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Assistant Coach Kerry Coombs Will Not Return To Ohio State’s Staff In 2022

Coombs has a reputation as a great recruiter but the Buckeyes' defense struggled under his direction.

As part of sweeping changes on the defensive side of the ball, BuckeyesNow has learned that Ohio State will not retain former defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs.

The 60-year-old Coombs just finished the second season of his second stint with the Buckeyes and there was mutual interest in him returning next year as a position coach after the program hired Oklahoma State’s Jim Knowles as its new defensive coordinator.

However, the reported hiring of Cincinnati’s Perry Eliano as the new safeties coach and Jacksonville Jaguars' secondary coach Tim Walton as the new cornerbacks coach ended any hope of that happening.

Coombs, who was previously the Buckeyes’ cornerbacks coach from 2012-17, rejoined the Ohio State staff in 2020 after a two-year stint with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. He replaced former defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who retired after the 2019 season.

The defense struggled under Coombs’ direction, however, allowing 25.8 points and 401.6 yards per game, the worst metrics in school history. That includes surrendering 621 yards of total offense in a 52-24 loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Things were slightly better this season, as the Buckeyes gave up 22.8 points and 372.6 yards per game but improvement only came after Coombs was relieved of his play-calling duties followings Ohio State’s 35-28 loss to Oregon back on Sept. 11. Matt Barnes, who has since been named the defensive coordinator at Memphis, called the plays for the remainder of the season.

The energetic Coombs has developed a reputation as one of the country’s best recruiters and has developed a number of first-round draft picks at cornerback during his nine seasons in Columbus. But with the Buckeyes coming up short of winning the Big Ten and reaching the playoff this season, head coach Ryan Day felt that changes needed to be made.

Coombs will join at least Barnes and former offensive line coach Greg Studrawa as coaches who will not return from last season's staff. Linebackers coach Al Washington is not expected to, either, as Knowles is set to coach that position himself. 

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