Strobel resigns, heads to Barberton HS then Ohio State

Harry Strobel announced his resignation at Bellevue on April 15, 1946, it accept a three-year contract as head football coach and assistant basketball coach at Barberton Central High School. Strobel, who was selected from over 60 applications, said, “I have had a fine experience here and I appreciate the cooperation I have had from the fans, school officials and especially the boys who had played for me.”

In his final year, Strobel’s gridiron squad posted a 4-3-2 record while his basketball team finished 7-11 but posted a 6-1 NOL record for a second place finish.

Paul Brown, who received his discharge from the U.S. Navy just three weeks earlier, was the speaker at Strobel’s final basketball banquet on April 2, 1946. Sponsors LionPresident Carl Zechman and Kiwanis President F.D. Swigart, welcomed a crowd of over 200 fans.

Strobel’s move to Barberton reaped many benefits. He coached Barberton for three years. His first-year team was a warm up as they finished 8-2. Strobel’s second year brought him his second state championship becoming only the second coach in the state of Ohio to win state titles in two sports — basketball and football. He had coached the Bellevue Redmen’s “Whiz Kids” to a perfect 25-0 season en-route to the 1945 state title.

Strobel’s 1947 Barberton Magics claimed the Ohio scholastic football championship when they closed an undefeated season by plastering a 26-12 defeat on the Massillon Tigers before an inside and out throng of 30,000 people.

The game story read:

“The only consolation Massillon can get out of the verdict is that Coach Strobel is an ex-Massillonian who graduated from Massillon in the mid-20s. He can write the mythical state title into the records which include a state championship basketball team while at Bellevue High in 1945 and an undefeated football team at Barberton High. A bus load of Harry’s (Strobel) old fans came to Massillon to see his team annex the title — incidentally Paul Brown was a spectator at the game.”

The Bellevue Gazette said a group of Bellevueans were at the game and congratulated Strobel after the contest. Strobel was a runaway winner in the gridiron poll for “Coach of the Year” honors conducted by the Associated Press. He polled 92 votes to Elyria’s candidate who received 12 ballots.

Two members of Strobel’s 1947 squad went on to distinguish themselves — Bob Toneff and Bo Schembechler.

Toneff had an outstanding career at Notre Dame as a three-year starter for the Irish, including the 1949 National Championship team. Toneff went on to play 13 years in the NFL for San Francisco and then the Washington Redskins. He played in four Pro Bowls during his career.

Bo Schembechler, best know as the head coach at the University of Michigan, where he coached the Wolverines from 1969 through the 1989 season. Schembechler’s record at Michigan was 234-65-8. He became famous after he coached the Wolverines to a 24-12 win over Woody Hayes’ Buckeyes in 1969, igniting the famous ‘10 Year War’ that elevated an already storied Michigan-Ohio State rivalry into college football’s greatest grudge match.

Strobel joined Ohio State as a coach of the freshmen team under Buckeye head football coach Wes Fesler. On December 9, 1951, Fesler decided “that the $15,000 a year job in this football hotbed wasn’t worth the headache.” Strobel became one of eight candidates for the head job.

And for the next 65 days Strobel was in limbo.

Paul Brown’s, then head coach and general manager of the Cleveland Browns, name was thrown into the mix. Others included Sid Gillman (Cincinnati), Church Mather (Massillon), Don Faurot (Missouri), Jim McDonald (Springfield High School and Woody Hayes (Miami University).

On a visit to Bellevue in early February 1951, Strobel told the gang at Loudy’s, a sports hang out, “My office is just two doors down from Dick Larkins — Ohio State athletic director — but honestly, I don’t know a thing except what I read inthe paper. The suspense is tremendous.”

Bellevue Gazette sports editor Chuck Baker asked where Paul Brown fit into the picture, Strobel replied, “Paul’s keeping us all guessing a little. I don’t know how interested he is in returning.”

The suspense ended on Feb. 12, 1951, when Wayne (Woody) Hayes was unanimously approved by the board of trustees as OSU’s sixth head coach in 10 years. Hayes was given a one-year contract for $12,500 per year. Hayes hired Strobel as line coach, a position he held until he left his coaching duties in 1969, switching to the intramural office for OSU.

Harry Strobel died in Columbus on November 29, 1971. His last visit to Bellevue was in 1970 to be honored by the Knights of Columbus at a father-son banquet in honor of the “Whiz Kids” 25th anniversary. Speaking at the breakfast, Strobel praised the team as the most unusual group of dedicated young men. He cited the fact that “this 1945 team whose members graduated from college or university, were all successful in their chosen professions.”