Pat Brennan / Sports editor
Woody Hayes, the late former Ohio State football coach who led the Buckeyes to three national championships and 13 Big Ten titles, has returned to campus in statue form.
College Traditions, an OSU apparel and souvenir store located at 286 West Lane Ave., unveiled a life-size, bronze statue of the former Buckeyes’ coach on Sept. 12, and it is the latest piece of outdoor ornamentation for the store.
The 5-foot-9 statue of Hayes, entitled “First and Ten,” weighs more than 1,500 pounds and was purchased by College Traditions for $40,000.
Store owner and president Kelly Dawes said that installing the statue was a complex process and required the use of heavy-duty construction equipment.
“We had to put a footer in,” Dawes said. “(We) were constantly working with measurements.”
Dawes said the installment process was worthwhile and customers have already embraced the statue.
“It is incredible,” she said. “I can’t believe how much the statue looks like him. People have loved it. They’re already getting their picture taken with it. It’s been really neat.”
Tiffany Maloney, 24, of Columbus, Ohio, graduated from OSU in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in human ecology and is now a co-manager at College Traditions.
Maloney said she is excited to see how fans react to the statue on Saturday when the Buckeyes host Colorado at Ohio Stadium at 3:30 p.m. — the first home game the Woody Hayes statue will be present for.
“I love the statue,” Maloney said. “The first time I saw it, it kind of scared me. I walked around the corner and was like, ‘Whoa.’ I’m very excited to see it on game days.”
Like her fellow store employees, Maloney has even taken to referring to the statue as if it were Woody himself, saying, “I think he will be a big hit on Saturday.”
On Sept. 4, a statue of Brutus Buckeye that was purchased by the store for $20,000, was vandalized. Store security cameras recorded the statue, which was adorned in an actual OSU Marching Band uniform, having its plumed hat forcibly removed around 2:25 a.m.
Dawes said that while there was no update on the vandalized statue, she is optimistic that the new statue of Hayes won’t be harmed.
“We have (the statue) on security camera,” Dawes said. “We’ve got it down there pretty good. It’s pretty heavy, and there’s no detachable parts, so hopefully everything will stay intact.”
In addition to the Woody Hayes and Brutus statues, the outside walls of the west side of store are painted with OSU football murals. A Block-O is also engraved in stone above the front entrance of the store.
Of all the decorative pieces the store has to offer fans, Dawes said the Woody Hayes statue is her favorite.
“There’s nothing around like it,” she said. “It is a true piece of art, so I think Woody ranks No. 1 right now. There’s only one Woody like ours.”