Coop Headed into Rose Bowl Hall of Fame
Ohio State’s second-winningest coach won Rose Bowl as Big Ten and Pac-10 coach
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Cooper faced a lot of criticism during his 13 seasons as the head football coach at Ohio State, but the one thing fans will always remember about the Cooper Years was that victory over Arizona State.
The Buckeyes had not been to the Rose Bowl in 12 years, and they hadn’t won the “Granddaddy of Them All” since Woody Hayes was the coach way back in 1974. That all changed in 1996, when Cooper led Ohio State to an 10-1 season and a return trip to Pasadena.
It was there Coop would coach against his former team, Arizona State, in a game most Ohio State fans will never forget. Quarterback Joe Germaine found receiver David Boston, who walked into the end untouched for the winning touchdown with 19 seconds on the clock.
It was one of only three bowl games Cooper won at Ohio State, but it was the second Rose Bowl victory of his career. For that, Ohio State’s second-winningest coach will be enshrined into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Dec. 30 at the Pasadena Convention Center.
Cooper, who guided Ohio State to 111 victories and five Top 10 national finishes between 1988-2000, is part of a 2012 class of Rose Bowl Hall of Famers that includes Ron Yary and Brian Griese. He is the first Buckeye elected to the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame since former OSU offensive lineman John Hicks back in 2009.
Along with his victory over ASU in the 1997 game, Cooper also won the Rose Bowl as the head coach of the Sun Devils a decade earlier. That team was 10-1-1 and defeated, of all teams, Michigan by a score of 22-15 to win the 1987 Rose Bowl.
Looking at Coop
Explosive offenses and excellent defenses were the hallmarks of Cooper’s 13 years as Ohio State head coach. The only coach to win Rose Bowls as coach of a Pac-10 school (Arizona State in 1987) and a Big Ten school (Ohio State in 1997), Cooper’s Buckeye teams still own the top three single season passing totals in school history and four of the top five total offense totals.
Individually, Cooper produced 21 first-team All-Americans at Ohio State, 16 first-round draft picks, a Heisman Trophy winner and two handfuls of major award winners, including Lombardi, Outland, Butkus, Thorpe and Biletnikoff honorees.
Cooper guided Arizona State to a three-year, 25-9-2 record and one Pac-10 title, and Ohio State to a 111-43-4 mark and to three Big Ten Conference championships. His 1996 Ohio State team defeated Arizona State in the 1997 Rose Bowl and finished 11-1 and No. 2 in the nation. His 1998 team also finished 11-1 and No. 2 with a win in the Sugar Bowl.
Prior to his stints at Arizona State and Ohio State, Cooper was head coach at Tulsa. He guided the Golden Hurricane to five Missouri Valley Conference championships and to a record of 56-32 in eight seasons.
A 1962 graduate of Iowa State University, Cooper was named the Associated Press national Coach of the Year in 1986 and he earned similar honors from the Sporting News, Football Writers Football News and the Pac-12 Conference during his 39 years as a collegiate coach. His overall record was 192-84-6.
Cooper served as president of the American Football Coaches Association. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame
2012 – John Cooper (coach)
2009 – John Hicks
2007 – Pete Johnson
1993 – Curly Morrison
1991 – Rex Kern
1990 – Archie Griffin
1989 – W.W. “Woody Hayes (coach)
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