|Bucyrus leaves The NCO in a hurry or
over a Murphy:
The first major crisis for the NCOL occurred in 1932 between Bucyrus and Mansfield. During the final weekend of the basketball season the Tygers visited Bucyrus to clinch a co-championship.
Mansfield's successful coach J. Russell Murphy attempted to take Herb Slough, an Ashland College assistant football coach, into the gymnasium. It was his intent that the AC coach would join him on the Mansfield bench. The Bucyrus ticket man made an effort to enforce their policy that only coaches and players were permitted on the playing floor especially since Slough had no ticket or credentials. Coach Murphy "pushed" his way into the gym with his "pal" close behind. The degree of contact was disputed.
Mansfield won the closely contested game 22-21. Bucyrus held a one-point lead for the final three minutes of the game, and the Redmen tried to stall their way to a victory. In the final twenty seconds Mansfield scored the winning basket. The Mansfield coach exited the floor with the comment that Bucyrus was "the most discourteous school in the league."
The next Tuesday (March 1, 1932) D.C. Baer, the Bucyrus HS Principal, phoned every Principal in the league, and he announced that their athletic board had decided to "withdraw from the North Central Ohio League." The Telegraph-Forum reported that "the rude conduct on the part of Coach "Russ" Murphy caused the split." Furthermore, the Bucyrus officials notified H. R. Townsend, the State Commissioner of high school athletics, about the events.
That same week a delegation of administrators from Ashland and Shelby visited Bucyrus for an unofficial attempt at reconciliation and a partial promise that Bucyrus would remain on their future athletic schedules. Nevertheless, Supt. Dietrich and Principal Baer steadfastly resolved that they intended to completely sever all athletic relations with Mansfield HS "as long as the present coach (Murphy) is affiliated with the school."
When the league met on March 15th at Galion, Tiffin Junior Order Home High was discussed as the replacement for Bucyrus. Only Ashland and Mansfield favored their admission. The others admitted that they felt the Junior Order football team was too strong. Thus the NCOL remained at five teams, and Bucyrus left the league for four years until the '36 basketball season.
The next year Mansfield found itself in the eye of another controversy. It had been five years since they had lost an NCO football game. The Fall meeting (Nov. 25, 1933) was scheduled for Galion. One big argument seemed to face the league. Bill McKee worded it as such, "Should the too strong Mansfield be evicted, expelled, or bounced out of the NCO?" However, Shelby, the smallest school, salvaged the league by upsetting the Tygers 13-12 for the football championship.
A second question over Mansfield's league membership was sportsmanship. At the Ashland-Mansfield game someone threw a tomato at the Ashland Principal J.E. Bohn, who was Vice President of the NCO and a member of the OHSAA State Board of Athletics. It hit the person next to him, Fat Emerson, in the neck. According to Bill McKee had he ducked, "I shudder to think, but I stick to my contention that Fat Emerson's neck saved the NCO."
Regardless, the league could not afford to drop to four teams without Mansfield. Willard of the Little Big Seven was one consideration as was Bellevue of that league. The officers felt first they should offer Bucyrus a chance to return to the NCO. They even favored a seven-team league.
The most wooed school was Mount Vernon. They were struggling with a playing field and their last place finish in the Central Ohio League. Their administration said that they would look favorably on an invitation. It happened at the Nov. 28, 1934 meeting in Galion. While they became the sixth member, Bucyrus was approached about returning to the NCO, but they claimed that their independent status was financially better than being in the league.