Twenty-five years ago this year, John Cooper coached his first game on the sidelines at Ohio State, and we at Buckeye Sports Bulletin are celebrating the anniversary by allowing fans to vote on the best players to play in the Cooper era to make an All-John Cooper team.
Cooper is a lightning rod among Ohio State fans, as his struggles against Michigan and in bowl games are well documented, but at the same time, he put Buckeye football back on the map and served as a bridge for the program into the modern era of college football while also remaking the team into a high-flying, nationally contending outfit.
For his efforts, Cooper has been named to the Rose Bowl and College Football halls of fame, and he will join the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame this fall.
We start the voting at quarterback, a position that hadn’t always been featured at OSU until Cooper came around and brought the forward pass to Columbus. Cooper had a number of multiyear starters, many of whom helped rewrite the record books in Columbus.
What follows are thumbnail bios of the contenders in chronological order with the poll below.
Greg Frey: Started each of Cooper’s first three seasons from 1988-90. … Topped 2,000 yards passing in each of those campaigns. … His 6,316 passing yards are third in OSU history. … His 37 career TD passes are sixth. … Directed OSU’s largest comeback win, bringing the Buckeyes back from a 31-0 deficit in 1989 at Minnesota. … His 362 passing yards in that game are third all-time for a Buckeye QB.
Bobby Hoying: Went 30-6-1 in three seasons as a starter from 1993-95, directing Ohio State to a co-Big Ten championship and Holiday Bowl triumph in 1993, a win against Michigan in 1994 and an 10-0 start in 1995. … Holds Ohio State’s career records for touchdown passes (57, tied with Terrelle Pryor) and completions (498). … Threw for 7,232 yards in his career and 3,269 yards in 1995, both of which are second in OSU annals. … His 354 passing yards in 1995 vs. Penn State are fourth all-time in school history, and he went 20 of 24 for 304 yards and a school-record-tying five touchdowns vs. Purdue in 1994. … Threw for 29 touchdowns in 1995, a school record at the time that has since been passed by one by Troy Smith in 2006. … Also threw for five touchdowns vs. Pittsburgh in 1995. … Earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 1995 while being named an Academic All-American and National Football Foundation Scholarship winner.
Stanley Jackson: Split time with Joe Germaine in 1996 and ’97, going 8-0 in 1996 as a starter and 10-2 in ’97. … Led the team with 1,298 passing yards and 12 touchdown passes in ’96. … Threw for 2,660 yards, 13th all-time at OSU. … Ran for 533 career yards. … Completed 13 of 15 passes vs. Indiana in 1997, a percentage of 86.7 that is second in school history. … Had a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of 22-to-9.
Joe Germaine: After splitting two years with Jackson, stepped into the starting lineup and posted one of the best seasons in school history in 1998 while earning first-team All-Big Ten honors. … His 230 completions, 384 attempts and 3,330 yards that year are a school record, while his 25 TD are tied for fourth. … Tossed for at least 300 yards seven times that season, including a career-high 351 against Indiana while tossing three scores. … Threw for 277.5 yards per game in 1998, shattering an OSU record. … Went 14-2 overall as a starter, leading OSU to a comeback win in the 1997 Rose Bowl and directing the team’s 1998 wins vs. Michigan and vs. Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl. … His 6,370 passing yards and 56 touchdowns are third in Ohio State’s career annals.
Steve Bellisari: Took over as the starting quarterback two games into 1999, going 13-9 in two years under Cooper. … Also posted a 6-3 record as a starter in 2001 under Jim Tressel. … Threw for 4,238 yards and tossed 25 touchdown passes in two years under Cooper. … His 2,319 passing yards in 2000 are eighth all-time in OSU single-season annals. … Finished his career sixth at OSU with 5,878 passing yards and eighth with 35 touchdowns.