Shortly after Ohio State basketball coach Floyd Stahl resigned on April 23, 1958, the athletic council and its five-man selection committee began to search for a suitable replacement. Among the early contenders were three of Ohio’s top high school coaches – Paul Walker of Middletown, Bup Rearick of Canton McKinley and Warren Scholler of Hamilton.
A Times Recorder article dated May 3, 1958 listed more applicants: “The latest nominations were from Bob Burkholder, former Ohio State star and now coach at Muskingum College; Bill Bertka, head coach at Kent State University; John Sines, assistant coach in Tennessee; and Ronald Feieresel and Dwight Morrison, both of the Depaul Institute in Seattle, Washington. Athletic director Richard Larkins said he also received letters of recommendation for Northwestern coach Bill Rohr and Wayne Ashbaugh of Zanesville High School.
Another candidate was Fred Taylor, OSU’s first-year basketball coach from Zanesville. Taylor impressed the selection committee by securing the hiring of the nation’s number one basketball player, Jerry Lucas. The TR reported the following on May 6, 1958: “Towering Jerry Lucas of Middletown, Ohio, considered the nation’s No.1 college basketball player, said on Monday he would enter Ohio State University l next fall … Lucas, 6 feet, 9 ½ inch center (he was actually 6’8 “), scored 2,460 points in his three-year career. He said he chose Ohio State after playing. turned down over 100 other offers.
Finally, on June 7, the TR announced the Ohio State pick: “Fred Taylor, 33, from Zanesville and former Ohio State basketball and baseball star, has been named head coach. basketball at his alma mater yesterday. He is the son of J. Fred Taylor of 639 Brown Street. The salary of the new coach will be $ 8,664 per year. (Wow, wages have definitely changed.)
Taylor, a Zanesville High School graduate, was a 6-foot-4 forward on the last Ohio State Big Ten championship team under Tippy Dye in 1950. He was also the regular center for the 1948 and 1949 Buckeye basketball teams. He played baseball at Ohio State for four years (1947-1950) and was named to the All-American varsity baseball team as a first baseman.
The new head coach had the support of his players: “Taylor admitted that he was deeply moved by the OSU players voluntarily writing a letter to the Athletics Council on his behalf. These same boys all came to his office yesterday to congratulate him. “
Taylor then served as Ohio State’s head basketball coach from 1958 to 1976, compiling a record of 297-158. His teams have won or shared seven Big Ten titles and have twice finished second in the NCAA tournament.
In his second year only as a head coach, Taylor won the National Championship by beating defending California Champion: Championship. Led by All-American Jerry Lucas, who completely bottled California great Darrell Imhoff, underdog champions Big Ten took a 37-19 lead at halftime, then played a game in slow motion to win in leaving. (TR, 03/20/1960.)
All five starters scored in double digits, led by Lucas 16. Mel Nowell had 15 points, Larry Siegfried scored 13, future NBA great John Havlicek scored 12 and senior Joe Roberts added 10. In the middle. time, the Buckeyes had reached a phenomenal 84.2% from the field and finished the game with an excellent shooting percentage of 67.4%. California, on the other hand, was held at a dismal 33.9%.
While all of the sophomores on this star-studded team were fabulous high school goal scorers, Coach Taylor reportedly said shortly after arriving on campus, “They couldn’t keep Marilyn Monroe in a phone booth.” However, in the 1960 championship game, they showed great defensive intensity and teamwork.
In a post-match interview, Taylor said: “It was a wonderful effort. We always thought we could play defense and we did. We have a reputation for running but we didn’t. to run. We can play defense. (TR, 21-3-1960.)
According to the Times Recorder (3-21-1960): “The minute the final buzzer sounded, the Buckeyes went wild. Big Jerry Lucas and Larry Siegfried cut the net from the basket and draped it over Taylor’s head. This scene (or shortly after) is depicted by a statue of Taylor located near Zanesville Middle School on Blue Avenue.
After facing serious health problems for several years, Taylor passed away at the age of 77 on January 6, 2002. He is buried in the Union Cemetery in Columbus, the same cemetery in which the legendary trainer rests. Ohio State Footballer Wayne Woodrow “Woody” Hayes.
Lewis LeMaster is a retired teacher from the Zanesville area.