Buckeye Legends Chat: Brian Baschnagel

Here are excerpts from Tuesday's Chat session with former Ohio State wingback and captain Brian Baschnagel. Baschnagel was a four-year starter and a member of four straight teams that won at least a share of the Big Ten title and played in the Rose Bowl. He was a captain at OSU in 1975 before enjoying a 10-year career in the NFL with the Chicago Bears. Click this free link for more.

On Tuesday, Bucknuts.com welcomed in former Ohio State captain Brian Baschnagel for a special Chat session.

Baschnagel is a member of Buckeye Legends, a collection of former OSU athletes (see link below). Stay tuned for future Chat events with members of Buckeye Legends.

Here is a transcript of the Chat with Brian Baschnagel:

scribeohio (Aug 8, 2006 9:53:10 AM)
Hey, Brian. Followed your career at OSU/Bears - congrats and proud you're a Buckeye. How'd Woody recruit you from PA?

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 9:54:12 AM)
Pittsburgh is not that far from Ohio State. I was recruited by a number of different schools. Woody went into PA a lot to get guys. He came in to get me which was fortunate. He impressed me as someone interested in character and not necessarily for football abilities. I was impressed with that and went to Ohio State ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 9:54:44 AM)
They ran the ball and I was a RB. I was recruited by Notre Dame and Penn State. Joe Paterno is still at Penn State. But when it came down to it, Woody won me over.

redondo (Aug 8, 2006 9:54:50 AM)
Hi Brian - What's the coolest thing about being a Rhodes Scholar?

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 9:55:53 AM)
I competed for a Rhodes scholarship. I was interested in it. I was encouraged by Woody Hayes to go after it. Woody was very serious about academics. When I was recruited, Woody talked about the business school and cited examples of players who had gone through it. ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 9:56:48 AM)
I talked to Woody about the law school and he cited examples of successful guys on and off the team who were successful. He insisted that everybody do their best. Going into my senior year, Woody thought I should go after the Rhodes scholarship ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 9:57:46 AM)
But I did not want to forego an opportunity to play pro ball. Woody was pretty upset about that. I got drafted in April 1976. I graduated on time in June 1976. Woody called me into his office after the draft and he asked me to sit down and he asked me "What are you going to do?" ....

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 9:58:54 AM)
I said, "What do you mean, what am I going to do? What am I going to do after graduation? I don't know if you know I got drafted by the Bears." Before I could finish the statement, he took a book off the shelf it slammed it down and said "There goes your law degree."

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:00:06 AM)
I failed in my attempt to be a Rhodes scholar. They took 2 other people from Ohio. The interesting thing about that comment was Woody never had mentioned getting a law degree since he was recruiting me. He blindsided me with that. Woody and I had a strong discussion. I didn't know why he thought I should deny myself a chance to play pro ball ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:00:54 AM)
He got angry at that and turned red. I said I could do both. He said, "Brian, I know you too well. You're going to go up there make that team, play 10 years and never get your law degree." Sure enough, I played 10 years and never became a lawyer ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:01:12 AM)
That's just the way Woody was. He wanted everybody to get the most out of what they could.

SteveHelwagen (Aug 8, 2006 10:01:27 AM)
TheMinnesotaBuckeye (who couldn't be here) asks... Brian, what are your thoughts on the controversial ending to the Michigan State game in 1974?

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:04:18 AM)
It was devastating that we lost that game and the way we lost it (16-13). MSU had a good football team and for some reason when we played up there they played us hard. MSU always seems to rise to the talent they're playing. When we played at East Lansing, they played us physically. We knew we were in a dog fight. We were ahead late in the game. Their RB run 80 yards for a TD ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:05:49 AM)
We marched down and didn't have much time. Got to the 1 or the 2 and got tackled on a play. The MSU players laid on top of our guys and didn't let us get set to run a play. Clock was running down, ball was snapped. Ball squirted through Corny Greene's hands. I ran in and picked it up for a touchdown. It's controversial because if we had gotten it off on time and if we were set properly, we should have won. But that's the controversy. MSU did the right thing by laying on us ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:06:21 AM)
I think it's questionable if we got it off on time and if we did, I don't think we were set. It was a devastating loss because it cost us the national championship that year.

JimC (Aug 8, 2006 10:06:23 AM)
Hi Brian, Do you ever get back to the shoe? Are you going to roadtrip to Texas?

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:07:55 AM)
Thinking about going down to Texas. I opted out of that. My son enrolls at OSU a week or so later. I would travel to Texas, but he is so close to school. I will be down for the home opener Sept. 2. I will probably make a game later in the year. I try to go to the Michigan game every year. I've made 5 of the last 6. I enjoy coming back to the Shoe it is quite different now, but the Shoe is the shoe and it brings back great memories.

scribeohio (Aug 8, 2006 10:08:00 AM)
Brian, what similiarities do you see between Corny and Troy?

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:09:55 AM)
Similarities I see with the 2 athletes, I knew Corny intimately as an athlete. They are both just tremendous athletes. The fact that Ohio State is throwing the ball so much more than when Corny played, Troy seems to have a better passing game that Corny. Corny could throw the ball, but our offensive philosophy was so different. We practiced the passing game more than what we used in the game. We were a running team. That was our bread and butter. Both are great athletes. Corny is a terrific person as well and I'm sure Troy is as well.

redondo (Aug 8, 2006 10:10:02 AM)
Hi Brian - What's your favorite memory as a Buckeye player and your favorite game? Thank you.

kbbuckfan (Aug 8, 2006 10:10:39 AM)
If you could tell us your favorite/ most memorable moment from OSU , what would it be?

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:10:58 AM)
I think my fondest memory. There were 2 games, one was the Michigan game my senior year 1975, down 14-7 and we scored 2 quick TDs to win the game. As seniors it was our last RS game. That was memorable by the way we came back and won ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:12:54 AM)
The other game memorable to me was the 1974 Rose Bowl, where we beat USC 42-21. I can remember thinking we were playing for OSU and the Big Ten. That year, the Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke and the ADs changed the rules on the Rose Bowl to allow us to repeat. Up to 1973, the Rose Bowl rep from the Big Ten could not repeat. We went into that season thinking we weren't eligible. They changed the rules and allowed us to play. Then, they voted us over Michigan, who we tied 10-10. I felt like we were playing for ourselves but also for all of the Big Ten. That was very gratifying to beat a team that had destroyed us the year before in the Rose Bowl.

redondo (Aug 8, 2006 10:13:04 AM)
Hi Brian - Are there any good Woody stories or anything about the man that perhaps we haven't heard or that has special meaning for you that you could share with us? Thank you.

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:16:10 AM)
What stood out in my mind was Woody was quite emotional and volatile. When he didn't like something, everybody knew it. You had to pick your moments to have a discussion with Coach Hayes. He was very emotional on the field. That drove us all because we wanted to satisfy Coach Hayes so he'd be happy. He wasn't a grouch the whole time. Woody was extremely fair. He let you know when he didn't like what he saw, but he also let you know when he liked it. If he was mad, he say it and drop it. He drove all of us to be the best we could be in the academically, in the community and on the field. If the players allowed them to influence their approach, then every one of them appreciated that. He did so much for me. Was it easy? Absolutely not. You knew it was sincere. He wanted us to be the best we could be for our sake and to represent the university well.

kbbuckfan (Aug 8, 2006 10:16:21 AM)
What is Mike Ditka like?

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:17:24 AM)
Coach Ditka was similar to Coach Hayes -- very emotional, very demanding. He spoke his mind. When he didn't like something, he'd let you know. He wouldn't hold grudges. He'd come up and congratulate you on a job well done. Very demanding, but very fair ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:18:43 AM)
We had a lot of talent with the Bears. I truly believe in Mike Ditka being instrumental in us going to the Super Bowl in 1985 and winning it. He got us together. The team, although I wasn't part of it after that, was talented enough to win after that. But he couldn't get them on the same page to do it.

MacAuley (Aug 8, 2006 10:18:50 AM)
Brian, Thanks for spending some time with us today. Do you have any desire to get into coaching?

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:21:19 AM)
I thought seriously about coaching after I was done in 1986. I wanted more stability for my family. If I was going to coach, I probably would have been driven to be a head coach. That meant moving a lot. I wanted more stability for my family. When I was 15, we moved to Pittsburgh and that was our 16th move since I was born. My parents had to make tremendous sacrifices for us. I had friends growing up, but they weren't lifelong. I wanted my family to have that stability.

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:21:27 AM)
I would have enjoyed coaching ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:21:50 AM)
I enjoy the game of football. I enjoy working with younger people. I coached soccer with my kids and enjoyed that.

scribeohio (Aug 8, 2006 10:21:27 AM)
Brian, catch us up on yourself today. Where do you live, what activities/work, family? Have you been back to OSU recently and relationship with JT? Thanks

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:22:28 AM)
I live in Glenview, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:23:20 AM)
I work for North American Corp., which is a family owned business (not my family). Very successful business. Company been in existence since 1918, which is quite remarkable. I've been working for them for almost 20 years now ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:24:04 AM)
I have three kids, all of which in college this fall. My son will be a freshman at OSU this fall. My wife, Mindy, and I have been married for 23 years. ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:25:26 AM)
The great thing about Coach Tressel is he is seriously interested in keeping the tradition going at Ohio State. He recognizes what it means to be a Buckeye. He welcomes the former players back to campus and to talk to the team. He has contacted me a couple of times to talk to them before a game. Jim is terrific about that. If nothing else, it's nice to be a part of it and see them continue that tradition.

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:26:57 AM)
I like the idea of the players going down to the band and singing the alma mater. I think that is a neat thing to do. I imagine some of the players think it's kind of hokey. As a former player, to not have had a chance to do that, I think that is special and they'll remember it. It's good for the student body to participate in that. That is a wonderful tradition and I hope they continue after Coach Tressel is gone, which won't be soon I'm sure.

kbbuckfan (Aug 8, 2006 10:25:36 AM)
Would you have traded you professional football career for law school? If you could go back and do it different?

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:28:28 AM)
Absolutely not. I have arthritic knees and I feel some of the pain associated with football. It's not serious, but even with that I wouldn't change a thing that I've done. I don't regret not getting the law degree. I have no regrets with the decisions I've made for the most part. In terms of life long decisions, I wouldn't change a thing.

redondo (Aug 8, 2006 10:28:44 AM)
Hi Brian - I think you were on the 72 team that beat Michigan when they pushed the ball all ove the field and couldn't score TD's. I'm not sure Greg Hare completed a pass all day. Woody kept the team in the locker room a long time before kickoff, was that part of the plan or did it just work out that way? What are your recollections of that game? Thank you.

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:30:48 AM)
I was not playing much in that game. Rick Galbos who was a senior and captain was the starting WB. He was hurt and I played, but he came back for that game. I do remember waiting in the locker room until the last minute. I remember wondering what we were doing and why it was taking so long. I remember the goal line stands. In retrospect, Michigan probably thinks they could have kicked FGs when they had the chance. Quite honestly, I think they had a better team than we had that year. Glad they did what they did. That's football. Had we lost, we wouldn't have gone to the Rose Bowl that year ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:32:23 AM)
Woody had some interesting motivational tools. That was probably an example. When I look back and recognize how emotional Woody was over the course of the year, he was more volatile in weeks when we played a lesser opponent. In Michigan week, he was always the calmest. He realized the players would be up for that game and we didn't need outside influences to stimulate us. He did that for games where we might have a letdown. He knew we would be up for Michigan and he kept us under control ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:32:48 AM)
That happens. I can't tell you how many times in 22 years of football we'd leave our best game on practice field on Tuesday and be flat as can be on game day.

MacAuley (Aug 8, 2006 10:33:04 AM)
Brian - Who was the hardest hitter you played against, at Ohio St and for Chicago? How about best tackler?

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:34:58 AM)
I would say the hardest hitter was a teammate. I would get hit hardest by Doug Plank in practice than in games. I got hit by Greg Bingham of Houston probably hardest hit in my career. Day in and day out, hardest hitter was Doug Plank and he was a teammate. Both in Cols. and with the Bears. Doug and I played together 3 years at OSU and 7-8 years at the Bears. There were a lot of hard hitting guys, but to go against him almost every day was no fun.

scribeohio (Aug 8, 2006 10:35:13 AM)
Much has been made over the 73 team right up there with the 68 team etc. How'd you rank your the 4 teams you played on? Thanks

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:36:03 AM)
The best team we had in my 4 years, the most talented was probably 73. The second best was probably 1975, third best was 1974 and 1972 was probably the fourth best if I had to rank them. We had the best opportunities to win the national title in 1973 and then 1975 ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:37:26 AM)
We tied Michigan in 1973, we were the better team, we ended up in a 10-10 tie. In 75, we ran the table and were 11-0. We beat UCLA who we played in the Rose Bowl. We got out there ranked No. 1 and lose to UCLA. They were much improved, but when you beat a team like 42-17 at their place and lose in the Rose Bowl, I don't know why things like that happen. We had an unbelievable team that year ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:39:19 AM)
Our main goal every year was to beat Michigan. Players felt if we could beat Michigan, we'd win the Big Ten. Going to the Rose Bowl was the reward for winning the Big Ten and beating Michigan. Things are different now. I don't think the emphasis on the national championship was anything then like it is today. At that time, the only bowl you could play in was the Rose Bowl. To get there, you had to beat Michigan and win the Big Ten. There was no strong motivation to win the national championship ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:39:39 AM)
As I look back, the only thing we didn't get was the national title and we could or should have done it twice in 4 years.

redondo (Aug 8, 2006 10:39:50 AM)
Hi Brian - I apologize in advance for the following question, but for all these years I've really wanted an insider's perspective on the the 75 season versus UCLA. From my vague recollection of watching it at the time, in the first game in the coliseum, I don't think the Buckeyes punted once as they man-handled the Bruins. The Rose Bowl was a different story. From this remote vantage point in time, why do you think the Bruins showed so much better in the Rose Bowl? Did Vermiel figure something out or was it something else? (it was a very bitter day for me, I can only imagine what it was like for you and the other Buckeyes). Thank you.

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:42:31 AM)
It was quite a bitter day for me as well. UCLA was a much better team when we played them in the Rose Bowl than earlier in the year. I probably was more nervous in the first UCLA game than in any game I had ever played. We respected UCLA. When you have that much respect, you play your best game. After beating them the way we did, I don't think we approached the game the same way. As a result and with UCLA being much improved, I think they ended up beating us. We probably underestimated their improvement and the team we played. We lost when we probably shouldn't have. That's one of the low points probably of my college career.

redondo (Aug 8, 2006 10:42:44 AM)
Hi Brian - One other question about the '76 Rose Bowl, if OSU had won, would Woody have retired? Thank you.

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:43:57 AM)
I think Woody would have continued to coach as long as his health would have allowed him. I think he would have approached retirement like Paterno has. I don't think he had a goal to win the national title. Coaching was his life. It is not coincidental that his health went downhill after he got done coaching.

scribeohio (Aug 8, 2006 10:44:13 AM)
Brian, who do you keep in touch with from the team and do the members get together?

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:46:15 AM)
There are guys I played against and saw in the pros. From OSU, probably Doug Plank. I talk to Archie and Tim Fox periodically. Doug lives in Arizona and coaches arena league in Atlanta, which is an odd arrangement. It's not condusive for us to see each other but we do keep in touch ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:46:38 AM)
I had a teammate that I kept in contact with but he moved to Montana. He was Gary McCutcheon.

SteveHelwagen (Aug 8, 2006 10:46:44 AM)
Thanks to everyone for dropping by. We have time for one more question for Brian...

MacAuley (Aug 8, 2006 10:46:50 AM)
In your opinion - how are Coach hayes and Coach Tressel different and how are the similar?

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:47:45 AM)
I never played for Jim Tressel, so I can't speak firsthand. The similarities are the fact that Ohio State is everything. Doing well for the university and winning for the university is top priority. They each had that attitude. They believe in tradition ...

BrianBaschnagel (Aug 8, 2006 10:48:54 AM)
They are similar in approach to the athletes and to education. They are significantly different. Tressel seems to be in complete control, but he gives his assistants leeway. The major decisions are his. Woody controlled just about every aspect when he coached. That was probably the biggest difference between he and Coach Tressel.

SteveHelwagen (Aug 8, 2006 10:49:03 AM)
Thanks Brian and thanks to everyone for stopping by! Enjoy the rest of your afternoon.

Guest (Aug 8, 2006 10:49:07 AM)

redondo (Aug 8, 2006 10:49:09 AM)
Thanks Brian!!! Excellent chat!!!

scribeohio (Aug 8, 2006 10:49:13 AM)
Just wanted to thank Brian for his time today, the wonderful memories, his future, and good luck to his kids in college. Go Bucks

kbbuckfan (Aug 8, 2006 10:49:18 AM)
Thanks Brian!

EDITOR'S NOTE -- Below is the link for BuckeyeLegends.com. As noted in the Chat, the Legends are planning a golf outing for Aug. 25 at the Clover Valley Golf Club.

For more details, click the link below for the Buckeye Legends web site.

BuckeyeLegends.com home page

This Chat is a great example of some of the neat events we have planned each week for Bucknuts.com subscribers.

We invite you to take a one-week free trial and see what you're missing. Or, better yet, sign up for a year and get the web site, access to our premium message boards (Ask The Insiders and The Buckeye Grove), one year of Bucknuts The Magazine (10 issues) and as added bonuses one year of Sports Illustrated (56 issues) and a copy of our book on the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, "The Greatest Game Ever Played."

Click the link below to check it all out:

Details On Bucknuts Promotion

Buckeye Sports Top Stories