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Sports desk: 647-3336
Ohio State's ooper fired
AD cites 'climate' of program; coach was 2-10-1 against 'M'
COLUMBUS (AP) - As John Cooper
made his farewell speech after being fired as
Ohio State's coach, the reasons for his dis-
missal could be seen just over his shoulder.
A sign on the wall behind Cooper read:
"Program Goals: 1, Earn an OSU degree. 2,
Win the Big Ten championship. 3, Win the
BCS. 4, Win the national championship."
Ohio State athletics director Andy Geiger
fired Cooper on Tuesday after 13 years in the
wake of Monday's 24-7 loss to South Carolina
in the Outback Bowl. But Geiger stressed
Cooper wasn't fired because of one loss, but
because of a steady "deterioration" of the pro-
"I've been concerned about the climate in
the football program," Geiger said.
Cooper's graduation rate was among the
worst in the Big Ten, and he lost a starting
wide receiver prior to the Outback Bowl who
had a 0.00 grade-point average in the fall quar-
The Buckeyes never won an outright confer-
ence title under Cooper, sharing three crowns.
It's been 16 years since Ohio State finished
alone atop the conference standings, the
longest such drought since an 18-year span in
the 1920s and 1930s.
And Ohio State, despite a pair of No. 2 fin-
ishes in the polls, never played for a national
See COOPER, Page 7B
COOPER' S TROUBLES
John Cooper couldn't finish the season.
A look at the numbers:
In bowl games
Against everyone else
Cooper also failed to have a shot at a title
game in two consecutive seasons because
of losses to Michigan.
No. 18 Michigan 31, No. 2 Ohio State 23
No 21 Michigan 13, No. 2 Ohio State 9
end of an era
RLANDO - David Terrell was jump-
ing for joy as he entered the postgame
press conference - literally.
He gave his coach a big smooch on the cheek
and snickered as he took
his seat in front of the
That may have been
the last time the star
receiver thanks his col-
lege coach in public.
Coach Lloyd Carr
brushed the gesture off
as-pure showmanship. STEPHANI
"He just wanted to get
his picture in the paper,"
Carr said. Off the
But Terrell had plenty Record
of time for that. His
amazing play on the field and his antics off
make him the most recognizable face on the
Michigan football team.
Second only to a fellow junior.
While Terrell entered what may have been his
last postgame press conference, quarterback
Drew Henson exited. A $2M baseball contract,
All-American good looks and an amazing arm
have made the "Golden Boy" probably the
most-hyped Michigan quarterback ever. But the
homegrown star also may have played his last
game in a Michigan uniform on New Year's
If the two enter the NFL Draft this year, they
will be the most touted wide receiver-quarter-
back combo to leave Michigan in their life-
Without a doubt, without this twosome, the
Michigan offense will suffer one of its greatest
Michigan running back Anthony Thomas, powered by one of the best offensive lines in Michigan history, became Michigan's leading all-time rusher Monday.
The answer to the past week's question
remains the same: The two will evaluate their
options when they return to Ann Arbor. While
that response has not changed, the hype sur-
rounding it continues to grow.
With eyes glued to Henson and Terrell and
how their early exit may affect next season's
offense, worries about the future of the Michi-
gan offense without the departing trio of Antho-
ny Thomas, Steve Hutchinson and Jeff Backus
have been put on hold.
Forget Henson. Forget Terrell. Next season's
offense will suffer the most because of the
departure of three people who have given much-
needed leadership on and off the field for four
While their teammates continued to leave
early for large amounts of money and superstar-
dom, Thomas, Hutchinson and Backus stayed at
this university to accomplish something bigger
than themselves. Along with winning four-
straight bowl games, a first for a class in Michi-
gan history, they rewrote the rushing record
books. It took them all four years - it wouldn't
have meant as much if it didn't.
Thomas broke Jamie Morris' career rushing
See OFFEN, Page 4B
Controversy averted: Sooners win
MIAMI (AP) - Case closed. The Okla-
homa Sooners are more than OK, they're
A smothering defense shut down Florida
State and Josh Heupel generated enough
offense to give No. 1 Oklahoma a startling 13-
2 victory in the Orange Bowl on Wednesday
night and its first national title in 15 years.
"To be honest with you, we fully expected to
play that way,"said Sooners coach Bob Stoops,
whose team was a 12-point underdog. "And as
a team, we expected to win."
Oklahoma (13-0) completed a perfect season
and made the issue of a split title a moot point.
Finishing as the nation's only unbeaten
team, the Sooners were automatically crowned
national champs in the coaches' poll under the
Bowl Championship Series format.
Oklahoma awaited The Associated Press
media poll's release early Thursday, confirm-
ing the Sooners as undisputed champs.
"Our players recognize that the history of
become the first team to repeat as national
champions since Nebraska in 1994-95. Had
the Seminoles won, No. 2 Miami (11-1) would
have staked a claim to a share of the title.
"When I look at it now, I think it should
have been Miami and Oklahoma," Seminoles
coach Bobby Bowden said. "We didn't look
like we belonged here."
Heupel more than made up for his runner-up
finish to Florida State's Chris Weinke in the
Heisman Trophy race by outplaying him in the
biggest game of his life.
The left-hander from Aberdeen, S.D., com-
pleted 25 of 39 passes for 214 yards and kept
the Seminoles' defense off balance all night.
Tim Duncan kicked two field goals and
Quentin Griffin scored the clinching touch-
down on a 10-yard run up the middle with
8:30 to play. Florida State avoided its first
shutout in 12 seasons when Stanford Samuels
tackled Oklahoma punter Jeff Ferguson in the
end zone for a safety with 55 seconds remain-
In winning the Orange Bowl, Oklahoma
shocked everyone, including oddsmakers
who had Florida State as a 12-point
favorite. The Sooners were able to win by
completely shutting down the Seminoles'
Here is a comparison of the Seminoles'
offensive averages per game and their
performance in the Orange Bowl:
Regular Season Orange Bowl
Points 42 2
Passing yards 385 274
Rushing yards 165 27
Total offense 550 301
with 16 seconds left and the celebration began.
After Heupel took a knee and the clock ran
down, The Pride of Oklahoma Band broke out
in yet another rendition of "Boomer Sooner"
and the players and fans converged on the field