So one of my boyhood idols is now dead, soon to be buried. Earle Bruce passed at a ripe old age. And now, I am in a mood.
When most of you Buckeye haters think of the quintessential Ohio State coach, you think of Woody Hayes. Maybe you think of Urban Meyer. If you are old enough to wish for the sweet release of death you might even think of Paul Brown. However, you are wrong, just like that loser football program you root for.
Earle Bruce is Ohio State football. Sure, I probably think that because he was the head coach when I was 4 and first started learning about Ohio State. However, it’s much deeper than that. He was the head coach holding off his players and sticking it to the number one ranked LSU Tigers. (My favorite Ohio State memory). That is not what makes him Mr. Buckeye. Nor is it the fact that he played for OSU and then became the heir apparent to Woody. Nor is it the fact that he played for the national title his first year as head coach, nor is it the fact that he was fired for literally having the best winning percentage in the Big Ten during his tenure.
Oh, and he literally has one of the best coaching trees in the history of the world. Some of you think the fact that he got fired is the story, and you would be wrong.
The moral of the story is that even though OSU wronged Earle Bruce, he was Mr. Buckeye till the day he died. He loved Ohio State. Not because they adored him, but because they treated him like shit. They literally canned him for never having a losing record and having the best winning percentage in the league. He knew, deep down inside, that he could have done better. He could have bitched and moaned that it wasn’t fair, and he did for a minute, and then he lead yet another team to a bowl game.
Then, like in every good hero story, scandal broke. He probably did slap that poor fullback around, and that’s not how the new world works. Cool. I get it. Deep down inside, he got it, too.
Earle Bruce has an argument as the greatest coach in Big Ten history. Not for his wins and losses, but for what he had to endure, and then his loyalty to the program. The closest comparison I have is Frank Solich, who has turned the Ohio program around, while being shit on in a similar fashion by Nebraska. When he dies, Nebraska fans wont shed a tear.
Maybe Nebraska was right to fire him, maybe they were wrong. Either way, I don’t see Nebraska feeling the same loss when Frank takes the dirt nap. Their loss.
Tonight, I am going to mourn Earle like he should be mourned. With the long history of coaches at Ohio State, I can honestly say I would take Earle at the helm with the best of them. That’s not sentimental, that’s fact.
Greatest Ohio State coach
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