Chic Harley attended East High School in Columbus, Ohio. In Harley's career at East High School, he lost only one game - his last game. So many people wanted to see Harley play, many times games at (The Now) East High "Harley Field" outdrew Ohio State games.
The Buckeyes repeated as conference champion in 1917 with an 8-0-1 record, and Harley repeated as a consensus first-team All American. In 1918 Harley left school to be a pilot in the United States Army Air Service during World War I, but he returned the following year. In 1919 the Buckeyes finished 6-1. Harley's only career loss was a heartbreaker; the team lost the game and the conference title to the University of Illinois on the last play of the last game of the season. That season, however, is remembered at Ohio State for the Buckeyes' first victory over the University of Michigan. Following that senior season, Harley was again a consensus first-team All-America selection.
Throughout his Ohio State career, Harley played right halfback on offense and safety on defense, and was also the team's punter and place kicker. He scored 201 points in a 23-game career. This total was the school's individual scoring record until Harley was surpassed by Howard "Hopalong" Cassady in 1955. Harley's 8.74 points per game remains a school record. Harley also holds the team record for interceptions in a game: he picked off four passes in the 1919 game against the University of Michigan.
In 1950 Harley was voted a first-team halfback on the Associated Press college football All-Star team for the first half of the 20th century. The other first-team halfback was Jim Thorpe. Red Grange was voted to the second team. When asked to explain his vote, one writer said, "Red Grange was a great runner, but that's all he was. Chic Harley was a great runner, a great passer, a great kicker and a great defensive back. That's why he's on my first-team. In 1951 Harley was one of 44 players and coaches selected as the charter members of the College Football Hall of Fame.
In Harley's era the Buckeyes had played in Ohio Field, which had a seating capacity of only a few thousand. Harley so excited the fans of Ohio State football that he inspired a $1.3 million funding drive, starting in 1920, to build the massive Ohio Stadium. For this reason Ohio Stadium, where the Buckeyes still play, is sometimes called "The House That Harley Built".
|1916 (7 games)||8||7||1||58|
|1917 (9 games)||8||15||3||72|
|1919 (8 games)||7||17||4||71|
Following his college playing career, Harley was contacted by George Halas to play for the NFL team Halas was organizing, a team that would ultimately become the Chicago Bears. Harley's brother, Bill Harley, negotiated a contract that was to give Chic Harley one-third ownership of the team. However, that contract was voided when a physical revealed health impairments resultant from Harley's time in the war. Author Jeff Davis, in the book "Papa Bear: The Life and Legacy of George Halas", claims that the impairment was syphilis. Harley ultimately became hospitalized at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Danville, Illinois, where we would be a patient for the remainder of his life.
Harley returned to Columbus in 1949 for a tribute at Ohio Stadium. The Ohio State University Marching Band adapted their famous "Script Ohio" formation to spell out the name "Chic." That performance remains the only time that the formation has been altered. Harley died in 1974 at the age of 78. His pallbearers were contemporary Ohio State football players, including Archie Griffin and Neal Colzie.
Harley was among the first induction class of the Ohio State Varsity O Hall of Fame in 1977.
Ohio State began honoring players by retiring their numbers in 1999. Jersey numbers were more fluid in Harley's era, changing from game to game, but the University decided to honor Harley by retiring the final number he wore for Ohio State, #47. The ceremony was held at halftime of a game on October 30, 2004. Ironically, that number was worn by Harley in the only collegiate game he lost. Many believe it would have been more appropriate to retire #10, which was the number Harley wore while defeating Michigan.
Harley attended East High school on the eastside of Columbus. To this day, East High still plays on the same field Chic played on over 90 years ago. The field has been named in honor of him (Harley Field).