Morning Constitutional: What Is Jeff Hafley Bringing to the College Game?

Ohio State Buckeyes football defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley

Today’s Topic: What Is Jeff Hafley Bringing to the College Game?

When Ryan Day hired Jeff Hafley as his co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach last month, most Buckeye fans were probably asking, “Who?”

Hafley wasn’t known in the college game, as he has spent the past seven years in the NFL coaching defensive backs.

Day knew Hafley, of course, having worked with him in San Francisco with the 49ers.

And as Day showed over his first two seasons at Ohio State, the NFL is a pretty good proving ground for college coaches.

One of the things that Ryan Day said about his own time in the NFL is that all you have is time. The players’ union has limited the amount of hours that players can do football activities, but the only limits for coaches are physical.

During his time in the NFL, Day studied quarterbacks and offenses, and it made him a better coach. He brought back plays, plans, lessons, and insight, so it isn’t a surprise he went to the NFL looking for the same kind of thing on the defensive side of the ball.

When asked asked what he wants to bring to the college game, Jeff Hafley’s answer was right in Ryan Day’s wheelhouse.

“It’s a good question, too,” Hafley said. “The biggest thing is if you look at it, for the last seven years I’ve coached 140 games, right, so I’ve gotten ready for 140 games in seven years. In the off-season there’s no recruiting, so today instead of doing this, I’d be in my office just studying tape all day in the offseason. The players can’t even be in until April, so every off-season for seven years I studied tape and I learned, and I feel like that education, that knowledge — I’ve had some scars. I’ve gotten beat on things by trial and error, but I think that has really allowed me to become a better football coach.”

Hafley will still have to get back into stride as a recruiter, and if Day had any doubts about those abilities, he would have never been hired.

Confident in Hafley’s ability to land recruits, Day went out and hired a coach who has spent his time preparing for this opportunity while also learning some of the best lessons in the sport.

“I think the best thing that ever happened to me was I had the opportunity to go to the National Football League and just study football for seven years,” Hafley said. “Because now I feel like I’ve seen a lot, and I think that will help.”

4 Responses

  1. The question is can he teach fundamentals and proper angles. Unlike the NFL, Hafley not inherits the keys to DBU and has top notch talent and there’s basically only one direction for him to move. Sounds good being that long in the NFL.

  2. That may well cover 1/2 of the equation, but being able to impart that to young kids as opposed to NFL vets is another matter. He’s indicated he’s willing to learn (why the Buckeyes rotate corners), so imo he should go learn from the guy who innovated that – Kerry Coombs. When he came here Everett Withers was recommended too, but his style didn’t work at all in Columbus. This COULD be a situation like that or it could be bringing the DBs back to Coombs-level quality. Will be interesting to watch and learn. 😉

    1. Excellent suggestion that he talk with Coombs. Can’t argue with that guy’s success in developing star defensive backs at the college level. Also, Coombs probably has some instructive observations about the difference between coaching college and NFL players.

    2. You should watch the full interview that this story was generated from, it’s worthwhile. Hafley mentions that if you put in the work and perform, they’ll find a role for you, that in essence is why Ohio State has rotated corners.

      In fact, in the interview he talks about how he has interviewed OSU corners for the draft and he asked them why they rotate and they told him, because the guy coming up behind me is a first round pick too!!

      As far as recruiting; he’s pumped. He speaks about how in the NFL as a secondary coach it’s rare that he gets to draft a 1st rounder for his secondary. At Ohio State he can conceivably be out there selecting a couple potential 1st rounders in every single class. That has him excited.


Comments are closed.