Living Large in Northeast Ohio
March 5, 2016
By: Mark G. Mangie
Bob: He'd take a map out and say, “You know there isn't a state around here that has a Toledo and Cleveland and Youngstown and Warren and Columbus and Cincinnati and Springfield. There isn't another state around that has things to offer job wise that the State of Ohio has.” That was true back in those days. He said, “We've got alums all over the place that are looking to hire guys when they graduate and get out of school. The advantage to coming here is not only the football but the education and the contacts.” I would sell not only the university and of course Woody but I would sell Ohio. There weren't any recruiters around doing stuff like that.
Mark: So...how would you pick a player?
Bob: Well, the way it worked was, they would send out to every high school coach in Ohio and ask…who is the best player on his team or who was the best player they ever played against. And all this information would be...
Mark: The University will do that.
Bob: Yeah, They would do that and all these names and things would start to match up. They would get quite a large list. Today, some of those kids commit as juniors. But back then you went through your senior year. Signing date wasn't until May. Now it's in February. Woody had a lot of time to evaluate kids as seniors and we were sent a list of names. It was up to me to contact them. I would watch films then find out if they were interested in Ohio State. Then I would go to the homes. Meet the parents and talk to them about the value of education generally and particularly at Ohio State. Over the years I would also get to know the teachers and janitors in the schools to get a feel for the student. There were some good players we wouldn't touch because of issues. It was up to me to find out whether he was a good student in addition to being a good player, or whether he was a touble maker.
Mark: How many players would you look at in a year?
Bob: Sometimes we would start with as many as four or five, but after going through the process it may have come down to just one or two.
Mark: When you went to visit a family, did you just show up at the door and say"hi?"
Bob: On the phone. I would say, “I represent the football department at Ohio State University. We're interested in your son. I'd like to come over and talk to you. Would you be interested in having your son come to OSU?” It was as much fun as you could possibly imagine. In the latter part of Woody's career I got to be good friends with Glen Mason who had become a coach at OSU. He would help with the recruiting. I would tell him what we were going to do with this kid or that kid, and we have a good chance of getting it if you don't screw it up. It was hilarious.
I remember when we recruited Bob Maggs who played for Cardinal Mooney. He was being pitched by Penn State in a major way. Earl Bruce was coach then. Earl was a fantastic guy, but just couldn't do what Woody did although he tried. Earl tended to be boring. So I had to get him fired up before visiting a student. Before we went to visit the Maggs, I took him aside and told him that Bob's mother told me she prefered Penn State because they had a much better coaching staff than Ohio State. That would set Earl off more than anything. Bruce got that look in his eye. When we visited the Magg home, he jumped out of his chair and started waiving his arms. Gave a major "rah rah State" pitch. Bob signed with Ohio State. Later on a trip to Beaver Falls, I told Glen Mason what I did. He had to pull over to the side of the road he was laughing so hard. Over the year Glen got to be good friends with Joe Paterno. He would tell that story over and over again about how Penn State got bested with Glen Mason.
Another story is about Tom Cousineau. Dick Walker, who was the defensive backfield coach, needed some help recruiting a kid up in the Cleveland area. They thought it might be a good idea if they called me in because the kid they were recruiting, Cousineau, was dating the daughter of a dentist and he was thinking he might want to be a dentist too!!!
So Walker called me up. He said Doc I got a problem up in Cleveland. Could you help us out? We got this kid named Tom Cousineau who is the number one pick nationally. Our regular Cleveland guy is sick and can't do it. The problem was he was also being actively recruited by Bo Schembechler from Michigan.
So I called him on the phone and gave him a little pitch. He said it would be alright to stop by and talk to him and his family. He and his father were both powerfully built men. Put side by side these guys were unbelievable.
I took Tom down to Columbus for what we called a 48 hour weekend. On the way down he told me that he always dreamed about going to Ohio State. Things went well and I visited his house a few more times and it looked like things were good to go.
On signing day I get some frantic phone calls from Woody. For the top recruits Woody Hayes always wanted to be the last coach to talk to a player before he made his decision. But something went wrong with Cousineau. He was the next to the last coach. Bo was up there talking...right in their living room. So I called them up. Tom's father came to the phone and told me that Bo was in the living room confusing the kid. I told him to put Tom on the phone. Tom came to the phone. I reminded him of what he told me on the way down to the 48 hours weekend in Columbus. I told him: "You march back into your living room and tell Coach Schembechler that it was always your dream to go to Ohio State and that is exactly what you are going to do!" Forty five minutes later Woody calls me up. He said whatever I said to him worked, and Tom signed for Ohio State. At the end of the season he gave me a Big 10 Championship ring from that year with my name on it and everything. Tom was the number one pick in the nation that year. That ring was a simple thing. I can never understand how something so little can mean so much.
That year I was also involved in recruiting Joe Hornik also from Cleveland. He and Tom played against each other in high school. Great Slovak family. I'm also Slovak so we hit it off from the beginning. When Woody came to visit the family, Joe said he wanted to be on the speciality teams and needed a scholarship. He committed right away, but I got to know the family...a great family. Joe ended up playing defensive tackle his junior and senior year. Both Tom and Joe are considered to be among the best football players to come out of Ohio.
Mark: How many years did you do recruiting for Ohio State?
Bob: 33 years. From 1968 to almost 2000. Did it for Woody. Did it for Bruce. And part of the time for John Cooper. The last one I was involved with in any way at all was Bo Pellini.
Mark: Was Woody Hayes as nice a guy as he seemed to be? I remember walking across the Oval when I was going to Ohio State. He was walking down the center sidewalk the other direction. I said "Hi Coach" and he stopped an talked with me a few minutes. He didn't have to. Seemed to be one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet.
Bob: Mark, after my dad, he was the greatest man I've ever known. And it was a privilege to be around him and listen to him talk. I remember being at New Castle Country Club for a gathering of the Penn State Alumni Club. There's a few pit bulls that organization. But he was invited to come and talk to them. He spoke for two hours. Five hundred people there and they didn't want him to go.. He was fantastic with people. He love loved everybody.
Tell you a story. I had a friend who lived in my neighborhood. At that time Strouss had music departments in their stores. He managed one up in Warren. I took him down to a game with me one year right at the beginning of the season. We went up to the recruiting room afterwards. Woody always went around to meet everybody. Woody came up to us and said "Who's this?" I said this is my neighbor. He sells pianos and organs and trumpets and stuff in a big department store. I took my friend back to another game the following year. When we went back to the recruiting room my friend wandered off by himself and bumped into Woody. Woody told him that he didn't remember his name, but that he did remember that he was their the previous year with Doc. Treated him like a million dollars. He was an amazing guy.
A Conversation with
BOB MARUSCHAK -FOOTBALL RECRUITER