the defensive backfield, because of the ferociousness of his tackling style, No. 32 occasionally played linebacker.

He was a mainstay of the defense for the next three seasons as Ohio State compiled a 27-2 record and won the 1968 national championship, two Big Ten titles and played in two Rose Bowls.

Tatum received many personal accolades during his college playing days, including the National Defensive Player of the Year, twice being named a unanimous All-American and earning first-team All-Big Ten three times.

In 2001, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel instituted the "Jack Tatum Hit of the Week Award", given to the player who had the most impressive defensive hit of the game.

Tatum was a two-time national champion and All-American for Ohio State. The B1G's best defensive back is given an award named in Tatum's honor.

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