Alum lives his football dream
After discovering Ohio State football and Coach Woody Hayes in the early 1960s when he was just five years old, Bob Hyatt dreamed of only one thing. All he wanted to do was play football at Ohio State for Woody.
Hyatt recently submitted his story on the But for Ohio State website...
"This kid grows up thinking about his dream every day and practicing very hard to become worthy of wearing the Scarlet and Gray. But alas, even though he was All-Ohio, he was not recruited by the mighty Buckeyes because he was not fast enough (4.6 in the 40), not big enough (5’ 9”, 170 pounds) and only played in the single A division of high school ball."
Hyatt was so determined to play in the Shoe that he turned down offers from Ivy League schools, Mid-American Conference schools and Ohio Conference schools, and enrolled at The Ohio State University. He majored in civil engineering, his second career choice, at the urging of his father.
“When I was about a sophomore in high school my dad asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to be a football coach. He said, ‘what’s your second choice?’” Hyatt explained with a laugh. “I said engineering and he said, ‘that’s better.’”
Hyatt moved to campus in 1973 from LaGrange, a small town in northeast Ohio. He made the Ohio State football team as a walk-on, earning the right to wear number 35. It was the same number as his parents’ address on Lane Avenue when his father attended the university.
"He endured a brutal first season where he ran tailback on the scout team against a defense that only gave up 64 points all season. Every day he got beat up…but he got to spend every one of those days with his boyhood idol, Coach Woody Hayes.
Balancing football with his engineering classes was another challenge, one that required 17-hour days filled with classes, practice, training meetings and lots of studying."
“It was a good thing the College of Engineering was in close proximity to the stadium,” Hyatt said. “I would literally get out of a class and run to the stadium. One of the managers would have my uniform there, and I would change in the men’s restroom and jump out onto the practice field.”
Despite his full schedule, Hyatt was one of the few players not to miss a practice all season. His dedication paid off when Coach Hayes awarded him a full athletic scholarship. It arrived just in time, as Hyatt had exhausted his entire $700 savings on the first quarter of school and his dad made only $14,000 a year as a vocational agriculture teacher.
“I remember it vividly, January 3, 1974,” said Hyatt. “I walked out of the assistant athletic director’s office and went to the pay phone and reversed the charges to my father. I told him, ‘Woody just gave me a full ride,’ and we both cried. Being a lifelong dream, it was a very big moment in our lives.”
After achieving scholarship athlete status, Hyatt was invited to move into the athletic dormitory, but he chose to remain with his peers in the engineering learning community at Houck House.
“One of my favorite memories was deciding to stay with the engineering students during my freshmen and sophomore years,” he said. “We developed a good camaraderie and supported each other with schoolwork, and of course we had a lot of mutual interests. To this day I still have those friendships.”
"So the kid from this small town in Ohio meets some great friends, does pretty well in school, and gets to play enough football to letter his sophomore and junior years. His senior season, 1976, is a fairy tale. This small, slow wingback drops his 40 time to 4.5 seconds, gains 15 pounds and gets to play regularly now that Brian Bashnagel has moved on to the Chicago Bears. He makes a few runs, catches a pass or two, holds placement for the All-American kicker, Tom Skladany, and magically scores the winning touchdown against Joe Paterno and Penn State on an early September Saturday in State College."
After a fairytale ending to his football career and graduation, Hyatt moved to Texas and began working in the specialty chemical business. He eventually became a technical sales leader for oilfield service and product supplier Baker Hughes, marketing a variety of chemicals, like drag reducers. Working with these long-chain polymers that are injected into liquid oil pipelines to reduce hydraulic friction loss would lead Hyatt down the path to entrepreneurship.
Hyatt launched Pipe Line Unique Services (PLUS) in 2004 with his brother, Bill. Their company supplies pipeline companies worldwide with patented equipment that injects drag reducer agent into pipelines. The company has two production locations, in Houston, Texas, and Elyria, Ohio, each conveniently located near one of the brothers. The locations are also central to the two main nationwide concentrations of cross country pipelines.
“The most rewarding part was I was able to create a company where I could employ all of my children,” he said. “That was something my wife, Stephanie, and I planned from the beginning, so they wouldn’t take all of our grandkids and move away.”
From the gridiron to the boardroom, Hyatt attributes his success to the lessons Woody instilled. One such lesson was the story Woody told about Jim Parker, an All-American offensive tackle who played for Hayes in 1954-1956 and then in the NFL for the Baltimore Colts.
“After every practice Jim Parker would be the last one to get on the bus. He would walk all the way up to the steps of the bus, then turn around, go back and hit the blocking dummy ten more times,” said Hyatt. “The point Woody made was that ordinary people just do what is expected of them. It’s the extraordinary people, the people who become All-Americans, who go that extra mile to be who they are.”
The importance of hard work is one Hyatt continues to apply to his business life.
“When the day is done and I am ready to go, I always make the effort to make one last phone call, schedule one more meeting or do one more task,” he said. “It serves me well.”
That same work ethic is a big reason why Hyatt got to live his dream to play football for Woody Hayes.
"That’s why this story is important, because it defines the Ohio State we all love but may not know exactly why we love it…The traditions and spirit that Ohio State provides is something that anyone can be proud of, and that loyalty lasts a lifetime."
Share your own But For Ohio State story at www.osu.edu/butforohiostate.
By Candi Clevenger, College of Engineering Communications