- A two-time consensus All-American and a three-time All-Big Ten selection.
- Recorded 569 career tackles, ranking second all-time in OSU history.
- Held nine school records at career’s end, still holding six.
- Coached by College Football Hall of Fame coach Woody Hayes.
- Becomes the 25th Buckeye player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Record-setting tackler Tom Cousineau becomes the latest in a long list of Buckeye players and coaches to join the College Football Hall of Fame. It is a Buckeye honor roll that includes his college coach Woody Hayes and legendary-teammate Archie Griffin.
Cousineau’s 569 career tackles (259 unassisted, 310 assisted) are second all-time at Ohio State, which has produced such standout defensive Hall of Famers—Chris Spielman, Randy Gradishar, John Hicks and Jack Tatum—all inducted since 1998.
“I have never been to the dinner,” Cousineau said before his induction in December. “But I have been to the Waldorf a few times. Actually, the first time I was ever there was the 1979 NFL Draft where I was the first player selected in the draft. I remember it being so surreal.
“The press has no access to us (at Ohio State). Woody liked it that way. I am standing before these microphones and lights. I think people are going, ‘Who the hell is that?’ People knew Ohio State and Woody Hayes, and certainly Archie Griffin. The rest of us? Not so much.”
During Cousineau’s four-year career, Ohio State won or tied for three Big Ten titles, finished among the Top 11 teams in the Associated Press Poll three times and played in four bowls. The Buckeyes compiled a 36-10-2 overall record (28-4 in the Big Ten) during Cousineau’s career, which got off to a rocky start in early practices his freshman season in 1975.
Cousineau, a standout high school star at St. Edward in the Cleveland area, revealed during two-a-days he called his father, a high school coach in his hometown, and told him he may have made a mistake going to Ohio State.
Cousineau was having trouble blocking Ohio State’s veteran offensive line and a fullback named Pete Johnson, who was the blocking-back for Griffin. But things changed during another practice when Cousineau shed off blocks and “pancaked” Johnson on successive plays, infuriating Hayes and getting himself thrown out of practice. The rest is history.
Besides trailing only Buckeye Markus Marek in career tackles at Ohio State (572) heading into the 2016 season, Cousineau also remained second in unassisted tackles (259) behind Spielman (283) and assisted tackles (310) behind Marek (316).
Cousineau had 20 or more tackles in a game seven times during his college career. He had 29 tackles against Penn State in 1978—an Ohio State mark that has only been equaled by Spielman in an OSU victory over Michigan in 1986. During his senior season of 1978, Cousineau also had 28 tackles against SMU, 23 against Baylor and 21 vs. Michigan. Cousineau, who was named team captain and team MVP his senior year, would play his final college game in the 1978 Gator Bowl, a 17-15 loss to Clemson, coinciding with the final game Hayes would coach at Ohio State.
“I was very fortunate to play in a scheme that allowed me to run,” Cousineau said. “They weren’t trying to cram a square peg into a round hole. They let me play and used me the way I was most capable and useful. So I made a lot of plays.”
A few months later, Cousineau became Ohio State‘s first No. 1 overall selection in the 1979 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He opted to play for Montreal in the Canadian Football League from 1979-82. He then returned to play in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns (1982-85) and San Francisco 49ers (1986-87).
Cousineau, a winner of the Silver Anniversary Butkus Award in 2003, serves as an assistant football coach at his former high school. He also is enshrined in that school’s Hall of Fame, and he was inducted into the Ohio State Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.