JOHN A. WIETHE ('34) --- 1982 Inductee --- lettered three years in football, three years in basketball, and one year in baseball. Member of the Legion of Honor. Member of the XU Basketball Hall of Fame.
The late John "Socko" Wiethe would have had a tough time playing in the NFL these days with the modern head-slap rule. While at Xavier, it's told that he used to bang away on the head of any lineman he ever went up against. And there weren't many of these battles that he didn't come out the victor.
Dynamic drive, a keen judgment that almost never erred, and an innate love of the game were the prime qualities which gained for "Socko" recognition throughout the Midwest. Wiethe came to Xavier from Roger Bacon High School, where he lacked the size for a college lineman, but in his first two years at Xavier he grew in both size and ability.
In his junior year, he made the All-Ohio Team at guard and also made the All-Carnegie Opponent Team. With his usual loyalty, he willingly switched to tackle his senior year and was chosen First Team All-Ohio that year, along with making Loyola's and Carnegie's All-Opponent teams.
When he was named to the All-Carnegie Opponent Team, he was selected over such standout players as "Moose" Krause of Notre Dame and Ed Fehring of Purdue. He helped XU upset Indiana 6-0 his senior year. Also in his final year at Xavier, he was elected unanimously by the coaches and players captain and MVP. He was called by his coach Joseph A. Meyer "as outstanding an athlete and leader as anyone ever coached."
One basketball story sticks out during Wiethe's XU career. Wiethe played Notre Dame All-American Ed "Moose" Krause one-on-one, outscoring him seven points to five. Notre Dame won the game 25-15 but, when John Wiethe fouled out of the game, written accounts tell of three Irish players, recognizing a game well played, walking over to the Xavier bench to shake his hand.
After graduation, Wiethe played football for the original Cincinnati Bengals. Later he played for Model Shoes, an independent pro club that almost beat NFL Champion Washington one season, dropping a 14-7 decision.
Wiethe also played basketball professionally. He played three seasons for the Cincinnati Redlegs, an independent pro basketball team.
Wiethe also distinguished himself as a coach. After stints as a coach at Roger Bacon and as a minor league baseball umpire, Wiethe took over as the football line coach at the University of Cincinnati at age 31. Later he was asked to take over as head basketball coach. The rest is history, as they say, as Wiethe compiled a 106-47 (.693) career record on the hardwood, leading UC to its first 20-win season and first NIT appearance.
Although he officially retired from sports before his 40th birthday, Wiethe still kept his sports interest. He led a group with a bid for ownership of the Cincinnati Bengals, a bid which he lost out to Paul Brown. Outside the sports world, he distinguished himself as an aggressive lawyer and politician.