"It's probably the nicest thing that's ever happened to me," Savic said. "I didn't anticipate getting the honor, but once your chosen you look back and you say, ‘Well maybe I do fit in.' "
Savic came to the United States as a 9-year-old from Drago, Macedonia – a town near the border with Greece – and served his adoptive country during World War II. Upon his return to Youngstown, Savic attended Ohio State and joined the football team, playing for the Buckeyes from 1947 to 1949.
"I came home and made the team, and it was like going to Heaven almost," Savic said.
Savic may be best remembered for rallying Ohio State to a tie in the 1949 game at Michigan. Playing for a share for the Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes fell behind 7-0 on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Walt Teninga to Leo Koceski on Michigan's second possession. The scored stayed that way until the fourth quarter. That's when Savic and the Buckeyes took over with 10 minutes remaining at the OSU 20-yard line. Ohio State went on a six-play, 80-yard scoring drive – highlighted by a 49-yard pass from Savic to Ray Hamilton.
"We were behind with about eight minutes to go, and I remember working a series of plays down around the 35, 40-yard line, and threw behind the linebackers," Savic said. "We scored a touchdown right after that and tied up the ball game. It was exciting."
Fullback Curly Morrison finished the drive with a short TD run, and placekicker Jimmy Hague booted the crucial extra point to send the Buckeyes to Pasadena. Ohio State defeated California in the 1950 Rose Bowl for its first bowl victory in program history. Savic gained 16 total yards against the Bears, including six crucial yards as the Buckeyes attempted to run out the clock with a 17-14 lead.
Savic led Ohio State in passing in 1948 and 1949 and threw for 581 yards and six touchdowns as a senior in '49. After graduation, Savic continued to succeed – only this time in the world of business. He started an industrial safety business and later helped good friend Jack Nicklaus start the Memorial Tournament and develop Muirfield Village Golf Club in suburban Columbus.
Nicklaus and Savic have known each other for nearly 50 years, and Nicklaus – who was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1977 – was on hand to watch his friend's induction. The golf legend said he remembered meeting Savic when Nicklaus was only 7-years old.
"He used to come to my dad's drugstore at Chittenden and High, and he first saw me when I was stuffing my pockets with candy," said Nicklaus, who used to watch Savic's on-field exploits from the Ohio Stadium grandstands. "He pointed it out to my aunt, and she said, ‘Oh, that's Charlie's boy. Don't worry about it.' "
Since then Nicklaus and Savic's friendship has steadily grown. They even lived across the street from each other after Nicklaus got married in 1961.
"We were friends before that, but then we became very close friends," Nicklaus said. "He's been a great friend for almost 50 years."