John Cooper is a former football player and coach. He served as the head coach at the University of Tulsa (1977-1984), Arizona State University (1985-1987), and Ohio State University (1988-2000), compiling a career record of 192-84-6. Cooper was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2008.
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. 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 shared the Big Ten titles in 1993, 1996, and 1998. In his 13 seasons at Ohio State Cooper compiled a 111-43-4 record, second in Ohio State history behind only Woody Hayes.
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 winner 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.
Cooper currently works for the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL as a scouting consultant and also works as a college football analyst for ESPN. On May 1, 2008, Cooper was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.