Woody Hayes’ best Ohio State teams were the ones containing the Super Sophomores. The 1968 Super Sophomore shocked everybody and won the national title by beating top ranked USC and Heisman Trophy winning OJ Simpson. The 1969 version was probably an even better with most of the sophomores now juniors and the 1970 version was also great, but both had disappointing losses.
The 1973 Ohio State Buckeyes were possibly the best team in the country and could have been on the same level as those earlier teams.
One of the reasons that 1973 Buckeye team was so great was a young Archie Griffin, a squadron of very good Fullbacks like Bruce Elia, Pete Johnson and Champ Henson.
Plus, they had a very good 3 yards and a cloud of dust Offensive Line.
Of course there was the defense led by super senior Linebacker Randy Gradishar. Not only was he really responsible for a great defense for the Buckeyes, but he was drafted by the Denver Broncos and Gradishar led their awesome Orange Crush defense for years. Randy Gradishar deserves his own article and I guarantee I will soon get to that.
But, maybe the very best player on the entire 1973 Buckeye team was an Offensive Tackle by the name of John Hicks.
Hicks was so good that he finished in second place in the 1973 Heisman Trophy voting. It may have been a down year for Heisman candidates, but when was the last time an Offensive Lineman placed second in the voting?
1973 Heisman Trophy voting: 1973
Talented sophomore Quarterback, from Washington DC, Cornelius Greene split time with senior Greg Hare that season. The playing time for Greg Hare was probably mostly because Ohio State legendary coach Woody Hayes didn’t quite trust his young Quarterback with protecting the ball.
The Offensive Line led by John Hicks opened holes for Archie Griffin enough that he was able to run for 1,577 yards and he also placed in the Heisman voting. Not only did John Hicks finish second, but Archie Griffin placed 5th and Randy Gradishar finished right behind him at 6th place.
Hicks signed with Ohio State out of Cleveland, Ohio a year after the Super Sophomores. Since freshmen were not eligible back in those days, Hicks was able to start in the Offensive Line in 1970.
Running behind Hicks and his Offensive Line mates were future Green Bay Packer John Brockington and Leo Hayden.
The 1971 Buckeyes lost a lot of talent. The Super Sophomores had used up their eligibility after the 1970 season in a disappointing Rose Bowl loss to Stanford. It was a let down for them that they only won one national title with huge losses to Michigan in 1969 and then to Stanford on January 1st, 1971. They were big favorites in both of those games and they were beaten.
Hicks also was lost for the 1971 season when he went down with a knee injury part way through the season.
John Hicks was an All American in 1972 as the Buckeyes win the Big 10 and win another trip to the Rose Bowl and a match up with the top ranked USC Trojans.
Some people, probably mostly Trojan fans. call the 1972 version of the Men from Troy the greatest team ever and they just stomped all over the Buckeyes. The final score was 42 to 17 in favor of the national champion USC Trojans.
Hicks was back for the 1973 season and it would be a great one for both himself and the Buckeyes. Ohio State finished the season undefeated, but they tied Michigan. On a very controversial decision, the Buckeyes got the honor of defending the Big 10 in the Rose Bowl against USC and they would have their revenge. The bashed the Trojans much like they had been beaten the previous season, 42-
21, and they finished 10-0-1 on the season.
Hicks won the Outland and Lombardi Trophies that season and the Buckeyes just might have been the best team in the country. They were only denied because of the tie with Michigan.
The New York Football Giants drafted Hicks with their first pick of the 1974 draft at number 3.
However, he only played for them for 4 years as he continued to struggle with his knee injuries. The Giants traded him after 4 seasons to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he never played for them because of his knees.
John Hicks played Offensive Guard in the NFL after playing Right Tackle at Ohio State. If not for bad knees, Hicks probably would have had a long and successful career in the NFL. Instead, he only played 4 years.
After football, Hicks started the very successful John Hicks Company which is involved in commercial real estate.
John Hicks is the last Offensive Lineman to finish runner up in the Heisman voting. He was a dominating Right Tackle making All American twice and doing so with bad knees.
Unfortunately, Hicks passed away last October at the way too young age of 65.