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Old 04-20-18, 01:10 PM
DB135 DB135 is offline
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Lightbulb Earle Bruce Obituary


Remembering Earle Bruce
'Heaven just got a little more intense'

Doug Lesmerises

Columbus — The friends and football proteges who celebrated Earle Bruce's life in a ceremony on Ohio State's campus Wednesday remembered the heart and humor of the Buckeyes' football coach.

They also recalled Bruce's finger, and the way he would jab it in your chest to make a point, all the while pointing the way as a figure who loomed large in the lives of the football family that gathered at St. John Arena to say goodbye.

''Heaven just got a little more intense,'' said head coach Urban Meyer, Wednesday's final speaker.

About 400 fans, coaches and former players sat in the old basketball arena (where Bruce spent hours in an office watching football film decades ago) to hear speakers honor the nine-year OSU head coach who died Friday at age 87.

Long-time Columbus TV broadcaster Dom Tiberi oversaw the ceremony and introduced a speaker lineup of former head coach Jim Tressel, who served as an assistant under Bruce for three years; current running backs coach Tony Alford, who played for Bruce at Colorado State; Columbus sports radio voice Matt McCoy, who worked with Bruce for two decades after the former coach transitioned to media; receivers coach Zach Smith, who is one of Bruce's nine grandchildren; and Meyer, who considered Bruce his most important mentor besides his father.

''He was a very intimidating coach,'' Meyer said with a smile, ''because he was never wrong. And he was wrong, he was still never wrong.''

With Bruce's four daughters sitting in the front row of folding chairs on the basketball floor, and Bruce's casket draped in an Ohio State flag, Smith provided the most personal touch as a grandson who loved him both as a coach and a grandfather.
''To all of Buckeye Nation, my family thanks you,'' Smith said, ''for the love and passion my family has been fortunate enough to enjoy our entire lives. And for loving my grandfather as much as he loved you.''

William White, a captain on Bruce's final OSU team in 1987, gave a prayer before Tressel took the stage as the first speaker and treated Bruce's life like a football coach going back over a game. Tressel said Bruce's video is all about love affairs with the people in his life and with the places where he coached football.

''You go back and watch the film,'' Tressel said, ''and wherever he was he created a special love affair.''

Alford, an Ohio native, remembered the call he got when, while coaching at Notre Dame, he was offered a job at Ohio State by Meyer. His phone rang after the offer. It was Bruce, wondering what he was doing.

It was like a finger reaching through the phone, right into Alford's chest.

''Do you understand me? It's time to come home,'' Bruce told Alford. ''OK, I'll see you Monday.''
Alford's wife, also listening on speaker phone, looked at Alford and said, ''I guess we're moving.''

They were.

Bruce's advice was never embellished. And he didn't ask if you wanted it or not.

McCoy told the story of watching the Fiesta Bowl after the 2015 season with Bruce. Ohio State dominated that game, beating Notre Dame, 44-28, as Ezekiel Elliott ran 27 times for 149 yards and four touchdowns. But on one drive, Bruce thought the Buckeyes were throwing too much, and the series ended in an interception.

Bruce jumped up from his seat and said he was calling Meyer to tell him to run it more. Told it was the middle of the game and the coach was probably too busy to take a call, Bruce said, ''He'll answer if it's from me.''

He was probably right.

That was the finger of Earle Bruce. The people at St. John Arena on Wednesday knew the feeling.
They won't see the finger any more. But they'll know that for many of them, Bruce is still pointing the w a y.

Last edited by DB135; 04-26-18 at 01:55 PM.
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