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Report: Cincinnati Hiring Former Ohio State Defensive Coordinator Kerry Coombs

Coombs will serve as the Bearcats’ new cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator.

According to a report from ESPN’s Pete Thamel, Cincinnati is expected to hire former Ohio State defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs as its new cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator.

The 60-year-old Coombs began his career as a high school coach in the Cincinnati area, with stints as an assistant at Greenhills (now Winton Woods) and Lakota before being named the head coach at Loveland. He was most known for his time at Colerain, though, where he led the Cardinals to the 2004 state championship.

Coombs accepted an offer to become Cincinnati’s defensive backs coach in 2007, and the Bearcats led the nation with 26 interceptions in his first season with the program. He was subsequently promoted to associate head coach in 2009, where he remained until he was hired by former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer in 2012.

The Buckeyes produced five first-round draft picks at cornerback under Coombs’ direction, with every starter from 2012-17 ultimately reaching the NFL. He then spent two seasons with the Tennessee Titans before returning to Columbus as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator in 2020.

The defense struggled, however, allowing 25.8 points and 401.6 yards per game in his first season, 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 in 2021, 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.

That said, there was still mutual interest in Coombs returning next season as a position coach after the program hired Oklahoma State’s Jim Knowles as its new defensive coordinator. However, both sides ultimately felt it was best to go in different directions.

Coombs will now be reunited with Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell, who he worked under for five seasons when Fickell was Ohio State's co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2012-16. He replace Perry Eliano, who was named the Buckeyes' new safeties coach late last week.


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