COLUMBUS — Four dates separated by 63 years have helped make the Ohio State-Michigan football rivalry what it is today.
They are Feb. 19, 1951; Dec. 27, 1968; Nov. 28, 2011 and Dec. 16, 2014.
Those are the dates when Ohio State or Michigan hired Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh.
The rivalry never burned hotter than when Hayes and Schembechler coached against each other from 1969-1978.
And with Meyer and Harbaugh dueling on the field and on the recruiting trail, it might again become what it was in the 1970s, only magnified because of so much more media attention now.
Meyer and Harbaugh were the perfect hires for their schools, which were both searching for someone to lead them out of troubled times. Michigan and Ohio State got exactly who they wanted. And they got someone who also was the dream hire of their fan base.
Meyer and Harbaugh quickly led their teams back to the elite level of college football. Their annual match-ups could become as historic as those of Schembechler and Hayes.
Woody and Bo became legends, but did not arrive with the reputations of the current coaches. It was a different time in many ways.
The headline on the Detroit News’ story about Schembechler’s hiring after six seasons at Miami (Ohio) said, “Bo Who?” And Bo reportedly was upset that his wife, Millie, had gone over budget and paid $58,000 for a house in Ann Arbor.
Hayes apparently was Ohio State’s second choice after Missouri coach Don Faurot, who turned down OSU’s offer. Ohio State interviewed eight coaches for the job, including two high school coaches and the Buckeyes’ freshman coach. Hayes’ first salary at OSU was $12,500.
At any price, Ohio State and Michigan struck gold then and now.