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John Cooper

Title Head coach
Sport Football
Born July 2, 1937 (1937-07-02) (age 72)
Place of birth Knoxville, Tennessee
Career highlights
Overall 192-84-6
Bowls 5-9
Coaching stats
College Football DataWarehouse
5 Missouri Valley (1980-1984)
1 Pac-10 (1986)
3 Big Ten (1993, 1996, 1998)
Playing career
1959-1962 Iowa State
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Arizona State
Ohio State
College Football Hall of Fame, 2008 (Bio)

John Cooper (born July 2, 1937 in Knoxville, Tennessee) is a former college football head coach who was best known as being the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes college football team from 1988 to 2000.

Cooper grew up in the Knoxville suburb of Powell, Tennessee and joined the United States Army after high school. After serving for two years, he enrolled at Iowa State University where he played football for four years eventually becoming team captain and MVP.

Cooper spent time as an assistant coach at Iowa State, Oregon State, UCLA, Kansas, and Kentucky. In 1977, he was named the head football coach at the University of Tulsa.[1] At Tulsa, he compiled a 57-31 record with five Missouri Valley Conference titles. He became the head coach at Arizona State in 1985 where his teams played in three consecutive bowl games, including the 1987 Rose Bowl, during his three-year tenure. Notably, he was just 0-2-1 against arch-rival Arizona. He accepted the job as head coach at Ohio State on December 31, 1987. It is rumored that he became the front-runner for the head coaching position at Ohio State because of his 1987 Rose Bowl victory over Michigan.

During his time in Columbus, he never won an outright Big Ten championship, but shared Big Ten titles in 1993, 1996, and 1998. In his 13 seasons at Ohio State Cooper compiled a 111-43-4 won-loss record, second in Ohio State history behind only Woody Hayes.

Overall, Cooper will be remembered for his many victories at Ohio State but also for his 3-8 bowl record and his 2-10-1 record against rival Michigan. His most crippling losses to the Wolverines came in 1993, 1995, and 1996. In 1993, Ohio State entered the game undefeated, ranked #5, and heavily favored, only to be shut out by the Wolverines and denied their first trip to Pasadena in almost 10 years. In 1995, Ohio State lost a #2 ranking, the Big Ten title, and another shot at the Rose Bowl by losing to the Wolverines, 31-23, in Ann Arbor.

In 1996, the Buckeyes smelled revenge in Columbus and were ranked #2, but failed to achieve payback. The gut-wrenching 1996 loss, which came by a 13-9 score, prevented a #2 vs. #3 matchup in the Rose Bowl against Cooper's former team, Arizona State. That team did win the Rose Bowl and finished with a #2 ranking. In 1998, Ohio State again achieved a #2 ranking, winning the Sugar Bowl and again sharing the Big Title.

His dismal record against the school's arch-rival, coupled with a lackluster 3-8 bowl record, a bowl-less 6-6 season in 1999, and pervasive academic and discipline problems amongst his players, led to Cooper's firing after the 2000 season.

He currently works for the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL as a scouting consultant and also works as a college football analyst for ESPN.

Cooper recruited and coached a great deal of talent who would go on to play in the National Football League, including 1995 Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George, 1995 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner Terry Glenn, 1996 Outland Trophy winner Orlando Pace, 1998 Jim Thorpe Award winners Antoine Winfield, Alonzo Spellman, Robert Smith, Dan Wilkinson, Joey Galloway, Rickey Dudley, Mike Vrabel, Korey Stringer, David Boston, Shawn Springs, Ahmed Plummer, Na'il Diggs, Nate Clements, and Ryan Pickett.

On May 1, 2008, Cooper was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.[2]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl Coaches# AP°
Tulsa Golden Hurricane (Missouri Valley Conference) (1977–1978)
1977 Tulsa 3-8 2-3 4th
1978 Tulsa 9-2 4-1 2nd
Tulsa Golden Hurricane (Independent) (1979)
1979 Tulsa 6-5
Tulsa Golden Hurricane (Missouri Valley Conference) (1980–1984)
1980 Tulsa 8-3 4-1 1st
1981 Tulsa 6-5 5-1 T-1st
1982 Tulsa 10-1 6-0 1st
1983 Tulsa 8-3 5-0 1st
1984 Tulsa 6-5 5-0 1st
Tulsa: 56-32 31-6
Arizona State Sun Devils (Pacific-10 Conference) (1985–1987)
1985 Arizona State 8-4 5-2 T-2nd L Holiday
1986 Arizona State 10-1-1 5-1-1 1st W Rose 5 4
1987 Arizona State 7-4-1 3-3-1 6th W Freedom
Arizona St.: 25-9-2 13-6-2
Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten Conference) (1988–2000)
1988 Ohio State 4-6-1 2-5-1 T-7th
1989 Ohio State 8-4 6-2 T-3rd L Hall of Fame 21
1990 Ohio State 7-4-1 5-2-1 5th L Liberty
1991 Ohio State 8-4 5-3 T-3rd L Hall of Fame
1992 Ohio State 8-3-1 5-2-1 2nd L Citrus 19 18
1993 Ohio State 10-1-1 6-1-1 T-1st W Holiday 10 11
1994 Ohio State 9-4 6-2 2nd L Citrus 9 14
1995 Ohio State 11-2 7-1 2nd L Citrus 8 6
1996 Ohio State 11-1 7-1 T-1st W Rose 2 2
1997 Ohio State 10-3 6-2 T-2nd L Sugar 12 12
1998 Ohio State 11-1 7-1 T-1st W Sugar 2 2
1999 Ohio State 6-6 3-5 T-8th
2000 Ohio State 8-4 5-3 4th L Outback
Ohio State: 111-43-4 70-30-4
Total: 192–84–6
      National Championship         Conference Title         Conference Division Title
Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

See also


Sporting positions
Preceded by
F. A. Dry
University of Tulsa Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Don Morton
Preceded by
Darryl Rogers
Arizona State University Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Larry Marmie
Preceded by
Earle Bruce
Ohio State University Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Jim Tressel


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