This year’s conclusion to the college football season gave proponents of an alternative system for crowning a national champion a big boost. That includes former legendary Ohio State coach John Cooper, who had already been an advocate of the plus-one system, though he says that’s only because he doesn’t think the bowl officials or coaches will even consider something as bold or divergent from the current structure as a tournament format with more teams than one could count on one hand.
Cooper was full of ideas during this interview on Monday, including saying that the NCAA should look at the situations of the teams in the SEC. His thought process is: “We say the SEC’s the best and they are the best, but they’ve also had more NCAA violations than probably all the other leagues put together the last 10 years.” Make of that what you will.
John Cooper joined 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland with Baskin and Phelps to discuss the current bowl system and his most current thoughts following Monday night’s BCS Championship Game between Alabama and LSU, his ideas to change the system of deciding a national champion, a tournament-style postseason and what kind of format it might take, why the current power brokers in the BCS and at the administrative levels of universities across the country won’t consider the playoff style format, why that reality makes him an advocate of at least implementing a plus-one system as the next best option, his take on what happened at Ohio State in recent years, the pressure of being the Buckeyes’ head coach and how similar situations of rules infractions are widespread throughout the much-celebrated SEC.
What do you think about the current system after watching Monday night’s game?:
“Absolutely no question in my mind we should have one more game. I would love to see Oklahoma State play Alabama and find out if Alabama’s defense is as good as I think it is. I think it is. I thought that was one of the best defensive teams I’ve seen in a long, long time. I thought they were well-coached and played together. … On the other hand, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an offense that was as bad as LSU’s was. If I asked you what kind of offense LSU runs, what would you tell me?”
More on his plan:
“I don’t know why in the world we don’t take the top 10 teams in the country and let them play in the major bowl games. Maybe we’d have to add one more bowl, maybe a bowl down in Texas or something. And then after those games are played, let’s take the two top teams and play and determine the true national champion. The only thing I would add to that is I would love to see some of those great Southern teams have to come up here and play. We’re always the visiting team for goodness sake.”
What about a tournament-style postseason?:
“I’d like a playoff. I’d like a true playoff, but you might as well shut up. You’re not going to get a playoff. They’re not going to let us do that. … The bowl people might be the most corrupt people in athletics. The first thing they do, they invite you to a bowl game but you’ve got to buy 13,000 tickets or so many tickets. Most teams nowadays lose money going to bowl games. … The old days you went to a bowl game and a bowl game was an award for a good season and you had fun and rewarded your players. … I never coached anywhere where 6-6 was a good year and this year UCLA went to a bowl game and they were 6-7.”
You don’t think they could find a way to make a playoff make them even more money or is it just that they don’t want to make the effort?:
“I don’t think they want to make that effort. I even suggested this week that, as we speak, the American Football Coaches Association is having their convention down in Texas and I suggested let’s have the coaches sponsor one more game. … There’s a lot of money that could be made off of one more game, a BCS plus one more game, but I don’t think there’s a whole lot of interest in that among the coaches even.”
What’s your take on what’s happened at Ohio State in the past year? It has to have broken your heart, right?:
“Well, it has. There’s absolutely no question about it. I thought Jim Tressel, Coach Tressel, was a great, great football coach. I still think he is. … I think with Urban, whoever coaches at Ohio State is going to win. It’s too good a program. … Urban I think is a great football coach and great hire here.”
Can you just give us what it’s like to be in that position, the pressure that comes with it and how a situation like this one could have developed?:
“Coach made a big mistake. All he had to do when he got that email is pass it on to Gene Smith or the compliance people. … Some of those players would’ve had to sit out. … I’m told, I don’t know and I haven’t coached in that league, but I’m told that the Alabamas and LSUs and some of these teams that have these great players, that maybe the NCAA needs to look into their situation. Those teams have been on probation. … We say the SEC’s the best and they are the best, but they’ve also had more NCAA violations than probably all the other leagues put together the last 10 years.”