Jan. 2, 2001

Director of Athletics Andy Geiger

On when the decision to make a coaching change was made.
“It was made the last evening.”

On whether the decision hinged on the outcome of the Outback Bowl.
“No, it did not hinge on winning or losing the Outback Bowl. Although, I would say yesterday was sort of the capstone on what we have seen as a deteriorating climate within the football program. Discipline, competitiveness, academic pursuits, a whole series or things. I thought yesterday’s performance was, unfortunately, an exhibit of all those things rolled into one.”

On Cooper’s reaction when he was told of the decision.
“I don’t know that I would characterize his reaction as surprised. I think he was disappointed.”

On whether or not Cooper had lost control of the OSU football program.
“I’m not sure loss of control is the way I would summarize it. But I do think a change in climate and a change in leadership is indicated at this point.”

On whether off-the-field problems in recent weeks were factors in the decision
“I think all of those things you mentioned are concerns we had. You can look at the fact that there were six weeks to prepare for yesterday’s game. There were six weeks to work on all kind of issues that have been raised and to prepare to have the competitive performance and enthusiastic performance we had all hoped for. It simply didn’t materialize. I would say that all of that sort of coalesced my concerns and my worries.

“Yesterday was the capstone of concerns. The totality of the Outback experience may have tipped the ballot, certainly.”

On whether assistant coaches will be retained
“Tenure of the assistant coaches is up to a head coach. Some of the assistants may apply to be head coach. Whoever the head coach is may elect to keep some of the assistants or all of the assistants. Time will tell.”

On what he will look for in a new coach
“I think we’ll look for the best person we can find to meet a variety of criteria which the group and I will put together in the next 24-48 hours. We’ll proceed from there.”

On whether or not anyone has been contacted to fill the position
“No. I don’t think it’s ethical to contact people before we’ve made a decision on what we’re going to do. It’s certainly not ethical to contact people without first consulting with their university.”

On some of the possible academic guidelines for the next coach
“I think you could expect those kinds of standards to be included. We will be up front with what we expect.”

On whether the incoming coach will have an OSU background
“I think it (an Ohio State background) is a piece of it, but I think you could assimilate some of that in just being a part of the environment and atmosphere here. An Ohio State connection would be a positive, but not a necessity.”

On Cooper’s record versus Michigan and in Bowl games
“I think yesterday was a capstone of some of the concerns we’ve witnessed and felt about the program. I think all of that is in the record. It’s indisputable. All of that is a part of the record. We were certainly hoping for a better outcome. At least a more competitive outcome.”

On the effect the coaching change will have on recruiting
“Clearly, timing is not perfect. We are recruiting and will continue to recruit. The assistant coaches are still a part of the Ohio State University football staff. Until any decision is made otherwise, they will be actively working on their recruiting contacts and will continue to have weekends and work at it. As soon as we have completed the coaching staff with the new head coach, and whatever he decides to do as far as staff is concerned, we’ll be able to solidify our recruiting.

“Decisions like this are not made with a short view, they are made with a long view. The timing is awkward, but we’ll have to move forward with the decision we made.”

On the key factors that led to the decision
“I’ve been concerned about the climate in the football program and the lack of academic success first and foremost. Secondly, evidence of an absence of discipline or self-discipline in terms of players on and off the football field, finally, a concern about competitiveness and competitive spirit in the program. I would say when you add everything up, including the Outback experience, it led us to this decision.”

On hiring an assistant coach for the position
“I have no objection or bias against promoting from within, but I don’t want to speculate about any individual.”

On the position of head coach at OSU
“I think this a great job. This is a great university that is on the move. There are things happening here with a new academic plan, new leadership and new energy I see everywhere. I think Ohio State is an extraordinary place. We will find somebody we think is outstanding to come and lead the football program. The search is absolutely, completely wide open. Let me emphasize we will try to this well. If we do so rapidly, that’s fine, but that’s not as important as doing it well.”

On speaking with the team about the change
“I have not talked to any of the players at this point. I will meet with the players tomorrow.”

On possibly looking at a Big Ten coach to takeover the program
“We’re going to do the very best job we can for The Ohio State University. If that means having to negotiate with someone else within our family, then we would not be shy about doing that. But, we would do it in a gentlemanly, straightforward and above-board manner. If that is the direction we decide to go. I’m not signaling anything.”

On finding a new coach and academic improvement
“I would like to have an outstanding new coach as quickly as we can while performing the search well and thoroughly. As far as academic success is concerned, 100 percent would be perfect. We would like to strive for that goal. Whether or not we would ever achieve that is problematic, but we certainly don’t like being toward the bottom of the Big Ten. We aspire, as a university, to be not only a Big Ten leader, but a national leader. We want our athletics program to mirror the other kinds of things that are going on here at Ohio State, which are very exciting.”

On making the change
“I was dismayed by things that happened in and around the Outback Bowl, the game itself and some of the incidents and non-incidents that happened during the week. It was my fervent hope we would not make a change and we would not be in the position of feeling we had to make a change. I think stability is a good and positive thing in a program. I don’t like doing what we’re doing. I really am very fond of John Cooper. I feel very badly today because of the fellowship I feel for him. I have enjoyed working with him a great deal, so this is not the most fun thing.”

On John Cooper and his time at OSU
“I want to reiterate that this is a person who served this university extremely well. It just is time for, I think, new leadership.”