Oct. 12, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. - In the family tree of college football coaching, Randy Hart is a direct descendent of Woody Hayes.
But while Hayes, the legendary Ohio State coach, was known as much for his temper as his winning, Hart brings only the positive aspects of Hayes' legacy to Stanford.
Hart, 62, is in his first season as the Cardinal's defensive line coach, but his 41st season of collegiate coaching. It's a career that began in 1970 at Ohio State, as a graduate assistant under his college coach, Hayes.
"A guy from Ohio can make it in life if he works hard enough," Hayes once said.
That certainly applies to Hart, a Willoughby, Ohio, native. Hart played offensive guard on Ohio State's 1969 national-championship team before beginning his coaching career with the Buckeyes squad that was upset by Jim Plunkett's Stanford Indians in the 1971 Rose Bowl.
What did he take most from Hayes?
"I would hope his work ethic," Hart said. "He taught you how to work, and to be a good person."
The latter may seem surprising, given that Hayes was known for his combustibility, and fisticuffs. It was Hayes' punch to the throat of a Clemson player in the 1978 Gator Bowl that ended his coaching career.
Hart suffered the wrath of Hayes on occasion, but also saw the other side of his coach's personality.
"When you're playing for him, you see that he was totally different," Hart said. "What you read is not who he was. He was tremendously caring."
It's true. Hayes was the first to visit his players in the hospital, and would stay and visit with other patients as well. And Hayes, yes Woody Hayes, would often cry at the slightest hint of sentimentality. That was the side that Hart remembers.
"That's why you play for him," Hart recalled. "The other stuff was incidental."
Hart said he's indebted to Hayes, and his career is a testament to the man. Now, 40 years later, Stanford defensive linemen like Sione Fua, Matt Masifilo, and Brian Bulcke are receiving the lessons from the man who learned from The Man.
"It's a 2½ hour practice and he's coaching for two hours and 30 minutes," Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He's coaching all the time he's on the field.
"The guys have really responded to his coaching and teaching. The technique and fundamentals are showing up through their production in ballgames. I think our players are learning as much as I am from him. It certainly shows on the field."
Hayes was only the first of three College Hall of Fame coaches Hart worked under. There also was Earle Bruce, Hayes' successor at Ohio State. Hart coached under Bruce at University of Tampa, Iowa State, and Ohio State.
Hart's next stop was Washington, where he was hired by another Hall of Famer, Don James, and would stay for 21 seasons, and under three coaching regimes. Hart moved to Notre Dame last season, and sought out Harbaugh after the Irish staff was released after the 2009 season.
"It was a great opportunity to work with Jim," Hart said. "I liked his enthusiasm and his style of football, based on a running game. Not a lot of people are doing it now. Everyone's spreading the field.
"I like the style of the Stanford offense, and it was appealing to be part of. It makes both the offense and the defense better, because you're playing against it every day. It was a no-brainer."
As for himself, Hart bristles at the idea that he was hired to be a mentor.
"If you want me to be the wise old sage, it's not happening," he said. "I just really enjoy coaching. And, if anybody asks, just tell them Randy Hart is the luckiest man you know."
--David Kiefer, Assistant Athletics Communications Director