The coach who replaced Woody Hayes on the sidelines in Ohio Stadium was perhaps never more popular than when he was fired
Ohio State University released a statement Friday morning, April 20, announcing the death of former football coach Earle Bruce. The statement, co-authored by his four daughters, read, “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, Coach Earle Bruce, early this morning, Friday, April 20. He was a great man, a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and a respected coach to many. Our family will miss him dearly, but we take solace in the belief that he is in a better place and reunited with his beloved wife, Jean. We thank you for your prayers and good wishes.”
Bruce coached the Buckeyes for nine seasons from 1979-1987, attaining a record of 81-26-1. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017.
Bruce, on the heels of seven consecutive three-loss seasons, saw his team lose four straight heading into the finale against Michigan. OSU’s president at the time, Ed Jennings, ordered athletic director Rick Bay to fire Bruce. Bay refused and resigned in protest.
The entire saga was captured in Columbus Monthly story titled, “The Week the Town Went Crazy” by then-staff writer Ray Paprocki, who now serves as the publisher of the Dispatch Media Group’s magazine division, which includes Columbus Monthly.
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