Clash of Titans
Games featuring a future Hall of Fame coach on each sideline.
November 25, 1950: Miami (OH) @ Cincinnati
Woody Hayes vs Sid Gillman
This game pitted two coaches in the early stages of their careers who would go on to greater fame and fortune – Woody Hayes at Ohio State and Sid Gillman in the American Football League. They were two coaches with very different philosophies of offensive football.
Woody Hayes had just completed his third season as head coach at Denison Col­lege, a small liberal arts school in Granville OH that was a member of the Ohio Athletic Conference. Woody played tackle at Denison from 1933-35, then coached at the high school level until entering the Navy in 1941. He finished his four years of service dur­ing World War II as a Lieutenant Commander who commanded a destroyer-escort ship.
After a 2-6 season in 1946, the Denison Big Red did not lose a game the next two seasons. Those results caught the eye of a larger school in Ohio, Miami University in Oxford. Impressed by the recommendation of Cleveland Browns Coach Paul Brown, an alumnus who roomed with Hayes during graduate school at Ohio State, Miami hired Hayes for the 1949 season.
Sid Gillman had been an assistant coach at Denison and Woody's line coach his senior year in 1935. Gillman became the head coach at Miami in 1944 and compiled a 31-6-1 record before leaving at the end of the 1947 season to become an assistant coach at West Point, a move that Sid hoped would be a steppingstone to a head coaching job in a major conference like the Big Ten.
Gillman's mentor and inspiration to become a coach was Francis Schmidt, the head coach at Ohio State from 1934-40. Schmidt was offense-minded, spending lots of his free time devising new plays. Where other successful coaches had 30 to 40 plays they could choose from, Schmidt had more than 300. He ran plays from a single-wing formation, a double-wing, and a short-punt. Schmidt wanted the next opponent's de­fense to exhaust themselves preparing for all that he might throw at them.
Gillman became Schmidt's assistant and his pupil in offensive football in the spring of 1934, right after Sid completed his eligibility at Ohio State under the previous coach, Sam Willaman. Schmidt was immediately impressed by Gillman"s football intelligence while Sid considered Francis one of the greatest minds he"d ever met and a mentor who could prepare him to become a head coach.

L: Woody Hayes (Miami Recensio Yearbook Class of 1951)
R: Sid Gilman (Cincinnati Cincinnatian Yearbook ClassOf1951)
Before spring practice was over, Gillman began to rethink his plan to go to law school. Since Schmidt didn't have the money to offer him an assistant coach position at Ohio State, Sid needed to get a job. As luck would have it, Denison offered him an assistant coach position.
After three years at Denison, Gillman went back to Ohio State for three years as an assistant to Schmidt. When Schmidt was fired, Sid returned to Denison as line coach before becoming an assistant at Miami for two years.
Gillman became Miami's head coach in 1944, compiling a 31-6-1 record that led to his moving up to Cincinnati in 1949. Gillman led the Bearcats to the MidAmerican Conference championship that year with a 7-4 overall record.
Hayes Takes over at Miami
Woody Hayes had problems with his new squad when he became Miami head coach in 1949. Following Gillman's departure after the 1947 season, his top assistant George Blackburn became Miami head coach for one season before joining Gillman at Cincinnati.
Hayes and Gillman could not be further apart in their coaching philosophies. Hayes was an undistinguished lineman in high school while Gillman was a high school standout who became a star end and captain at Ohio State. Sid's coaching style em­phasized speed and intricate passing plays. Woody liked to run the ball and preferred power over speed. Both demanded perfection on the practice field, but Woody would berate players over the wrong block or a fumble whereas Gillman would quietly cor­rect players for a line split that was too wide.
As John Lombardo wrote in A Fire to Win: "Woody's football field was a battle­ground, Sid's was a laboratory. Woody would put the game in his fullback's hands to pound out first downs, while Gillman would hand the quarterback the keys to the offense, creating multiple formations and options for the wide-open attack to confuse defenses more accustomed to a basic running game."
Most of the Miami players had never heard of Hayes when he came from Denison. They were unimpressed with his record at the smaller school. It wasn't in Woody's nature to try to make a good first impression. He could be direct, even abrupt, and not friendly in his interactions with his new charges.
What little goodwill Hayes might have earned his first weeks on the job dissipated quickly when spring practice began. Every practice was in full pads with full speed contact. As was the case with most coaches at the time, Woody allowed no water and no breaks. The objective was to make the squad "tough."
One member of Hayes"s first Miami squad was HB John Pont, future head coach at Miami as well as Indiana and Northwestern. He recalled, "When Woody got to Oxford he had to win over the players, unlike when a new coach comes into a losing program and is seen as some sort of messiah. The players loved Sid and followed him to Cincinnati, and they also loved George. Now here comes Woody from a small school, and it just took time. He had to really work to win."
Even though his offensive coordinator was John Brickels, who had hired Woody to his first coaching job in 1936, Hayes devoted most of his preseason practice time in­stalling his offense, which was diametrically opposite to Gillman"s "wide open" ap­proach. Where Gillman would call 25 passes per game, Hayes" first Miami team threw just 12-15. Pont recalled, "We ran a bit of everything. I ran direct plays from the center, and we also threw the ball. It was not as conservative as you"d think."
Mel Olix, who won the starting quarterback job, said, "Several of the fellas didn"t think Woody"s system was updated. Sid wanted smaller, faster players, and he spent more time on technique. With Woody, well it took us about two nights to learn his playbook and blocking schemes."
After winning their 1949 opener, the Redskins lost three in a row: at Virginia, to a Xavier team that would finish 10-1, and at #15 Pittsburgh.
The Miami offense became so frustrated in the Pittsburgh game that they reverted to their old ways. Olix recalled, "We were 20 points down and started using some of Sid's maneuvers, and Brickels allowed us to do it, which was unheard of. But Woody was so excited about us scoring that he didn't recognize what we were doing. He was just happy we were scoring." The final deficit was cut to nine, 35-26.
At that point, the players clamored for a return to Gillman's system but were re­buffed. "Why he wouldn't use it, I don't know," recalled Olix, "but I really don't think he understood it. Woody just couldn't put his finger on it."
Continuing to use the hybrid offense, the Redskins won four in a row before losing to Gillman's first Cincinnati team 27-5.
The 1950 Bearcats were 8-2 as they hosted Miami in the annual finale. They al­ready enjoyed a selected to the Sun Bowl in El Paso TX New Year"s Day.
Hayes' second Redskins team had lost only once in eight games and hoped to get a bowl bid with a victory.

Cincinnati sideline during the game (Cincinnati Cincinnatian Yearbook Class Of 1951)
Brutal Conditions Prevail
The 55th meeting between the two schools was played in frigid conditions. Players on both sides wore long underwear and gloves to deal with the 12° temperature at kickoff. Both teams had basketball shoes on hand if the frozen ground made regulation cleats untenable. Although 21,000 tickets had been sold in advance, only 5,000 spec­tators were on hand for the kickoff although that number rose to 13,000 during the fray. Most of the game was played in a driving snowstorm.
That same afternoon, Michigan and Ohio State played an epic game in a blinding snowstorm further north in Columbus OH. Michigan won 9-3. Read about it ...
The teams exchanged turnovers early in the game, with the second one leading to the first score. On a play that must have made Hayes think, "Take that, Gillman! We can pass too!" Miami QB Jim Root connected on a 36y pass to Al Maccioli to the UC 22. On third-and-four, Jerry Beckrest fumbled, and Cincinnati's Gene Gibson re­covered on the UC 12. But the Bearcats gave the ball right back. On third down, QB Gene Rossi lost control of the pigskin as he tried to pass, and Larry Hawkins grab­bed the ball on the UC 14.
Redskins Score First
Then the Redskins got another break. On third-and-six, "Boxcar Jim" Bailey gained 9y through right tackle but fumbled. However, Miami captain Dick Urich recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Paul Sautter converted. Miami 7 Cincinnati 0 after five minutes of play.

L-R: John Pont, Jim Root, Jerry Beckrest, Nobby Wirkowski, Buddy Acus
(Cincinnati Cincinnatian Yearbook Class Of 1951)
The Bearcats moved quickly into Miami territory only to be thwarted by another turnover. Starting from their 46 after a kickoff return to the 31 and a 15y penalty on Miami, the Bearcats surprisingly stayed on the ground, running the ball seven straight times to the 18. But Danny McKeever fumbled, and Bob Hemgartner re­covered for Miami on the 18. That would prove to be Cincinnati's only serious offen­sive threat of the game.
Another Fumble Recovery in the End Zone
The Redskins marched to their second touchdown. The big gainer was Pont's 45y scamper on a draw play to the UC 11. Bailey added 10 more to the one. Then came another break for Miami. Rarely does a player recover two fumbles in the end zone in one game, but that's what happened next. Senior QB Nobby Wirkowski fumbled trying to hand to Pont, and Urich was Johnny on the Spot again, falling on the ball in the end zone. Miami 14 Cincinnati 0
The Bearcats continued to get in their own way. After a good kickoff return to the 38, runs by Tom McKeever and Bob Stratton moved the chains to the 49. McKee­ver fumbled the frosty pigskin again. Stratton recovered for a 6y loss. Then Rossi tried to pass but was dropped for a loss of 12.
Early in the second quarter, Bailey broke loose over left tackle and galloped 52y for a touchdown that was nullified by an offside penalty on Miami.

Action in the snowstorm (Cincinnati Cincinnatian Yearbook Class Of 1951)
Just two minutes later after an exchange of punts, Buddy Acus pulled in a Cincin­nati punt on the Miami 48. He took five steps, shook off four Bearcat tacklers, and galloped to the end zone. Miami 21 Cincinnati 0
It was Acus again who set up the final Redskin score a minute before halftime. He took another Delaney punt, this one on his 45, and raced to UC's seven before the punter knocked him out of bounds. Four plays later, Bailey hurdled over a pile of play­ers for the score. Miami 28 Cincinnati 0 with 25 seconds before halftime.
The second half was anti-climactic. The only question was whether Cincinnati would score. With the field conditions getting worse, they not only didn't score, they never even got close. Aided by the weather, the Redskins held Gillman's offense to just 130y.
The Redskins almost tallied again midway through the fourth quarter when Cincy's Roger McKenzie fumbled after gaining 15y, and ballhawk Urich made his third recov­ery of the afternoon. Miami reached the three, and Art Jatrzebski cracked across from there, but the touchdown was nullified by an offside penalty. Three minutes later, the one-sided affair ended.
Woody Exultant
The deliriously happy Redskins bore Hayes on their shoulders – no small task – to the dressing room. "It was wonderful, simply wonderful," beamed Woody. "We didn't make any mistakes. Heroes? All of my kids were heroes. No one particularly starred. It was a team victory. All week I've been telling the team that we could beat Cincinnati if we made no mistakes. We had signs posted on the bulletin boards emphasizing per­fect football."
Gillman suffered the first shutout of any team he coached. All he could say was, "Miami has a fine ball club. They deserved to win." Asked if the weather had any bear­ing on the outcome, he replied, "We have no alibis. I would say, however, that the wea­ther would trouble one team. I guess it bothered us more than Miami."
A Fire to Win: The Life and Times of Woody Hayes, John Lombardo (2005)
Sid Gillman: Father of the Passing Game, Josh Katzowitz (2012)