Wednesday, September 22, 2010


As a person abysmally ignorant of football, it was rather amusing that I was to be the one to write about John Cooper when he became the Head Coach of the O.S.U. football team.

As the Publisher of "Pass The Word", the monthly newsletter of our National Management Association Club, I was required to write a monthly column and cover the speakers at the monthly dinner.

Below is my article: "Agile, Mobile and Hostile":

Being "agile, mobile and hostile," said with a Tennessee twang, are the characteristics necessary for a successful Ohio State football team, according to the new head coach John Cooper as he spoke to over 200 NMA members at the April dinner meeting. "I believe in playing physical football; take the shortest route to the ball, then get there in a bad mood!"

Although Cooper isn't superstitious, he carries a "lucky buckeye" just in case. The buckeye had been tucked away for years in a family cedar chest. When he heard of the O.S.U. opening, he began carrying the buckeye; he kept the buckeye in his pocket all the time he was a candidate for the coaching job. With refreshing candor, he openly admitted actively campaigning for the job: "When the job came open, I wanted it; I made no bones about it; I called everyone I ever knew to put in a good word for me!"

Cooper went on to say, "If the game is close, we're going to win because I'm lucky; I really believe that." He added that the Buckeyes, along with a fine coaching staff and huge fan support, will make a lot of their own luck on the playing field: "I think the coaches are good enough to win three or four games and I think the players are good enough to win four or five games; that means that the fans have to win two games for us - they have to beat LSU and Michigan for us," Cooper quipped.

Cooper was named the top college football coach in the U.S. in 1986 when he led Arizona State to a 10-1-1 record; Cooper has won nearly 70% of his games as head coach. He said that he felt pretty good about being the Head Coach at O.S.U. until he attended a Buckeye Boosters meeting: "The Boosters said they were 100% behind me - win or tie."

Despite the excellent status of his program at Arizona State, Cooper wanted the challenge of a new program at Ohio State. Cooper said that he admired the job done by Bruce: "You don't win nine games for eight consecutive years without knowing something about football; anyplace I've been, 9-3 is pretty good."

Increasing the physical strength of the players is a top priority; he stated that only four members of last year's team were capable of bench-pressing more than 400 pounds compared to 23 on Michigan's team.

A staunch advocate of "redshirting" freshman to give them a year to develop physically and concentrate on academics, his philosophy in dealing with freshmen is simple: "If they're good enough to play, they'll play, if they're not, they won't play."

Cooper stressed that there is definitely a home field advantage; "Ohio Stadium can't be a neutral field; the crowd has got to be involved. I don't want the other team to hear the snap count." He said he noticed a distinct home field advantage when Arizona State traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas to play Arkansas; "playing Arkansas at Fayetteville is like playing Notre Dame in Rome," he jokingly told the audience.

He plans to concentrate on recruiting in Ohio: "We've got to control recruiting in the state and then we've got to go out of state for some great athletes." Cooper confidently completed his presentation by saying: "There's no question we'll win; it may take a year or two to get the program going to where we want it, but we will win!"

By Sue Raypole