Kent State University Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen introduced Paul Haynes as the Golden Flashes’ 21st head football coach at an afternoon news conference held Dec. 18.
Haynes returns to his alma mater 25 years after he walked on to play football at Kent State as a college freshman. He replaces Darrell Hazell, who resigned Dec. 5 after two seasons to become the head coach at Purdue University.
“I am very excited to welcome Paul back to the Kent State family,” Nielsen said. “During our search for a new head coach, I was looking for someone who had the qualities that could carry on the recent success of the football program. Those qualities include leadership, a genuine interest in our student-athletes, integrity and an understanding of Kent State and the Mid-American Conference. Ohio recruiting ties were also very important. Paul hits on every one of those areas. In hiring Paul, we are also making a significant investment in the head coaching position here at Kent State.”
Haynes’ contract is being finalized. It will be released shortly.
“This has been a whirlwind, and I can’t begin to describe my excitement about the opportunity to come back to Kent State as head coach,” Haynes said. “Being a former player and assistant coach here, and now coming back at a time where there is so much pride around the football program and the university, it is unbelievable. My family and I are excited about coming back to Ohio. I’m looking forward to getting involved with the players and embracing the Kent State alumni.”
Haynes, 43, spent last season as the defensive coordinator at the University of Arkansas. He also served as the secondary coach for the Razorbacks. Haynes joined the Arkansas staff in December 2011, taking over the Razorbacks’ defense when it dominated No. 11 Kansas State 29-16 in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
Haynes spent the previous seven seasons at Ohio State University, serving as the co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach in 2011 and as defensive backs coach from 2005-10. Of note, Haynes and Hazell worked together on Jim Tressel’s Ohio State staff from 2005-10.
In Haynes’ seven years in Columbus, the Buckeyes compiled a 66-11 record, won six Big Ten titles and played in six consecutive BCS games. Ohio State defensive backs also boasted five first-team All-Americans and 10 first-team All-Big Ten selections in those seasons. Nine of the defensive backs Haynes coached at Ohio State were selected in the 2006-12 NFL Drafts, including first rounders Donte Whitner and Malcom Jenkins.
The 2012 season at Arkansas was Haynes’ third stint on a John L. Smith coaching staff. He also worked under Smith at Michigan State University, serving as defensive backs coach from 2003-04, and at the University of Louisville, as defensive backs coach in 2002.
This is Haynes’ second homecoming at Kent State. He spent two seasons as an assistant coach under former Golden Flashes head coach Dean Pees, who is now the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. After coaching Kent State’s defensive backs in 1999, Haynes was promoted to assistant head coach and safeties coach in 2000. Haynes then moved on to the NFL in 2001, spending one season as the defensive quality control coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Haynes’ coaching career also includes stops at the University of Northern Iowa (running backs and secondary, 1997-98), Ferris State University (defensive backs, 1995-96), Bowling Green State University (graduate assistant, 1994) and St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus (assistant coach, 1993).
Known as “Ice” during his playing days, Haynes walked on at Kent State in the fall of 1987 and went on to play four years for the Golden Flashes. As a freshman, he led the team in interceptions during Kent State’s 7-4 season under Glen Mason. As a sophomore, Haynes led the team with 116 tackles. After missing the 1989 campaign with a knee injury, he started his final two years and ended his career with 440 tackles, a total that ranks seventh in Kent State history.
Prior to enrolling at Kent State, Haynes earned three letters in football at St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus, including one during the team’s 1985 state championship season. He also made OHSAA state tournament appearances in both basketball and track, earning four track letters and two basketball monograms.
Haynes was born on July 11, 1969. He and his wife, Danita, who graduated from Florida A&M University with an education degree, have three children: daughters Jordyn and Kennedy Rose and son Tarron.
For more information, visit the Kent State Athletics web site.