Wednesday, September 12, 2012

John Cooper - Always a Buckeye

Read a really nice article about former Ohio State head coach, John Cooper, in today's Toledo Blade. In fact, it made the headline story written by Blade sports writer David Briggs. Most of the article focuses on how "Coop" fits in at Ohio State and the relationship that he has with OSU Coach Urban Meyer.

Coach Cooper shares an office in the Woody Hayes Athletic Complex with another former OSU head coach Earle Bruce. Two contrasting coaching philosphies back in the day. Two very successful college head football coaches. Two somewhat different personalities. From rumors I hear, two pretty good golfing buddies. Both Coach Bruce and Coach Cooper provide not only wisdom, but also some football insight for a confident Urban Meyer.

Former head coach Jim Tressell provided an office for Coach Cooper and Coach Bruce. With Ohio State's "panic attack" last season, they lost their office. Coach Meyer was quick to bring the coaches back to the office this past summer. Coop watches practices, sits in on some of the staff meetings, and watches game video. Since he does some player scouting for the Cincinnati Bengals, he talks with not only OSU coaches, but with coaches in the Midwest  to get a deeper insight into some of the player talent that not only the Buckeyes have, but also that opposing teams have.

The article also mentions more about his working relationship with Coach Meyer. Mentions his relationship with the "Legends." Mentions his approach to what he does for the Bengals. Knowing Coach Cooper a little , I am sure that he does not offer a "coaching point," every five minutes, but as  he watches the action, he may drop a comment once in a while.

On knowing John Cooper, he is a really good man. More importantly, knowing him since he came to Ohio State University, family is really important to him. Family was really important to him back in his coaching days. At 75 years young, my guess is that he would be a really good to his grand-kids.

If Coop could have beaten Michigan a few more times, the fickle Buckeye fans would have really embraced him. He once told me that "Can you beat Michigan?" was the first thing a fan on the street would ask him. Just like Coach Tressell leading the Buckeyes over the Wolverines for a long time, it was just one of those things. O-State tried every approach to the Michigan game and just could not get it done. With the Tressell era, QB Troy Smith could have played five bad games in a row, but played "lights out" against Michigan. Michigan probably tired every approach to the game, but just could not get it done. Bottom line, Lloyd Carr and John Cooper were excellent head football coaches.

In a way, I salute John Cooper for making Columbus his home. I love the city of Coulmbus, but Coop took so much "media crap," and Buckeye fans' abuse, staying in C-bus kind of surprises me. I guess as long as he can play golf with Coach Bruce and Dom Tiberi, living here is good.

When he accepted the head coaching position at Ohio State University, no one took him aside and told him what OSU football was all about. Although Coach Bruce was very successful at OSU, the powers to be wanted to go in a different direction. They wanted a more "outgoing" and more "face" coach, who had been successful as a head coach on the college level. Much the same situation at Michigan with Coach Carr and Coach Rod. Could you imagine Coach Hayes doing hot-tub commercials? Somehow, I could not see that.

A former Cincinnati Bearcat head football coach once told me that he very seldom hired his friends to coach for him. Because, he said, "It was tough, when he had to fire them." Sad, because he was not trying to be funny. Coach Cooper probably went the opposite way. That thinking may have been one of his biggest mistakes he made at Ohio State. His coaching philosphy was to hire good coaches and let them coach. Like anything else, sometimes it works; sometimes it does not.

For what it means, I really admire John Cooper. Although I seldom run into him  anymore, he is always fun to chat with. Actually he has a good sense of hunor. Of course, he has a ton of "war stories on football." I always thought if you could get Coach Cooper's mind away from coaching at Ohio State for just an hour, the hour would be crazy with laughs.

Since I have never been the head football coach at Ohio State, I can point out mistakes that Coop made. Easy for me. Just like "sports talk guys." Who cares? But I would say, that at the end of the day, Ohio State was and still is, good to Coach John Cooper, and Coach John Cooper was and still is, good to Ohio State." Always a Buckeye!

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