Woody Hayes showed up at Mark Stier's
high school football banquet in 1964 and unexpectedly offered him a scholarship.
"I think my words back to him were, 'I'm not sure I'm good enough,' " Stier recalls.
knocked ball carriers senseless as a Louisville linebacker.
also played offensive line and helped keep tacklers off Notre Dame-bound Bob Gladieux.
But Ohio State?
The Big Ten?
Saturdays in The Horseshoe?
"It's a little different than playing Leetonia on a Friday night with 1,500 people there," Stier
It turns out Stier
was good enough.
He'll be inducted into the Stark County High School Football Hall of Fame
on July 17 at Skyland Pines.
FOND MEMORIES Beating the O.J. Simpson-led Southern Cal Trojans in the 1969 Rose Bowl might be the bullet point in his
career that garners the most attention.
looks at his
high school days with equal fondness.
"Those were some great years for me personally," a now 62-year-old Stier
"I'm just thrilled to have that and be included (in the Hall of Fame).
Goodness sakes, Stark County football is legendary.
It's some of the best of the best, so it's a great honor.
These days, Stier
delivers the Word.
He's executive minister at Westerville Christian Church.
playing days, Stier
"Just a vicious tackler," described Starkey, a member of the 2004 Hall of Fame class.
would get to the ball, and he'd stop them.
Stier's rough-and-tumble style was at the center of a Louisville defense that allowed double-figure points just twice in three years and pitched 16 shutouts.
"I truly enjoyed defense," he
"It probably fit my personality.
I'm kind of (a Type) A personality, an intense kind of guy.
Defense was always one of those things that if you tried harder you did better.
Offense, that wasn't always the case because you needed to be kind of calm, cool and collected.
But on defense, you could kind of let your hair down and fly around and hit people.
'RUN IT AGAIN' Dick Kuhn, two years Stier
's junior, followed Stier from Louisville to Ohio State
He'd later call him brother-in-law when Stier
married Kuhn's sister, Pat.
As a scout team tight end his
freshman year at OSU
, Kuhn had to run a delay route over the middle in practice.
This was Stier's responsibility.
jumped on a different route and Kuhn hauled in a 23-yard pass.
lays me out flat," said Kuhn, who would go on to start at left guard for the 1970 Buckeyes.
I don't think they got it.' "Kuhn got it - again - from Stier
could hit you," Kuhn said.
AT LOUISVILLE More than plays and scores, Stier
remembers the funny instances of irony that made his
Louisville days special.
remembers the rubber chicken that was tossed on the practice field from a passing Piper Cub plane before the Minerva game his
The taunt, supposedly by a Minerva fan, boiled the Leopards' blood.
"Truth be known, it was probably our booster president," Stier
said with a laugh.
e remembers the way he
teammates threatened to quit as freshmen after the first practices of preseason two-a-days, then threatened again after the second practices and then showed up again each morning.
e remembers what he
described as a 25-foot papier-mâché Hoover Viking mascot during the North Canton game in 1962.
Louisville head coach Hap Lillick issued a warning before the game.
" 'Whatever you boys do, don't go over and destroy the Viking,' " Stier
"Well, that's like telling a fourth-grader, 'I just made chocolate chip cookies, but don't you dare eat them.' Of course, the game is over, we win and it's like a magnet.
Somebody tackled it, and the thing gets destroyed."A minor fuss ensued between the schools.
Lillick played his
part and denounced the act.
After the season, Stier
recalled going to Lillick's house.
After the season, Stier
was ready to choose between the Naval Academy
and Kent State when Hayes swept in with the offer.
eventually persuaded Stier
parents that OSU
was the right choice, but that didn't necessarily put Stier
was No. 32 of 32 possible scholarships.
"What does that tell you?
ver time, Stier
settled in and realized he
could compete with anybody.
hen the Buckeyes went with a youth movement, Stier found himself starting at linebacker as a sophomore.
A difficult growing process began.
went 4-5 in 1966 and 6-3 in 1967.
Bolstered by a sophomore class that included the likes of Rex Kern, Jack Tatum and Jim Stillwagon, the 1968 Buckeyes anticipated a big season."We thought there was great potential, but that remained to be seen," Stier
"How are these guys going to do under fire?
So my job as a senior captain, senior linebacker was to keep a lid on this thing.
A 13-0 win over No. 1-ranked Purdue
in Week 3 opened eyes.
A 50-14 drubbing of Michigan in the regular-season finale sent the Buckeyes to Pasadena to face The Juice and the Trojans."It's rags to riches.
It's whatever you want to call it," Stier