2 p.m., WJLA-TV-7, Alabama (10-1) vs. Ohio State (9-2)
Take away the head coaches, Woody Hayes and Paul (Bear) Bryant, and all that is left to recomend Monday's 44th Sugar Bowl is a game between two enormously talented, balanced, evenly-matched teams: Eighth-ranked Ohio State (9.2), the Big Ten runner-up, and third ranked Alabama (10.1), the Southeastern Conference champion.
Add the irascible Hayes and the wily Bryant, your basic coaching legend in a sporty chapeau, and you have a spectacular football occasion to begin the New Year.
Mondays battle before 75,000 spectactors in the Superdome (WJLA-TV 7, 2 p.m.) will be the first meeting ever between these perennial powers, and the first between the two winningest active coaches in college football.
Hayes and Bryant are both 64 years old, but show no signs of creeping old age. Between them, they have 65 years of head coaching experience, 503 victories, and enough memorable moments to make visions of sugar plums dance in their heads.
Bryant is completing his second decade at Alabama, where he was the "other end" on a team that included all-time pass catching great Don Hutson, complied a 23-3-2 record, and buried Stanford in the 1934 Rose Bowl. His coaching record with the Crimson Tide is 181.35-8.
In 33 years as head coach at Maryland (1945), Kentucky (1946-53), Texas A&M (1954-57), and Alabama, the Bear has an oveall record of 272.76-16. Only two other coaches, the late Amos Alonzo Stagg and Pop Warner, accumulated more victories.
Bryant has publicly set his sights on Stagg's milestone of 314 triumphs, achieved in a 57 year career.He needs 42 more victories to tie, 43 to become the alltime winningest college coach, and says he expects to stay at Alabama "at least four more seasons" to make his run for the record.
Hayes, meanwhile, is 198-56-9 since coming to Ohio State in 1951. Including three years (1946-48) at Denison, his alma mater, two at Miami of Ohio (1949-50), and 27 at Ohio State, his overall record is 231-67-9. He is fourth on the all-time victories list.
Bryant is fourth among active coaches in winning percentage (.769), and Hayes is fifth (.767).
Bryant has taken Alabama to bowl games a record 19 consecutive years. This is the Crimson Tide's 31st bowl appearance, also a national record.
Alabama, a slight 1 1/2-point favorite, still has an outside chance for the national championship. Bryant producted undisputed national titles in 1961 and 1964, co-championships in 1965 (with Michigan State) and 1973 with (Notre Dame). His coaching record in postseason competition is 10-11-2.
Hayes, who won the national championship in 1968 (one of his two undefeated seasons), is 5-4 is bowl games. His Buckeye teams have split eight appearances in the Rose Bowl and beat Colorado in the Orange Bowl last New Year's day, Ohio State's first bowl appearance outside Pasadena.
While Hayes and Bryant insist that this fascinating Sugar Bowl wilbe a contest of rushing and passing, blocking and tackling, more than of coaches matching wits and strategy, the public still sees it as "the Woody and Bear show," few coaches have put more of a personal stamp on their programs.
Wayne Woodrow Hayes, stocky and belligerent, is Mr. Ohio State Football. When a book was written about him, it was entitled simply "Buckeye." A keen student of military history and unabashed admirer of celebrated generals, he thinks of the gridiron as a battlefield and himself as the commander-in-chief of embattled troops in cleats.
Though he suffered a heart attack in 1974, Hayes has lost none of his combativenessor tendency to errupt his spontaneous combustion.
Pacing the sidelines in his ever-present red windbreaker and baseball cap, he is the most explosive and demonstrative of coaches. He is currently on probation as a result of striking an ABC-TV cameraman in the closing minuts of the frustrating loss to Michigan that cost Ohio Stte this year's Big 10 title. At the 1970 Rose BowL, he pushed a still photographer's camera in his face in a moment of uncontrolled ire.
Bryant has mellowed more over the years. He is no longer Bear-like but remains the epitome of coaching authority.
It is impossible to think of college football, or at least the southeastern Conference, without conjuring up an image of this craggy man in his checked sportcoat and hat. His role in the Alabama program was recently characterized as more "chairman of the board" than chief operating officer, but there is no question that the Crimson Tide's football dormitory is still "the Bear Bryant Hilton," and he is the proprieter.
Over the years, Hayes and Bryant have favored quick, sturdy defenses and the offensive philosophy that if the football was meant to move through the air instead of on the ground. God would have fashioned it from feathers rather than a pigskin.
This year Alabama averaged 31 points a game, one more than Ohio State, which finished the regular season ranked second nationally in rushing with a 321-yard average. The Crimson Tide was ninth with an average of 297 yards on the ground.
Alabama has the more potent passing attack from its wishbone formation than Ohio State does from its pro-I Junior quarterback Jeff Rutledge has 1,518 yards in total offense and a formidable target in All America split end Ozzie Newsome, considered by many the best receiver in Alabama history.