CRIDERSVILLE – For most of his life, former Ohio State football head coach Earle Bruce has displayed an insatiable passion for football.
However, the 82-year-old Bruce does find time for other interests.
On Thursday, Bruce made a stop at the Bowsher Log House Museum in Cridersville to join John Carnes, the curator of the Allen County Museum, to talk about the American Civil War. The event was part of the Rally ‘Round the Cabin Series, sponsored by the Historical Society and the Cridersville Healthcare Center.
“I taught history in school,” Bruce said. “I took it in school and really loved it. The Civil War is a great period to teach and to read about.”
Along with his interest in football and history, Bruce also puts time into the health care field.
“I do some things in Alzheimer’s research around the state,” Bruce said. “I help raise money for it. I want to help people. I did own a home health care business at one time. My dad had Alzheimer’s and we had to get home health care for both my mother and dad.”
Bruce has been a Buckeye for most of his life. He played fullback on the OSU freshman team in 1950 and suffered a knee injury before his sophomore season, which cut his playing career short.
However, after getting injured, the legendary OSU coach Woody Hayes gave Bruce a position on the staff, until he graduated in 1953.
The experience he gained in those four years under Hayes help catapult his coaching career as he went on to become an assistant coach at Mansfield Senior following graduation.
Then in 1956, Bruce was hired as the head coach at Salem High School and his coaching career took off from there.
After going 28-9 at Salem and then 34-3-3 at Sandusky, Bruce moved on to Massillon where he had back-to-back undefeated seasons (1964-65), en route to two consecutive state poll championships.
In 1966, Hayes hired Bruce as an assistant at OSU. Then in 1972, Bruce landed his first head-coaching job when he took over the University of Tampa program for one season.
Bruce had a coaching stint at Iowa State (1973-78), before returning to Columbus in 1979 to take over the OSU program after Hayes was let go by the school. Bruce coached the Buckeyes from 1979-1987, winning four Big Ten titles.
Bruce finished his college coaching career at the University of Northern Iowa in 1988 and Colorado State University (1989-1992). He compiled a college coaching career-record of 154-90-2.
Bruce was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2002. He did return to coaching in 2003, however, as he guided the Iowa Barnstormers and then the Columbus Destroyers the following year, both in the Arena Football League.
Bruce, who still resides in Columbus, is still involved with the OSU football program. OSU coach Urban Meyer gives Bruce access to the program.
“Urban gave John Cooper (OSU head coach, 1988-2000) and me an office,” Bruce said. “So, we have some place to go to look at films or do whatever we want. We’re invited to go to meetings and whatever we want to do. And we can go to practice – that’s pretty nice.”
After a perfect 12-0 season in Meyer’s first year at the helm in 2012, Bruce is very excited about the upcoming campaign for the Buckeyes.
“I can’t wait for this season,” Bruce said. “I think we have good talent at the quarterback and running back positions. I think our wide receivers will be good. Our offensive line will be good. We have a young defensive line, but it’s talented and I think they’re coming along. The linebackers are a little more experienced and the defensive backs are about the same. So, overall, I guess the real crux of it is, if our special teams get healed well and if our punter and kicker do well.”
Bruce said he likes the way Meyer runs the program. Meyer started his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Bruce and Ohio State and coached with him at Colorado State.
“He’s a great recruiter and a great teacher,” he said. “He disciplines very hard. You never have a question of what is right or wrong.”
Bruce also keeps busy, making radio appearances around Columbus, talking OSU football.
Bruce said he cherished the days he spent on the sidelines, coaching his beloved Buckeyes before sold-out crowds.
“I never really thought about the pressures,” Bruce said. “You do your job, that’s all; and you keep doing it. I love coaching and I love Ohio State. So, it was a natural.”