Normally when an assistant coach leaves a program, there is a sense of loss pretty much only on the football side of life. Most of the time, the coaches are quickly forgotten by the fan base as life moves on.
With Kerry Coombs leaving Ohio State, however, it’s different.
When Urban Meyer came to OSU, one of the requirements for each member of his coaching staff was to coach and recruit like “their hair was on fire,” and Kerry Coombs epitomized that aggressive prerequisite perfectly.
Coombs came to Ohio State during Meyer’s inaugural season in 2012, and since then he has been a part of 73 wins, two Big Ten Titles, a National Championship, and six victories against That Team Up North.
As the cornerbacks coach in that time, he has churned out top NFL draft picks like Bradley Roby, Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, and Marshon Lattimore. Off the field, he was a tireless and effective recruiter while maintaining the respect of his fellow coaches. When you look at his resume, going to the NFL seems like a no-brainer, but at the same time, when you are reminded of his loyalty and love for the Buckeyes, this is also a shock.
I have known of coach Coombs since I was a kid. I grew up in Cincinnati and of course knew the name of Kerry Coombs and his feared Colerain Cardinals. My dad did the chains for a local high school where I was able to stand on the sidelines and watch the game up close. So every other year, they would play Colerain. I would be standing on the Colerain sidelines witnessing Coombs jumping and screaming with amazing energy and anger. The score would be 31-7 with two minutes left and he would still demand perfection in the most intense way possible. I’m not going to lie, he scared me as an 11-year-old. It was also there where I learned how to cuss.
Fast forward many years later as he still jumps and screams with the same amazing energy and anger, this time in front of 100,000 people. That’s the best part. His charisma wasn’t an act or forced jubilation. It was genuine. He handled himself the same way he did when he was coaching high school kids in front of 400 people.
In a way, he was kind of a caricature of what you imagine a football coach to act like and we loved him for it. No matter how cold, he would always have on his signature white golf shirt. No matter how small the play, he would be the first to jump into the arms of his defender. A fixture of the Meyer Era, he became the gold standard on how to coach and recruit like “your hair was on fire.”
Honestly when I saw the news, I was more sad to be losing Coombs the person more than the football coach. I wish him nothing but the best in the NFL.
And as a treat, here is what Kerry Coombs was like when he was recruiting — a man on fire with a passion for The Ohio State University.