Kent State University Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen introduced Paul Haynes as the Golden Flashes' 21st head football coach at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
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.
"I am very excited to welcome Paul back to the Kent State family," said Nielsen. "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," said Haynes. "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 excitedabout coming back to Ohio. I'm looking forward to getting involved with theplayers and embracing the Kent State alumni."
Haynes, 43, spent last season as the defensive coordinator at 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, 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 Haynescoached 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, serving as defensive backs coach from 2003-04, and at 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 headcoach 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 Northern Iowa (running backs and secondary, 1997-98), Ferris State (defensive backs, 1995-96), Bowling Green (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 hisfinal 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 infootball 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 with an education degree, have three children: daughters Jordyn and Kennedy Rose and son Tarron.
What they are saying about Paul Haynes:
"It is an exciting day for all of Northeast Ohio as Paul Haynes returns to his alma mater to lead the Golden Flashes to even greater heights. Paul and Danita Haynes will be difference makers at the university and in the community. I am so proud of Paul and look forward to his future."
Ohio State head coach, 2001-2010
"Kent State made a great decision. It is getting not only a great coach but a great family. The university community is just going to love Paul and his family. Paul's coaching ability speaks for itself. I knew when I hired him to begin with at Louisville, it was going to be hard to hang on to him. That's the kind of coach I have always wanted to hire. I want the guys everyone else is going to want. That happened with Paul. We went to Michigan State and then he moved on to Ohio State, but thank goodness we were able to reunite this year. Being with him again this year, it just spoke volumes about how committed he is to the job and to the kids he is coaching. If I were in Kent State's shoes, I would have done the same thing and hired Paul. I can't say enough good things about him."
John L. Smith
Arkansas head coach, 2012
Michigan State head coach, 2003-06
Louisville head coach, 1998-2002
"Paul will do a good job in really relating with the players and getting the most out of the players. I think he'll be a special guy because he'll bring some of the same ideals that were taught here before. He'll take care of the players."
Kent State head coach, 2011-12
"Congratulations to Paul and to Kent State. Joel Nielsen picked a great candidate. The thing about Paul is he just loves Kent State. He worked extremely hard for me and was very dedicated and very loyal to the school. You are never going to find a harder working guy than Paul. Players will love him because he is demanding and fair. He also knows a lot about the history of Kent State, and that is going to be a tremendous plus. I followed every game Kent State played this year. Darrell Hazell did a wonderful job and I couldn't be happier for the school. Paul is a great hire to keep it going."
Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator
Kent State head coach, 1998-2003
"Kent State and Joel Nielsen hit a home run with Paul Haynes. It is always great whenever you bring in someone who not only worked at the university, but played there as well. Coach Haynes obviously has both attributes. A lot of great coaches go back to their alma mater and are very successful. I know coach Haynes will be the same. He is a great teacher and he also cares about young men. He has worked for some top notch coaches like Jim Tressel. I think coach Haynes is the perfect choice to lead this program and continue the success it had this past season under Darrell Hazell."
Notre Dame assistant coach
Kent State safety, 1999-2002