Bucknuts Mag Excerpts: The Ten Year War

It was one of the greatest series of games in the history of college football. The legendary Ten Year War period between Woody Hayes-coached OSU teams and Bo Schembechler-coached Michigan teams produced many of the most memorable moments in the storied rivalry. In this week's version of Bucknuts Magazine Excerpts, we go to the October 2005 issue for a look at this rivalry with the author of the new book "The Ten Year War," Joel Pennington.

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Headline: The Ten Year War

Steve Helwagen

It will be remembered as the best stretch in the history of the best rivalry in college sports.

Of course, we are talking about the 10-year period between 1969 and 1978 in the Ohio State-Michigan football rivalry. Those years marked the head-to-head rivalry of coaches Woody Hayes on the OSU side and Bo Schembechler from Michigan.

Joel Pennington is self-publishing a book this fall that focuses on this period. The book is titled The Ten Year War.

"It was voted by ESPN.com in 1999 as the greatest rivalry in all of sports," Pennington said. "The games between Bo and Woody were probably the golden age of this rivalry. Of course, the games today are still of epic proportions. And the rivalry had been going on before those two guys got there.

"But those two guys and those 10 games helped push the rivalry to the forefront of the nation's consciousness. There will probably not be another time like those 10 games, where each year they helped decide the Big Ten championship and, in some years, the national championship. You add all the great teams and all the great players and those were some amazing times."

The cover of Pennington's book depicts one of the great photos in the lore of The Game. The photo, from Brockway Sports Photos, captures Schembechler and Hayes as they met on the field before one of their match-ups at Ohio Stadium.

"Bo had played for Woody at Miami (Ohio) and coached for him at Ohio State," Pennington said. "Those two were great friends. A lot of people did not understand the depth of their relationship. When Bo finally took over there at Michigan, it helped catapult that rivalry to a national level."

Pennington's book will be out later this fall. It contains detailed chapters as well as great action photos from all 10 of these incredible games.

"There have been some books and a video a few years ago," Pennington said. "I thought those 10 games were so special, I thought they needed more attention. I jumped into the deep end and started to write about it. I got great cooperation from both programs. I sat down with Bo Schembechler and some of his assistants. I also got a hold of Earle Bruce and George Chaump from Ohio State. When you hear the stories these guys tell, it really was an interesting time."

Over the course of these 10 years, Schembechler's Michigan teams held the slightest of edges at 5-4-1 against Ohio State. How great were these two programs? Between 1968-80 – a 13-year stretch – Ohio State and Michigan were the only Big Ten teams to represent the Big Ten at the Rose Bowl.

"In those 10 years we talk about in the book, Woody's teams won or shared eight Big Ten titles and Bo's teams won or shared eight Big Ten titles," Pennington said. "They each went to five Rose Bowls."

Pennington delves into the rivalry between the coaches.

"I think Woody knew things were going to change when Bo got the Michigan job," Bruce said in the book. "He knew that this would become a personal rivalry as much as a college football rivalry. The competition would now extend from the field to the recruiting trail. Bo understood the Ohio State program from the inside, and Woody knew he was going to have his hands full from then on."

More important, though, were the legacies each coach left behind.

"Woody and Bo had a lasting effect on these players and these programs that will go on for many years after their gone," Pennington said.

To that end, Pennington has earmarked some proceeds from the sale of his book to charities associated with each coach.

"A portion of the proceeds from this book are going to the Woody and Anne Hayes 1968 National Championship Scholarship Fund at Ohio State as well to the Millie Schembechler Adrenal Cancer Research Fund at Michigan," Pennington said.

Look for The Ten Year War in bookstores across the Midwest this fall. You can also check out Pennington's web site at www.thetenyearwar.com. Information on the book should also be available at www.bucknuts.com.

Here is a look at each of the 10 games featured in Pennington's book (game day rankings for each team are in parentheses):

* 1969, at Ann Arbor: Michigan (12) 24, Ohio State (1) 12 – This game is regarded as one of the most memorable in Big Ten football history. OSU, playing for a second consecutive national title, was stopped cold. Its school-best 22-game winning streak was snapped.

"Ohio State had won the national championship in 1968," Pennington said. "If you talk to players and coaches who were on the 1969 team, they tell you that team was better. That 1969 team may have been the greatest one in Ohio State history. They destroyed people.

"That game probably stands as Ohio State's most bitter loss ever and as one of the great wins in Michigan history. It really put the program back on the map. Bo had those guys geared up for the 1969 game. His primary goal was instilling toughness and his second goal was beating Ohio State."

* 1970, at Columbus: Ohio State (5) 20, Michigan (4) 9 – OSU gained revenge for the loss the year before and ended a perfect 9-0 regular season. The OSU seniors, led by Rex Kern, completed a perfect three-year mark of 16-0 at Ohio Stadium. Each team was unbeaten coming in.

"It's impossible to talk about the 1970 game without talking about 1969," Pennington said. "That loss really motivated those coaches and those players. They had that 1970 game circled on their calendar. Woody had a rug made that had the 1969 score on it. The players had to walk over it every day. Michigan was averaging 250 yards rushing and the Ohio State defense destroyed their running game. Michigan finished with 37 rushing yards."

* 1971, at Ann Arbor: Michigan (3) 10, Ohio State (NR) 7 – OSU had already suffered three losses and Michigan had already clinched the Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl. But they had a barnburner anyway.

"It was probably one of Woody Hayes' best coaching jobs," Pennington said. "They had lost all of those players from the senior class the year before and they were decimated by injury. That was a depleted team. Late in that game, there was an interception. Michigan's Thom Darden went over the OSU receiver's back and intercepted the ball. Woody tore up the sideline markers and just had a fit. People remember that more than the game, which is a shame because they gave it all they had."

* 1972, at Columbus: Ohio State (9) 14, Michigan (3) 11 – The Buckeyes again prevailed at home as a freshman named Archie Griffin had 75 yards rushing and a touchdown.

"The story of that game was the goal line defense by Ohio State," Pennington said. "Michigan dominated the stats, but when they got down close that Ohio State defense was tenacious. Twice, Michigan had fourth-and-goal from the 1 and could not put it in."

* 1973, at Ann Arbor: Michigan (4) 10, Ohio State (1) 10 – The result of this game – and the vote by Big Ten athletic directors the next day – still has people talking 32 years later. Each team was unbeaten coming in – and going out.

"When you talk to Bo Schembechler about that game, it still makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up," Pennington said. "He is still livid about that situation to this day. That was two great teams. Ohio State was up 10-0 at halftime. Woody kind of put the wraps on the Ohio State offense after that. Michigan scored 10 points to tie the game. Michigan had two chances to break the tie with long field goals, but missed.

"Everybody assumed that since Ohio State had gone the year before and Michigan had dominated the stats in the game, that Michigan would get the vote to go to the Rose Bowl. But the Big Ten athletic directors voted to send Ohio State. Bo was livid about that. He really blasted Wayne Duke, the Big Ten commissioner. Wayne Duke, to this day, says he had nothing to do with it. He says he just took the vote. Bo said he manipulated the vote.

"That game was instrumental in abolishing the `only Rose Bowl' rule. After the 1975 season, other Big Ten teams were allowed to go to bowl games."

* 1974, at Columbus: Ohio State (4) 12, Michigan (3) 10 – This was another incredible game that again came down to the wire.

"That was probably one of the most physical games of that era," Pennington said. "Tom Klaban, a Czechoslovakian refugee, kicked four field goals. Michigan did have one final drive and Mike Lantry had a chance to win it again. It was ruled wide left. If you look at the tape, it could have gone either way."

* 1975, at Ann Arbor: Ohio State (1) 21, Michigan (4) 14 – Once again, the Buckeyes denied the Wolverines the Rose with a great late comeback.

"Michigan had been sitting at home for three years, so they wanted that one," Pennington said. "Cornelius Greene led Ohio State on a long touchdown drive late to tie it. That put the pressure on Michigan. They had to win a game because a tie would send OSU to the Rose Bowl. Rick Leach threw a pass over the middle. Ray Griffin intercepted it and took it back to the 3. Pete Johnson scored from there. That was pretty much it. Michigan went four straight years without beating Ohio State. There was absolute agony in the Michigan program at that point."

* 1976, at Columbus: Michigan (4) 22, Ohio State (8) 0 – OSU's magic against Michigan ran out as Rob Lytle rushed for 165 yards and a touchdown and the Wolverines cruised to an easy win at the Horseshoe.

"Michigan almost had to win that game after not winning since 1971," Pennington said. "Ohio State was in a rebuilding mode after losing all those great players like Archie Griffin and Corny Greene."

* 1977, at Ann Arbor: Michigan (5) 14, Ohio State (4) 6 – OSU needed a win or a tie to get back to the Rose Bowl, but could not make it happen in another classic.

"The 1977 game was like 1972 in reverse," Pennington said. "Ohio State really dominated that game. They moved the ball up and down the field. Rod Gerald was the quarterback then. They had an option offense with Ron Springs and Jeff Logan. They were driving to tie the game and Rod Gerald fumbled.

"There was a TV guy from ABC on the sidelines and he got too close to Woody. Woody took a couple swings at him and that got captured on national television."

* 1978, at Columbus: Michigan (6) 14, Ohio State (16) 3 – This was the final match-up between Schembechler and Hayes, who was fired after the Gator Bowl for punching a Clemson player. In his first 25 years as the OSU coach, Hayes had never lost to Michigan two years in a row. But this marked a third straight loss to the Maize and Blue.

"Ohio State was rebuilding again in 1978 and had a young team," Pennington said. "Michigan was loaded with seniors. Rick Leach was a senior at quarterback. Ohio State wasn't built in those days to make a comeback."


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