‘Be authentic, be honest’
Dick Brubaker recalls the lasting influence of Woody Hayes’ disdain for hypocrisy.
Dick Brubaker takes a straightforward approach to his law practice: “I don’t want any client of mine to ever be disappointed in having retained me. That is my primary focus. And the best way for them not to be disappointed is to always do my best.”
It’s a mindset Brubaker developed as a co-captain of the team that won the 1954 national title, the second ever for Ohio State and the first for the late head coach Woody Hayes.
“It was an experience that was invaluable to me, though I don’t go wearing it on my back,” said Brubaker, now 84, who continues to work daily in his estate and trust law practice. He takes pride in helping people make some of the most important financial decisions of their lives.
If modesty comes easily to Brubaker, so do the guts and hard work that helped lead Ohio State to a 10–0 season, including a 20–7 win over USC in the Rose Bowl. Buckeye running back Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, who the following season won the Heisman Trophy, ran for 92 yards in the mud. Brubaker went on to play two years for the National Football League’s Chicago Cardinals and one year for the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League.
Brubaker was an offensive end for Ohio Wesleyan University, where he played two seasons, when he decided to see whether he could play big-time football. He persuaded Hayes to give him a try as a walk-on wide receiver. He made first team partway through the 1953 season, and his teammates elected him co-captain for the 1954 campaign.
“It blew me away, absolutely blew me away,” he said. “Being an introvert, I don’t know how it happened.”
The experience turned him into the kind of player who didn’t want to disappoint his teammates.
“I suddenly realized, ‘I have to be a leader. I can’t just sit there with my thumb in my ear. I have to set an example.’ You want to be a leader; you want to be encouraging.”
Hayes’ influence — constantly stressing honesty, how to treat others, what’s important in life — helped Brubaker form leadership skills.
“He couldn’t stand hypocrisy,” Brubaker recalled. “That was a valuable lesson I learned. Be authentic, be honest.”
Brubaker has found that the pride attached to being a national champion never quite leaves you.
“I have a tad of smugness about me because I was a co-captain of a national championship team,” said Brubaker, who doesn’t sound smug saying it. “It gives you a hell of a lot of confidence.”
Brubaker also described the national title as “the gift that keeps on giving.” There’s often someone who wants to reminisce about that season, and there are lifelong friendships among some of the teammates.
Those include one between Brubaker and Tad Weed, the kicker on the national title team. Because of his friendship with Weed, Brubaker once had a beer with Ernest Hemingway in Cuba.
No disappointment in that.
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