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The History of Ohio State Football

The history of Ohio State football is a rich tapestry that mirrors the evolution and passion of American college football. Since its inception, Ohio State University's football program has grown to become one of the most storied and successful in the sport's history.

Early Years

Ohio State football began in 1890. The team played its first game on May 3, 1890, against Ohio Wesleyan University but did not secure its first win until two years later. Football was a burgeoning sport at the time, and the early years of Ohio State football were characterized by a lack of organization and the absence of a dedicated conference.

Joining the Big Ten

The program's fortunes began to change in 1912 when Ohio State became a member of the Western Conference, later known as the Big Ten Conference. This membership helped to stabilize the program and set the stage for future success.

The Hayes Era

Woody Hayes, appointed head coach in 1951, transformed Ohio State into a national powerhouse over his 28-year tenure. Hayes's leadership brought the team five national championships (1954, 1957, 1961, 1968, and 1970) and 13 Big Ten Conference titles. His intense coaching style and emphasis on the running game and tough defense became hallmarks of Ohio State football. However, his career ended controversially in 1978 after he struck an opposing player during the Gator Bowl.

Continued Success

After Hayes, Ohio State experienced varying degrees of success under coaches like Earle Bruce, John Cooper, Jim Tressel, Urban Meyer, and Ryan Day. Each brought their unique contributions to the program. Jim Tressel led the team to a national championship in 2002, restoring Ohio State to the summit of college football.

Urban Meyer took over in 2012 and brought a modern spread offense to Columbus. Under Meyer, Ohio State won another national championship in 2014, showcasing the program's ability to evolve with the changing landscape of college football.

The Present

Today, under the leadership of Ryan Day, Ohio State continues to be a dominant force in college football, regularly competing for Big Ten titles and national championships. The program's emphasis on recruiting top talent, combined with a commitment to excellence both on and off the field, ensures that Ohio State football remains a perennial contender.


Ohio State's football program is known for its storied traditions, such as dotting the "i" in Script Ohio, a performance by the Ohio State University Marching Band. The rivalry with the University of Michigan, known as "The Game," is one of the most celebrated in college sports.

With multiple national championships, numerous conference titles, and a consistent presence in the postseason, Ohio State's football legacy is marked by excellence, innovation, and a passionate fan base that spans generations. This legacy is not just about the wins and losses but also about the impact the program has had on college football, its players, and the broader sports culture in the United States.

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