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November 1, 2012

Time and Change - Paul Warfield

Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

In this installment of Time and Change I had the opportunity to visit with one of the all-time great Buckeyes, halfback/receiver Paul Warfield. He may not be as well known of a name by the younger generations but his body of work speaks for itself and is another great example of a Buckeye having success both on and off the field of play in his life.

Warfield played halfback for the Buckeyes from 1960-63 and then moved on to a great career with the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. While playing in the NFL, Warfield was named All-Pro six times, played in three Super Bowls, eight Pro Bowls and was the starting wide receiver for the only undefeated team in National Football League history, the 1976 Miami Dolphins.

Throughout my conversations with former Buckeyes in the Time and Change series I have asked each player their opinions on elements that have changed within Ohio State football and NCAA Athletics in general. Warfield was quick to point out that he feels that the commercialization of the sport has been one of the biggest changes from the days he played to the present day.

"When I played, we didn't have ESPN, the Big Ten (Network), games on the internet, games on all national television channels, texting or Facebook," Warfield said. "There were only 11 bowl games a year, (far from) the 35 that they have today and teams were not paid anywhere near the sums of money that they receive today. "Teams now make between 14-18 million dollars for appearing in a BCS bowl game, not to mention the additional millions earned with television contracts, apparel contracts and consumer product sponsorships."

The business of football when it comes to a network level and a 'dollars and cents' level is very different today with the popularity and profitability of the sport. Warfield continued to note how one of his favorite playing moments in Columbus turned into one of his most frustrating moments.

"One of the proudest moments I had as a Buckeye was when we won the 1961 Big Ten Championship," Warfield said. "We had worked so hard, going undefeated and we beat Michigan 50-20 in Ann Arbor.

"It was also one of my biggest disappointments as the Ohio State board of trustees voted that football was infringing on our educational experience and then declined our invitation to participate in the 1962 Rose Bowl. That would never happen today, never!"

Minnesota went on to represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl, where it defeated UCLA 21-3. Despite not being able to compete in the Rose Bowl, Ohio State was still recognized as a National Champion by one of the polls, the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America), giving the Buckeyes a share of the title.

Warfield has almost two decades of football to draw upon between college and pro ball and plenty of highlights through his career to draw upon but two memories overshadow the rest: Being a member of the 1976 Undefeated Miami Dolphins and the 50th anniversary and reunion of the Ohio State 1961 National Championship team.

"Walking out on that field again, in that awesome stadium, in front of 105,000 fans for the Wisconsin game was just incredible," Warfield said. "The hair went up on the back of my neck; I got a tear in my eye and chills down my spine. It reminded me what a great institution The Ohio State University is and what a great experience it was to be an Ohio State Buckeye."

As a reminder to Buckeye fans, there were some very special people that Warfield had as teammates and coaches of that 1961 team. Some of the most notable are as follows: Bob Ferguson - Fullback (Minnesota Vikings), Gary Moeller- Linebacker/Center Head Coach (University of Michigan), Matt Snell - Halfback (New York Jets), Bob Vogel - Tackle (Baltimore Colts), John Havlicek - Wide Receiver (Cleveland Browns, Boston Celtics and member of the NBA Hall of Fame), Bo Schembechler - Assistant Coach (Head Coach at the University of Michigan) and the one and only Woody Hayes as the head coach.

"It was an awesome group of people," Warfield said. "But most of all, I wish Woody could have been there. He was like a father to me. Yes he was tough, but he taught me the importance of education, character, discipline, hard work, integrity and honesty. He made me who I am today. I will never forget him slapping me on the back and how happy he was when I received my master's degree in 1977. Woody was all about the educational experience. My experiences at Ohio State were the greatest of my life and it is truly great to be an Ohio State Buckeye."

Certainly, as Paul Warfield described, commercialization and proliferation of the media have been big changes within college football. I am constantly amazed and truly gratified as I write these Time and Change offerings, that time and time again, the one thing that has not changed is the lifetime experience, the bond and camaraderie that all former Buckeyes truly treasure.



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