Woody’s quote about bad things and passing out of date

Who said it first?

“Three things can happen when you pass the ball and two of them are bad.”

This quote has been attributed to two legendary college football coaches and it’s not quite clear which one of them really did say it first.

Some people say Ohio State’s Woody Hayes was the originator. Others give the credit to Texas’ Darrell Royal.

Most newspaper and magazine stories in the 1960s identified Royal as the inventor of the adage. But in 2005 before Texas came to Columbus to play Ohio State, Royal told The Columbus Dispatch it actually was something he had borrowed from Hayes.

The fact the quote became popular in the early 1960s could offer an explanation. Texas football was more in the national spotlight for most of that decade than Ohio State was before 1968.

Woody might have said it first but more media people probably heard Royal say it, so he got the credit.

Like 8-track tapes or daytime World Series games, the quote might be on its way to becoming obsolete, though.

When Woody or Royal said it in the 1960s and 1970s, a lot more bad things did happen when quarterbacks threw the ball.

At Ohio State in the late 1970s, Art Schlichter had 50 career touchdown passes and 46 interceptions. A decade before him, Rex Kern’s career totals were 19 touchdown passes and 24 interceptions.

Roger Staubach had 18 career TD passes at Navy and was intercepted 20 times. Terry Hanratty’s career numbers at Notre Dame were 27 touchdown passes and 34 interceptions.

When college football has quarterbacks like OSU’s Dwayne Haskins (30 TD passes, 5 interceptions), Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (25 TD passes, 0 interceptions) and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (28 TD passes, 3 interceptions) lots of good things happen when the ball is in the air.


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