Kent Tabs Tressel Assistant

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Last updated: 12/18/2012 11:25 AM

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Football
Kent State Tabs Another Tressel Assistant As Head Coach
By Brandon Castel

Darrell Hazell’s stay at Kent State may have been short and sweet, but the Golden Flashes wasted no time in tabbing his replacement. They have reportedly hand-picked another Jim Tressel protégé, and why not? It worked so well with Hazell the first time around that he landed the head-coaching job at Purdue after just two seasons at Kent.

Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen is hoping he will get a few more years out of Paul Haynes, a former Ohio State assistant who coached alongside Hazell in Columbus from 2005-10.

“Paul is a good guy. I really like him. I don't want to put the cart before the horse, but he can relate well with the kids, if he does get hired,” Hazell told the Cleveland Plain Dealer this week.

“He'll bring some of the same things that we do now with him. Obviously, he's an alum. He's a really good guy.”

The Buckeyes went 12-1 in 2010, their only losing coming against J.J. Watt and the Wisconsin Badgers up in Madison. The Buckeyes beat Michigan 37-7 in Rich Rodriguez’ final regular season game with the Wolverines, then went down to New Orleans and took care of Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

By then, the world knew about the mistakes committed by Terrelle Pryor and a few of his teammates. The world also knew Hazell was going to be the next head coach at Kent State. He continued to serve in his role as wide receivers coach and assistant head coach under Tressel through the bowl game, but that would be his last with the Buckeyes.

It might have been interesting to see what would have happened if Hazell had still been on the staff when Ohio State forced Tressel to resign the next spring. As assistant head coach – a position now held by safeties coach Everett Withers – Hazell would have likely been the guy to replace Tressel as interim head coach for the 2011 season, not Luke Fickell.

That doesn’t mean Hazell would have don’t a better job with the team – there was a lot going on beyond what the head coach could control –  but it’s obvious now that Hazell was ready to lead a group of young men in to battle on the gridiron. His seemingly has the perfect blend of military toughness and a smile that warms the room, two things the Buckeyes probably could have used a little bit of last season.

Instead, Fickell was promoted to interim head coach and Haynes, the team’s safeties coach, was promoted to co-defensive coordinator under Jim Heacock. That would last just one season, however, as he was not expected to be retained when Urban Meyer took over the program last November.

We will never know, because Haynes was hired by Bobby Petrino to coach the defense down at Arkansas. Maybe he saw something he really liked in that OSU defense that held Ryan Mallett and his offense to 26 points in the Sugar Bowl.

Haynes took OSU cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson, someone Meyer was planning to retain, with him to Fayetteville and it only seems natural that Johnson will also join him at Kent State – especially considering the fact he was one of the primary recruiters in Cleveland for both Tressel and Fickell.

In Haynes, the Golden Flashes are getting an alumnus of Kent State University, and a former player who embodies what college sports is all about. A graduate of DeSales High School in Columbus, Haynes walked on at Kent State University in the fall of 1987 and went on to play four years of football for the Golden Flashes.

As a freshman, he led the team in interceptions. As a sophomore, he led the team with 116 tackles. After missing the 1989 campaign with a knee injury, he started his final two years and wound up his career as the seventh leading tackler in Kent State history with 440 stops, despite the fact he played for three different head coaches.

Haynes also served as Kent State’s secondary coach and assistant head coach under Dean Pees from 1999-2000. He left his alma mater to take a quality control job in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He would also coach the defensive backs at Louisville and Michigan State before taking the job under Tressel back in 2005.

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