Woody Hayes. Ohio State University. Listen up from heaven. You’re being honored this morning on the streets of Cuenca, Ecador, about ten yards and a cloud of dust across the New Cathedral on Calle Sucre.
“Three yards and a cloud of dust.” Your famous quote comes quickly to mind as a neatly-dressed, middle-aged Cuencano weakly belts out Frank Sinatra and tunes of other American singers, backed up by his small, black keraoke box.
Frank Not-So-Hoststra, as my dad would say
Most people don’t drop a dime into the hard-working man’s plastic cup that he holds in his non-microphone hand. But I do — at least once every two weeks or so, when I’m on my way to having lunch at Don Colon’s restaurant, a block away from the flower market. The street singer is halfway to my intended destination.
See, the guy has guts and perseverance, something my dad wanted to make sure that all three of his girls acquired. Sure, he’d wanted a boy and never got one. But he took his girls to football games at Oregon State, and talked to us about giving the old college try and how working at something is more important than relying on talent. Trying your damnedest is what’s most important, he’d say. We never left until the game was over. It paid off, too, when Terry Baker was the star quarterback.
Of course my dad liked Hayes because Woody believed in gutting it out. So I know that you, Woody, would have appreciated this street singer. He comes to work day after day. Sings in good weather. Sings when it rains. He doesn’t have much talent but he sure gives it the old college try. This, he does, in a developing country where jobs are few and opportunities rare for a person who does not come from wealth.
Three verses of Sinatra, and a cloud of dust! Or guts? That’s what this singer relies on. And some times, it works! Like today, when I passed by and stopped to listen for as long as I could stand it, before dropping a fifty-cent piece into his cup.
If you don’t know: Hayes’s Buckeye squads often faced off in a fierce rivalry against the Michigan Wolverines coached by Bo Schembechler, a former player under and assistant coach to Hayes. That stretch in the Michigan–Ohio State football rivalry, dubbed “The Ten Year War,” saw Hayes and Schembechler’s teams win or share the Big Ten Conference crown every season and usually each place in the national rankings.
Hayes was famous for his three yards and a cloud of dust philosophy for offense. Writes football expert, John Paul, Hayes’ idea was that when you passed the ball three things could happen, and only one of them was positive for your team. “The pass would be incomplete, it would be intercepted, or your player would catch it and advance the ball. This 33% chance of success was not one that Coach Hayes wanted to bank on, and as a result he broke down the yards needed for a first down (10) and developed the idea that each time the ball is snapped you only need to advance three yards.”