Three worst head coaching hires in Ohio State football history

Chris Holtmann was an awful hire for the basketball program. That got us thinking: who have been the worst hires for the Ohio State football program?

Dec 29, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day leads warm-ups prior to
Dec 29, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day leads warm-ups prior to / Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA
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2. John Cooper, Ohio State football coach 1988-2000

One of the reasons Ohio State football fans are so obsessed with beating TTUN is because of John Cooper. Cooper had some of the best football teams the Buckeyes have ever assembled. The 1993, 1995, 1996, and 1998 teams were truly great teams. He also won three Big Ten titles. He just couldn't beat Michigan.

Cooper changed the narrative around recruiting. He recruited more on a national level and got some of the best players in the country to come to Ohio State. Players like Eddie George, David Boston, and Shawn Springs were all first-round picks. None of them are from Ohio.

That style of recruiting drew criticism because of Cooper's inability to beat Michigan. In his 13 seasons leading the Ohio State football program, he finished just 2-10-1 against TTUN. What's worse is in three of the seasons I mentioned above, Ohio State came into The Game undefeated before getting beaten by TTUN.

Eventually, the fanbase had enough. Cooper followed up a heartbreaking 1998 season that saw them beat TTUN but lose to Michigan State with two mediocre seasons. In 1999 and 2000, he went a combined 14-10. That was the final straw and he was fired following a loss in the Outback Bowl.

Firing Cooper gave way to Ohio State hiring Jim Tressel and starting a new era of dominance in The Game. Cooper just couldn't win the game that mattered the most and fans still talk about it to this day. Heck, I've called Ryan Day John Cooper 2.0 because Day has struggled against TTUN.

The final coach on this list is the guy Cooper was hired to follow and never came close to competing for a national title with his own players.