Off Tackle Empire: The Best Big Ten Basketball Coaches of the 00s Decade, The 1900's That Is... (No. 2: Louis Cooke, Gophers)


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Nov 11, 2008
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No. 2: Louis Cooke (Minnesota Golden Gophers)​

Coached from 1898-1924. Record during the decade: 119-34 (24-18 in conference play), 2 conference titles (1906, 1907 shared), 1902 Helms National Champion, 1902 and 1903 Premo-Porretta National Champion.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Cooke won the inaugural Big Ten championship and shared the title the following year as well. Although not playing basketball in the Big Ten at the time, Cooke and the 1902 Minnesota Gophers squad was retroactively award the 1902 Helms Foundation National Championship. As we all know, the Helms Foundation National Championships definitely count equally to the NCAA tournament championships of today. Some enlightened individuals might even say they are worth six times as much. Both the 1902 and 1903 went undefeated and in additional to the Helms Foundation natty for the ‘02 squad, the Premo-Porretta Power Poll retroactively awarded the Gophers the national title for both of those years as well (Helms chose the 15-1 Yale Bulldogs as the ‘03 champ).

Cooke was the first basketball coach in Minnesota Gophers history. When not serving as basketball coach, Cooke was a Professor of Physical Education (yes, he was a P.E. teacher) and worked as the athletic director or assistant athletic director for Minnesota for a long time. It was in his role as athletic director that Cooke came into possession of the Little Brown Jug and refused to return it to the Wolverines.

Cooke’s all time records and accomplishments will have to hold off until a future article as he wasn’t done being one of the best coaches in the conference at the close of the nineteen aughts.

Go Gophers!!

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