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By Matt McCoy
Back in 1984, when I was a scrawny freshman swimmer, I sat in the Ohio State locker room at Larkins Hall awestruck. The lengendary Woody Hayes was brought in by my coach Dick Sloan, to give an inspirational talk before my teammates and I headed to Indianapolis to compete in the Big Ten Championships.
"I know you've all worked hard to get to this point but when you finish your races and reach your goals you'll know it was worth it," Woody said in a soft, serious and inspirational tone. "Because in life, you're going to find out...Nothing in this world worth a DAMN comes easy."
We hung on every word Woody said and were more than ready for our meet. After his speech, Woody shook the hand of every member of the team and wished us all good luck. It was an unforgettable meeting with an icon and none of us thought it could get any better...It did.
Woody talked to us the afternoon before we headed to Indy. It so happened that a snow storm hit that day. Just hours after Woody's pep talk, we all trudged through the snow to have dinner at Baker Hall. As we sat and talked about Coach Hayes and thought about our Big Ten Championship weekend, in walked Woody.
Because of the snow, the dining hall at the Faculty Club had closed early. Woody wanted to eat. Like any other student, he waited in line, got his food and looked for a place to sit. There was one seat at our table. I don't remember who it was, but one of my teammates walked over the Coach Hayes and invited him to eat with us.
For the next half hour (we all ate slowly) we sat, talked and shared a Baker Hall commons meal with a college football legend.
What I remember most was being nervous and not knowing what to say if there was an awkward moment of silence in the conversation. That never happened. Woody went around the table, asked each of us our names, what events we swam and what we studied.
I don't remember exactly what I said but I do remember telling him that I came to Ohio State from the state of Indiana, to which he replied.
"I'm glad you didn't say you were from the state up north."
As Ohio State this week celebrates what would have been Woody's 100th birthday on Valentines Day, I'm grateful to have that memory.
I'm grateful that a legend took time to speak to a bunch of swimmers. I'm grateful that, hours later--a snowstorm closed the Faculty Club. I'm grateful that Woody chose to eat at Baker Hall and sit with the kids he just spoke to...and I'm grateful that I personally got to hear him say, "the state up north."
Happy Birthday Woody....and thanks for the memory.
That's my memory of Woody Hayes...Earle Bruce knew him much better. I talked to Earle about Woody. To listen click HERE:
Jeff Logan remembers
Former Buckeye captain Jeff Logan joined Joel Riley Thursday morning to talk about his memories of coach Hayes. If you haven't heard the story of the Buckeyes plane flight into Penn State in 1976, check it out. It's priceless.
Davidson Gets His Man
Ultimately, John Davidson went with his gut. The Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations fired Scott Howson and immediately replaced him with Jarmo Kekalainen.
"Scott Howson is a good man," Davidson said. "But we're in a phase where we want to make sure the message is very loud and very clear that we're in a position of change, we're in a position of getting a culture that's going to be in the right place. This is not a shot at Scott, this is a shot about change and changing a culture and getting it to where I need it to get to."
Davidson believes Kekalainen is the guy to change that culture. The two have worked together before. When Davidson was in St. Louis, rebuilding the Blues, Kekalainen was the assistant general manager and the director of amateur scouting.
Scouting for the Blue Jackets is of enormous importance considering the three first round picks they'll have in this June's draft.
Kekalainen will come to Columbus from Jokerit in the Finnish Elite League where he has been GM since 2010. Jokerit is currently the best team in that league.
"He's had success everywhere he's been and in everything he's done in the world of hockey," Davidson said of Kekalainen. "We expect him to do the same."
If you want to listen to Davidson's announcment on both the termination of Scott Howson and the hiring of Kekalainen click HERE: