There will be a special ceremony at halftime of Saturday’s Ohio State game with Penn State at Ohio Stadium (noon, ABC).
The university will officially retire uniform No. 47, the number Chic Harley wore for at least his final game at OSU. Harley was the school’s first three-time All-American (1916-17, 1919).
Harley’s name will join those of OSU’s five Heisman Trophy winners – Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, Archie Griffin and Eddie George – in the ring of honor on the façade of C-deck on the north end of Ohio Stadium.
The Horseshoe, dedicated in 1922, is often referred to as the “House that Harley built.” That is in reference to the overflow crowds Harley drew to watch the Buckeyes at long-gone Ohio Field near North High Street.
There is a tie between Chic Harley and the current Ohio State team as his great-great-nephew, Rob Harley, is a senior walk-on defensive back for the Buckeyes. Rob Harley will join members of his family on the field for the ceremony at halftime.
“I will have a lot of relatives there,” Rob Harley said. “My grandpa, William Harley, was Chic’s nephew. He will be here. My father (Bob) will be on the field as well as I accept the jersey.”
Chic Harley’s exploits were many. He helped lead OSU to Big Ten titles in 1916 and 1917, then spent 1918 in the military during World War I before coming back and helping OSU take second in the conference in 1919. His OSU teams were a combined 21-1-1.
“Every Christmas, my grandpa would bring up the stories of what Chic had done,” Rob Harley said. “He’s a big part of our family and a great tradition to carry on.
“One of the big things for me is to go over to the Buckeye Hall of Fame Café and see he was a four-sport letterman in basketball, track, baseball and football. That’s unbelievable to me. For one man to have the ability to do that, that is amazing. It’s unfortunate we don’t have film of that. We have no idea how good he really was. He must have been amazing.
“All we have are the newspaper clippings. That was a time when the newspaper writers were like poets. Those were the leather helmet days, I guess.”
OSU officials had to scour to find a photo where Harley was depicted wearing a uniform number.
“I read in one of our game programs that the last game of his senior year they started wearing numbers,” Rob Harley said. “I guess he wore (47) in one game.”
Rob Harley came to OSU from York High School in Elmhurst, Ill.
“I wanted to come here since I was 3 years old,” he said.
Upon arriving at OSU, he was given the nickname Chic as coaches and teammates kidded him about his famous relative. Harley has worked his way into a spot on various special teams, including the kickoff return, punt block and kickoff coverage teams. He hasn’t played on defense in a game yet but said, “This week would be a heck of a time to do it.
“To see the Harley name up on the stadium, that will remind me every time I come back. That’s a great honor for Chic to have.”
OSU coach Jim Tressel discussed the special honor for Chic Harley.
“We do have a little something that some people brought and put above our locker room doors about the legend of Chic Harley and he's the one that made the legend possible,” Tressel said. “We have our own Chic Harley, so I've heard the name Chic thrown around our practice field constantly and he takes great pride in the fact that his family member is going to be recognized and was one of the greats in the history and one of the people that made bigger and better things happen. So that will be an exciting day.”
Junior linebacker A.J. Hawk wears No. 47 for the Buckeyes currently. He will continue to wear it until his career is complete, then it will not be reissued.
“He’s a great player,” Rob Harley said of Hawk. “Obviously, Chic’s better. I make sure to tell him about that.”
Harley’s No. 47 will join the retired numbers of Horvath (22), Janowicz (31), Cassady (40), Griffin (45) and George (27).
The Kid Named Hall
OSU senior Maurice Hall figures to break the school record for kickoff return yardage during Saturday’s game with Penn State. Hall has 1,405 yards in kick return yardage, 5 yards shy of the mark of 1,410 set by Ken-Yon Rambo from 1997-2000. Hall has 62 kick returns in his career, which is also an OSU mark.
“I’m thankful to be on the kickoff return team,” Hall said.
When asked if he is a kick return guy or a tailback, Hall replied, “I’m a tailback who happens to be a kickoff return guy.”
Hall is ranked 21st nationally at 26.4 yards per kick return. He discussed the secret to good returns.
“The secret is you have to have a kickoff return team that will block for you,” he said. “Then, when you see the hole, you have to burst through it and go.”
Tressel hoped new assistant Darrell Hazell would energize the return game, and that is what has happened in large part.
“Coach Hazell was known a little bit for his kickoff returns and success with that in the past,” Hall said. “It shows that he is focused on the return team and that makes everybody work harder with their running and blocking.”
Hall picked Ohio State over Florida State, Penn State and many other schools. But between playing behind Maurice Clarett and Lydell Ross and dealing with numerous knee injuries, Hall accepts how his career has gone.
“I have no regrets,” he said. “If I had it to do all over again, I would probably come to Ohio State again. I would be a tailback and return guy here.”
Against Indiana, Hall started at tailback in place of the suspended Ross. He matched his season high with seven carries, netting 43 yards.
“When I get a chance to run the ball, I want to take it to the house every time,” Hall said. “I want to make the best of every opportunity I get.”
Lou Groza Award?
It is also coming down to the wire for senior kicker Mike Nugent in his quest to leave OSU as the school’s career scoring leader.
After scoring 12 points in the win over Indiana, Nugent now has 314 career points. He stands third on the OSU list behind Pete Johnson (348) and Dan Stultz (342). He needs 34 points before the season ends to overtake Johnson.
He made all three of his field goal kicks against Indiana to get to 15 of 17 on the field. One of those was a 52-yarder, making him 7 of 8 in his career from 50 yards or beyond.
Nugent was asked about his range.
“I think maybe in a game, if the wind is not too bad, the farthest I could make it might be 63 or 64 yards,” Nugent said. “It all depends on the situation of the game. I doubt midway through the first quarter we would try a 57- or 58-yarder.”
Despite OSU’s troubles, Nugent was asked if figures he has a chance to win the Lou Groza Award. That award is given to the nation’s top kicker.
“The year we won the national championship, (Iowa’s) Nate Kaeding won it,” Nugent said. “Awards are one of the things you hate to talk about early in the season. If you just do your job, you’ll be there at the end.”
Groza attended Ohio State, but never played for the Buckeyes before going on to professional football.
“I know a lot about Lou Groza,” Nugent said. “He passed away the year before I went (to the awards ceremony, in 2002). I met his family and got to know his wife. His wife knew Coach Tressel’s family well because they were from Berea, Ohio.”
The Deal Is Off
One day after Ohio State and Michigan made a joint announcement that they had sold naming rights to their annual Big Ten showdown – forever known as The Game – to SBC, the schools recanted and announced they would reject the reported $1 million from the communications giant.
For at least two years, The Game would have been known as the SBC Michigan-Ohio State Classic. Each school was guaranteed $250,000 per year. But public reaction to the announcement was swift and largely negative, prompting the schools to reconsider.
Here are excerpts from a joint release from the schools explaining the sudden change:
An agreement for SBC to sponsor the Ohio State-Michigan football games in 2004 and 2005 will not go forward, officials from both universities announced today (Oct. 27).
Although the institutions were close to an agreement to have SBC support the games and supply funding to other programs at the two schools, the details of the contract could not be finalized to the schools’ satisfaction.
Andy Geiger, director of athletics at The Ohio State University, said: “We were excited about the positive impact the agreement would have on the Department of Athletics, the University and the community. But as we attempted to move forward, it became apparent that this agreement could detract from the great tradition of the game itself. Given that possibility, and the fast-approaching date of this year’s game, the two universities agreed it was in their best interest not to pursue the arrangement at this time.
“We are very grateful to SBC for their willingness to participate in this great event, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with them as a corporate sponsor.”
Bill Martin, director of athletics at the University of Michigan, said: “We greatly value the support SBC has given to our athletic department over the years, and they are a terrific corporate sponsor. I believe that corporate support is essential to the financial health of our athletics program, and to our ability to offer opportunities for student-athletes to compete at the national level. However, that support has to be consistent with our values and the tradition we share with our fans.”