Ron Cooper, with nine years of head coaching experience at the collegiate level, is in his third season with the Tigers as LSU’s defensive backs coach.
Cooper has been responsible for overseeing perhaps the nation’s top secondary in 2011 as the Tigers feature two national award winners in Morris Claiborne (Thorpe Award) and Tyrann Mathieu (Bednarik Award). Claiborne (SEC Coaches) and Mathieu (AP) each picked up SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2011. It’s the second straight year that LSU has featured the Thorpe and Bednarik Award winners along with the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Patrick Peterson claimed all three honors in 2010 before being taken with the fifth overall pick in the NFL Draft.
As a unit, LSU’s secondary accounted for 16 interceptions, nine fumble recoveries and 12 forced fumbles as the Tigers led the nation in turnover margin (+1.69) and ranked fifth in total interceptions with 18. LSU allowed just seven passing touchdowns all season, the fewest by a Tiger team since limiting opponents to only five in 1989.
In his first two years with the Tigers, Cooper’s expertise coaching the secondary was evident as LSU had one of the best defensive backfields in the country. Last year, LSU led the SEC and ranked 10th in the nation in pass defense allowing 169.8 yards per game.
Cooper’s first year at LSU saw Peterson earn second team All-America honors, while safety Chad Jones was picked in the third round of the NFL Draft.
Cooper joined the LSU staff from South Carolina where he spent five years coaching on the defensive side of the football. As South Carolina’s safeties coach in 2008, Cooper assisted with a defense that ranked No. 1 in the SEC and No. 2 in the nation in pass defense allowing just 160 yards per game.
In addition to his role as safeties coach in 2008, Cooper’s other responsibilities during his stay at South Carolina included coaching the defensive backs in 2004, serving as the outside linebackers and special teams coordinator in 2005, and holding the position of secondary coach and assistant head coach in 2006 and 2007.
Prior to his stay in South Carolina, Cooper spent the 2003 season as the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State and 2002 as the secondary coach at Wisconsin.
Cooper broke into the head coaching ranks in 1993 when Eastern Michigan hired the Huntsville, Ala., native. Cooper spent two seasons at Eastern Michigan, going 4-7 in 1993 and 5-6 in 1994.
Following two years at Eastern Michigan, Cooper was appointed as the head coach at Louisville, a position he held for three years from 1995-97. During his three years with the Cardinals, Cooper posted a 13-20 record, which included two wins over Kentucky and a victory over Michigan State.
Cooper’s 1995 Louisville team led the nation in turnovers forced and finished No. 9 in the nation in scoring defense. A year later, Louisville ranked No. 4 in the country in both total defense and rushing defense.
Alabama A&M hired Cooper as its head coach in 1998, a position he held through the 2001 season. Cooper guided Alabama A&M to the championship game of the Southwestern Athletic Conference in 2000. His 2000 squad led the nation in rushing defense and they ranked No. 8 nationally in scoring defense. Cooper posted a combined record of 22-23 in four years at Alabama A&M, which included a 6-5 mark in 1999 and a 7-5 record in 2000.
Prior to becoming a head coach at Eastern Michigan, Cooper served as an assistant coach at Notre Dame, helping the Irish to victories in the 1992 Sugar Bowl over No. 3 Florida and in the Cotton Bowl a year later against No. 4 Texas A&M.
Other coaching stops for Cooper include serving as the defensive coordinator at UNLV in 1990; assistant coach at East Carolina in 1989; defensive coordinator at Murray State in 1987-88; assistant coach at Austin Peay from 1985-86; graduate assistant at Minnesota in 1984 and a graduate assistant at Appalachian State in 1983.
Cooper has coached in eight bowl games during his collegiate career, including appearances in the 2009 Outback Bowl, the 2006 Liberty Bowl and the 2005 Independence Bowl with South Carolina.
On the field, Cooper was a four-year letterwinner at Jacksonville (Ala.) State where he was a part of two Gulf South Conference championships in 1981 and 1982. Cooper also played in the NCAA Division II playoffs three times during his career, reaching the semifinal round in 1982.
Cooper earned his bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville State in 1983 and later received his master’s degree from Appalachian State in 1986.
Cooper and his wife, Djuna, have a daughter, Tyler, and two sons, Tristan and Ronald, Jr.
The Ron Cooper File
Year at LSU: Third (appointed Jan. 6, 2009)
Birthdate: Feb. 11, 1962 in Huntsville, Ala.
Children: Tristan, Tyler, Ronald, Jr.
College: Jacksonville State, ’83
1978-82 Jacksonville State
1983 Appalachian State (graduate assistant)
1984 Minnesota (graduate assistant)
1985-86 Austin Peay (assistant coach)
1987-88 Murray State (defensive coordinator)
1989 East Carolina (assistant coach)
1990 UNLV (defensive coordinator)
1991-92 Notre Dame (assistant coach)
1993-94 Eastern Michigan (head coach)
1995-97 Louisville (head coach)
1998-2001 Alabama A&M (head coach)
2002 Wisconsin (assistant coach)
2003 Mississippi State (defensive coordinator)
2004-08 South Carolina (defensive backs, 2004; outside linebackers/special teams coordinator, 2005; secondary/assistant head coach, 2006-07; safeties, 2008)
2009-11 LSU (secondary)
Year Bowl Team Opponent Results
1992 Sugar Notre Dame Florida W, 39-28
1993 Cotton Notre Dame Texas A&M W, 28-3
2002 Alamo Wisconsin Colorado W, 31-28
2005 Independence South Carolina Missouri L, 38-31
2006 Liberty South Carolina Houston W, 44-36
2009 Outback South Carolina Iowa L, 31-10
2010 Capital One LSU Penn State L, 19-17
2011 Cotton LSU Texas A&M W, 41-24