Buckeye Nation lost an important member of our Buckeye family today.
Earle Bruce passed away Friday morning at the age of 87.
His daughters, Lynn Michele, Aimee and Noel released a statement early Friday morning on the passing of their father.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, Coach Earle Bruce, early this morning, Friday, April 20. He was a great man, a wonderful husband, father and grandfather, and a respected coach to many. Our family will miss him dearly, but we take solace in the belief that he is in a better place and reunited with his beloved wife, Jean. We thank you for your prayers and good wishes.”
Earle was an Ohio coach through and through as he started out in coaching at the high school level at schools all throughout the state (Mansfield, Salem, Sandusky, Massillon) from 1953 to 1965.
Bruce was first introduced at Ohio State as an assistant coach serving under the legendary Woody Hayes from 1966 to 1971, where he was instrumental in the historic 1968 national championship team.
Bruce left the Buckeyes in 1972 for his first collegiate head coaching job at Tampa followed by Iowa State from 1973 to 1978.
Bruce would return to Columbus, Ohio in 1979 as the new head coach of the Buckeyes after Woody Hayes was let go after the 1978 season, stemming from the all-too-famous punch heard around college football.
Bruce would lead the Buckeyes to 81 wins and four Big Ten titles in nine seasons as Ohio State’s head coach.
Earle Bruce had many prominent coaching names serve under him at Ohio State, including former Ohio State national champion head coach Jim Tressel, six-time national champion and Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio, and Super Bowl-winning Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.
Even Bruce’s grandson, Zach Smith, is the current wide receivers coach for the Buckeyes.
Bruce even gave Ohio State’s current head coach his first coaching gig in college football.
That’s right. Urban Meyer got his first-ever coaching job in college football as a graduate assistant under Bruce in 1986 and 1987.
“I’ve made it clear many times that, other than my father, Coach Bruce was the most influential man in my life,” said Meyer. “Every significant decision I’ve made growing up in this profession was with him involved in it. His wife [Jean] and he were the role models for Shelley and me. They did everything with class. He was not afraid to show how much he loved his family and cared for his family.”
Earle Bruce holds a special place in my heart and all of us here at EBSN as well as he is the whole reason any of us are here. Before EBSN was the Everything Buckeye Sports Network, it was the Earle Bruce Sports Network.
Founded by Bruce in 2013, it originally started out as the Earle Bruce Show before before growing into the EB Sports Network in 2014, EB standing for Earle Bruce. Earle founded the network for the purpose of having former peers and players on his show to discuss Ohio State football, most of the original shows were taped right at Bruce’s kitchen table.
In 2014, they started recording their shows in front of live audiences by doing shows at Giant Eagle and Eddie George’s Grille 27.
Bruce had to step away from the network in 2016 after suffering a stroke, which left him unable to do the shows anymore.
Bruce left the network in the hands of his close friends and it has now grown to what it is today, where we get to bring you live shows and coverage of sports all across this great state of Ohio.
I would not have a job today if it wasn’t for Earle Bruce.
When I started out as an intern at this network two years ago before I became the lead writer and editor here, I would work on the live shows at Eddie George’s restaurant. Earle Bruce would occasionally drop by to watch the shows when his health was good enough to do so. He would always give me a warm smile and ask me how I was doing.
As a young student just getting my foot in the door of this industry, that meant the world to me. As far as I was aware, I was a complete stranger to him but he always made me feel like I mattered to him, that THE Earle Bruce actually knew me.
That’s the kind of man that Earle Bruce was. He may have been aggressive and in your face on the football field, but off the field he was the nicest guy you would ever meet.
Rest In Peace to a man who truly embodied what it means to be a Buckeye and what Ohio State should represent, Earle Bruce.