Fickell’s First Coaching Changes Involve Tressel
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Luke Fickell accepted the head coaching job at Ohio State in the wake of Jim Tressel’s resignation, one of his first moves was to start working on former teammate and roommate Mike Vrabel.
Fickell eventually pulled Vrabel right out of an NFL locker room and put him on the OSU coaching staff as the new linebackers coach. That replaced one part of Fickell’s former duties as an assistant under Tressel.
Thursday Fickell filled his other role by promoting safeties coach Paul Haynes to the role of co-defensive coordinator.
“Paul Haynes is an exceptional coach who has worked extremely hard for this football program,” Fickell said in a statement.
“He deserves to take on a greater role with our defense alongside coordinator Jim Heacock.”
Fickell had served as Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator since 2005, when Heacock was promoted to the head coordinator job following the departure of Mark Snyder, who took the head coaching job at Marshall.
Haynes, who grew up in Columbus and graduated from DeSales, is in his seventh season at Ohio State. He has coached on the defensive side of the ball during all 14 of his collegiate seasons as an assistant coach.
Last season he coached Ohio State’s kick coverage teams, but those duties will now transfer to running backs coach Dick Tressel, the newly designation special steams coordinator.
“I felt it was important to get Doc (Tressel) more involved in all aspects of our special teams,” Fickell said.
“He has so much experience, and he brings so much knowledge to the field every day, that I really wanted him to be responsible for coordinating our special teams efforts.”
Tressel, who is the older brother of former head coach Jim Tressel, was a head coach for 23 seasons at Hamline University in Minnesota. He has served as Ohio State’s running backs coach for the last eight seasons, but this will be his first as the special teams coordinator.
The last time Ohio State had a designated special teams coordinator was 2002-03 when they hired Fickell away from Akron, where he was coaching the defensive line. Since 2003, the Buckeyes have delegated different special teams duties to different assistants.
While Haynes coached the coverage teams a year ago, former receivers coach Darrell Hazell was in charge of the return game.
With the consolidation of those jobs into one role, Fickell is hoping to shore up what was a shaky special teams a year ago. The Buckeyes allowed two kickoffs to be returned for touchdowns and had a number of other close calls.
Other Staff Moves
Ohio State also promoted two other key individuals with the football program. Amy Burgess is now the director of internal operations, and former program assistant Tom Dunlap has been named the team's associate director of football operations.
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