Woody Hayes is one of the greatest football coaches in history—and one of the most fascinating. More than a brilliant coach, he was a complicated, contradictory man. The former history teacher would tout the ideals of democracy yet run his football empire as an absolute monarchy. But he had a surprisingly altruistic side, hidden from the public,. and Hayes visited local hospitals, donated his time, money, and advice, and insisted that his players graduate. More than just a standard biography, A Fire to Win explores the psychological motivations of one of the most complex of coaches.
First and foremost, Woody Hayes was a coach—and his achievements are stunning. While at Ohio State, he won five national titles, and thirteen Big Ten Conference championships, made eight Rose Bowl appearances, and earned two national Coach of the Year awards. His killer instincts, honed in the navy, where he commanded a destroyer escort in the Pacific during World War II, helped him lead his teams to a 30-9 winning average. Moreover, Hayes’s lifetime coaching record, 238-72-10, puts him in the first rank of college coaching immortals. No other coach has won more games in a shorter period.
John Lombardo uses his extensive sports writing experience to craft an accurate portrait of one of the most complex and fascinating figures in football. Countless interviews of former players, assistant coaches, administrators, faculty, associates, and friends shape the image of Hayes and his career, which spanned the mid-1940s to the late 1970s during a tremendous period of change in American society. A Fire to Win is an honest and revealing biography of Hayes, a man who ranks in the pantheon of football coaches.