Remember When: John Cooper Finally Claimed Victory Over Michigan After Firing Up The Buckeyes by Punching a Blackboard

By 11W Staff on July 6, 2024 at 2:35 pm
John Cooper
© Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

For seven long years, John Cooper was tormented by the Michigan Wolverines.

With zero wins in six tries, including a 13-13 tie at Ohio Stadium in 1992 which then-Ohio State President Gordon Gee dubbed as “one of [the Buckeyes’] greatest wins ever,” Cooper sought to end his losing streak to the Wolverines swiftly in 1994. 

Looking to exorcise his Michigan demons, the Buckeyes’ skipper led his team into the Horseshoe sitting at 8-3 and No. 22 in the nation, while the Wolverines aimed to maintain their stranglehold over The Game.

Before the game, the Buckeyes ran onto the field through a human tunnel of Ohio State football alumni — totaling around 300 former players — providing Cooper and his squad some added motivation. 

“In my opinion, that was the difference today,” Cooper said after the game. “With all of those players out there, you couldn’t help but play good.” 

Cooper rallied his troops early, helping push the Buckeyes to a 12-3 halftime lead — largely thanks to a 4-yard touchdown run from quarterback Bobby Hoying. Hungry to finally conquer the Wolverines, Cooper took his inspiration efforts a step further during his halftime speech.

In a move that emulated the legendary Woody Hayes, Cooper — inspired by the heat of the moment — sent his fist through a blackboard in the Buckeyes’ locker room, leaving several of his players psyched to resume battle with their hated rival in the second half.

“I was shocked,” then-Ohio State running back Eddie George said after the game. “We were ready to go back on the field when he did it.”

It’s safe to say Cooper’s uncharacteristic burst of emotion had its intended effect, as the Buckeyes cruised to a 22-6 victory over the Wolverines. In the win, Ohio State snapped Michigan’s 111-game streak with at least one touchdown. 

While Cooper did not acknowledge his brief halftime boxing match during the postgame press conference, the cut on his right index finger was enough proof that the punch occurred.

“It’s a bad day to a blackboard,” then-Ohio State offensive lineman Korey Stringer said.

It was a bad day to be a Wolverine as well. 

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