As I skimmed the Columbus Dispatch this morning, I read that today, August 21, is Archie Griffin's birthday. Hopefully, anyone who reads my blogs needs no introduction or background on the Ohio State University Alumni Association's president/CEO. Special to me, because he always has time to say,"hello," or have his picture taken with a fan. Archie is not one of those former OSU football players who returns to Columbus and plays the "former bigtime football player" game.
I remember watching him on Eastmoor Academy film clips. I had just begun coaching, when he running up and down the field at Eastmoor. Of course, I watched him do his thing running the ball for the Buckeyes. Also, watched him win the Heisman Trophy, not once but twice. But, what I remember most was how Coach Woody Hayes used to call him "Arch." Back then, Woody would always talk to his players on the Woody Hayes Show and answer his own questions. Woody would look at Archie and say, "Is that right, Arch?" Of course, for those of you who remember, Archie would flash the smile and answer, "That's right, Coach."
Over the years, I have met and evaluated two of Archie's sons. Both excellent leaders. Both left everything on the field. Both were very competitive. Both had skills. Both were only 5'9 every other day, which limited them as to what college level that they could play. Neither one was going to win the Heisman Trophy twice, but Archie was always in the stands showing his support. When I would asked him how they were doing, he gave me the "Archie smile."
At a Shaker Heights High School football game in Cleveland years ago, I was there to evaluate Archie's son, an RB for Shaker. As I was sitting in the stands before the game, I noticed Archie was sitting right beside me. He had a cap pulled down as far as he could on his head and was wearing shades. Playing incognito, as I guessed, I leaned over and said, " Archie, how are you doing?" Of course, he smiled and said a few words. Ten minutes later, the PA announcer announced that a special guest was in the stands. Archie just smiled, did not make his location known, and watched the game.
When I evaluate high school players whose mom or dad are somewhat "high profile," I like to find out where the parents are coming from. Their thoughts do not affect what I report in my evaluations to colleges, but I like to know the mindset I am dealing with. Once I asked Archie about his son's speed. I said, "He is a 4.65 guy." Archie quickly reminded me that he was a 4.65 guy in high school. Smiling, I reminded him that that was over thirty years ago. Of course, he smiled.
In a culture where if you played the game, you are an "expert" on sports talk shows or you do not have the time to say," Hello," Archie Griffin is "old school." Being humble is part of his makeup. I realize that his time is valuable. I realize as president/CEO of the large alumni association that he forces smiles once in awhile. I realize that he has won the Hiesman twice. I realize that at times he must get tired of "being on stage." I realize that John McCallister is just a face in the crowd, but Archie always has time to flash a smile and say "Hi," to me.
To quote Coach Woody Hayes, "Happy Birthday, Arch!"