"Closer to 60," Snapp says.
"And that spaghetti feed in Toledo?"
"On a hot Friday night without much notice!"
Cooper opens his calendar, turns back to January, when he'd just arrived in Columbus, then flips forward. Almost every hour of every day, clear to the Sept. 10 opener against Syracuse, is filled with appointments: Boy Scouts, booster clubs, the American Lung Association, banquets and barbecues in Cincinnati. Dayton, Akron, Sandusky, every little town from Lake Erie to Kentucky, from Indiana to Pennsylvania, every place that has a schoolboy prospect or an Elks Club that wants to hear the new ruler of Ohio football promise to slice the Wolverines into dog meat.
"I left Anaheim at midnight on December 30 after the Freedom Bowl, flew here, met the board of trustees when I arrived, announced to 500 people at a press conference at noon that I was the new coach and then started calling recruits," says Cooper. Within moments, he had persuaded star quarterback Kirk Herbstreit of Centerville to attend Ohio State, just by calling him on the phone.
"After that it was a hundred miles an hour, 24 hours a day," says the coach. "Didn't get back to Phoenix to pick up my things until January 12. Didn't stop to breathe until National Letter-of-Intent Day, February 10." During the season itself Cooper's days will be so filled with media and booster functions that, he says, on Thursdays he'll try real hard "to do a little coaching."
He looks at the photos on his walls, old ones from other schools. "I've bounced around chasing my dream," he says. "Which is right here. You can't get a better coaching job than this."
Maybe that's true; or maybe it's the worst. Bruce seemed to be in visible pain as he suffered through a 6-4-1 season last year, with people clamoring for his head before, during and after each game. Fans said Bruce was a bad offensive coach. They said he couldn't communicate. They said he was short and fat and looked bad in a suit. The administration, apparently, agreed.
If nothing else, the selection of Cooper as Bruce's successor was a calculated move away from the staid, sourpuss image Bruce projected. Cooper will talk to anybody, anytime, anywhere. "I loved John Cooper," says the Arizona State sports information director, Mark Brand, with genuine affection. "His door was always open. He was great with the media. Just fabulous."