In Their Words is a weekly feature appearing Sundays in The Blade's sports section. Sports writer Matt Markey recently talked with Jack Park, an Ohio State graduate and a leading historian on Buckeyes football.
Jack Park set out to become an efficient and effective certified public accountant. And he did that. But somewhere along the way, the native of New Lexington, Ohio, also became the definitive source on Ohio State football, and an expert on the history of the college game.
Park never played football beyond high school, but his passion for the Buckeyes started early on, when his father played in the Ohio State marching band. He read everything he could on the Buckeyes and developed an insatiable appetite for their rich football history and traditions.
A chance meeting with a Columbus radio personality in 1979 landed Park a guest spot on a talk show that was to precede a Columbus Clippers minor league baseball game. When a downpour nixed the game, the station had no plan so it stuck with Park, and he took questions on the Buckeyes from a full phone bank for more than two hours.
That response got Park invited back, and that rained out baseball game led to many more radio appearances, speaking engagements, and several books on the Buckeyes. He has written Ohio State Football . . . The Great Tradition and The Official Ohio State Football Encyclopedia which he later updated after the Buckeyes won the 2002 National Championship.
Park continues to make his living as a CPA but still does regular radio work on the Buckeyes, and he also conducts a lot of leadership training seminars that incorporate his knowledge of the business world with his storehouse of info on Ohio State and college football. It does not take long for the question-and-answer sessions at these seminars to evolve into Buckeyes trivia and story telling.
"THIS WAS NOT something I set out to do or ever intended to do - it just sort of happened. I've been a big Ohio State fan all my life, and I guess that took me down a road to where I am today, with people asking me all the time about the history of the Buckeyes. I guess I'm the only guy on the radio who is not a former player or a professional broadcast journalist, but when the subject is Ohio State football, I feel pretty comfortable talking about it."
"IN MY BUSINESS seminars, I talk a lot about the leadership secrets of football's master coaches - guys like Vince Lombardi, Knute Rockne, and certainly Paul Brown and Woody Hayes from Ohio State are in that group. The information I have comes from a wide range of sources, but when it comes to the Buckeyes, I've been to somewhere between 400 and 500 Ohio State games, and interviewed hundreds of players, some of whom are gone now. And there are a lot of them who are gone that I wished I had talked with before they passed away. People are the best source of information, the best source of stories."
"OF COURSE I read all of the major newspaper accounts, magazine stories, and anything else I could find on Ohio State, but I found some of the most interesting stories by researching the other schools' football publications. That gives you a different perspective. In 1953, Illinois came out of the locker room first and started to warm up on the south end of the field, where Ohio State always warmed up. When the Buckeyes came out, they forced Illinois to pick up all of its equipment and move to the other end. The Illinois captain, this big Irish kid, was furious about it and got his team all riled up, and they won 41-20, giving Ohio State one of the soundest beatings ever in the Woody Hayes era."
"THE MOST TALENTED athlete ever to play football at Ohio State: Vic Janowicz. He was a guy who could do it all - he could run, throw, catch the football, play safety, kick off and punt. He did everything but twirl the baton with the band, and he probably could have been pretty good at that too. And he was one of the nicest guys you would ever meet. After his dad passed away, Janowicz still went back home to help his mom plant the garden."
"ARCHIE GRIFFIN WAS the most consistent player ever at Ohio State, from start to finish. He was consistently excellent. Archie broke in on top and never went down, not a bit. He came off the bench in September of 1972 as a freshman, and never looked back."
"ORLANDO PACE WAS a guy who probably played his position as well as anyone ever did at Ohio State. Every play, every game he was just so sound, so efficient, so strong, and so technically flawless. He worked in the trenches so it was harder for people to observe, but Orlando Pace was just an exceptional player at the offensive tackle position."
"ONE OF THE most interesting Ohio State football stories involves how close Ohio State came to hiring someone other than Woody Hayes, who coached here for 28 years, from 1951 to 1978. Wes Fesler resigned after the 1950 season, and Ohio State athletic director Dick Larkins and his search committee picked Don Faurot, then the head coach at Missouri, from the seven finalists that included Woody.
"FAUROT MET WITH the committee on a Saturday and accepted the job, but just before the start of a Monday press conference to announce his hiring, Faurot called to say he had changed his mind and was staying at Missouri. The stunned selection committee then offered the job to Woody Hayes, who was the head coach at Miami of Ohio, and he accepted. Since Woody did more to establish Ohio State's great football tradition than any other individual, you have to wonder how things would have turned out if Don Faurot had not changed his mind."
Contact Matt Markey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6510.