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By Matt McCoy
Moments after Ohio State announced that former Buckeye football coach John Cooper was part of its 2013 Athletic Hall of Fame class, I sent out the information via Twitter. Within minutes, the first two responses were: "2-10-1" and "Ohio State's Hall of Fame? Should be Michigan's."
Despite his 13 year career at Ohio State which included 111 wins, three Big Ten titles, victories in the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, two number two finishes and five finishes in the top 10, what Cooper is best remembered for is 2-10-1. Just like 610 WTVN football analyst Stan Jackson is best remembered for his two interception game at Michigan in 1997...Stan's only two INT's that season. For many Buckeye faithful, the only part of their bodies of work that matter are the losses to the Wolverines and for that reason, those fans believe the Ohio State Hall of Fame is the last place Cooper should be.
"He absolutely deserves to be in (the OSU Hall of Fame)," Jackson said. "I tend to believe that Coach Cooper's has gotten a bad rap. Fans are very emotional and passionate about the rivalry and you want to win that game but unfortunately, we weren't able to get that done. He does have only two wins against Michigan, that's something he regrets, I regret, and we all regret through the 90's but when you step back and you look at how he was able to take the program and move it up a notch when it comes to national prominence, I think that was fantastic."
Cooper produced 22 first team All-Americans during his 13 years at Ohio State, 16 first round draft picks and a Heisman Trophy winner in Eddie George.
"One of his greatest strengths was he was able to evaluate talent like few coaches around the country," Jackson said. "And he made sure he not only kept the brightest and the best in Ohio, but he reached out across the country."
The anti-Cooper contingent like to say he's not a "true Buckeye," yet after being fired in 2000, Cooper stayed in Columbus and remained part of the community. He also remained supportive of the football program during the Jim Tressel era and now, Urban Meyer's.
"Obviously I'm a little biased. He gave me an opportunity to play quarterback at Ohio State and I'll always appreciate him for that," Jackson said. "Outside of that he's a genuinely nice guy...I'm really happy for him."
So am I. He'll be inducted into the Hall September 27th and will be recognized the next night at halftime of the Ohio State/Wisconsin game.
To listen to Stan Jackson talk about his former coaches Hall of Fame election click HERE:
Speaking of genuinely nice guys, former Buckeye basketball star Scoonie Penn is part of the Hall of Fame class as well.
Scoonie teamed with Michael Redd to produce one of the greatest turnarounds in college basketball history. With Penn sitting out after transferring from Boston College, the 1997-98 Buckeyes won only eight games. A year later, Penn led the Buckeyes to 27 wins and an apperance in the Final Four. And as electric as Penn was on the court, he was that engaging and classy off of it..and he still is.
Congratulations to Scoonie, Coop and the other 12 new members to the Buckeye Hall of Fame.