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Report: Ohio State Targeting Oklahoma State’s Jim Knowles As Next Defensive Coordinator

The Cowboys’ defense was among the nation’s best in several statistical categories this fall.

According to a report from Lettermen Row’s Austin Ward, Ohio State is targeting Oklahoma State’s Jim Knowles to be its next defensive coordinator.

“Multiple sources outside of the program in coaching circles believe the Oklahoma State assistant has already agreed to a deal in principle with the Buckeyes,” Ward said.

Under Knowles’ direction, the Cowboys’ defense led the nation in sacks (55), was second in third-down defense (26.1 percent conversion rate), third in total defense (278.4 yards per game) and fifth in rushing defense (92.1 yards per game).

Knowles – who has been with Oklahoma State since 2018 – was named a finalist for the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach after leading the program to an appearance in the Big XII title game and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl, where they’ll play Notre Dame.

Of course, Ohio State doesn’t currently have a vacancy at defensive coordinator, a position that’s been held by Kerry Coombs for the last two seasons. He was stripped of his play-calling duties following the loss to Oregon in September, and further changes have been expected since the Buckeyes lost the season finale at Michigan.

“Multiple sources inside the Woody (Hayes Athletic Center) have indicated that nothing official has been confirmed, which is notable because Ohio State would likely need to make a corresponding move to make room for a new hire and wasn’t intending to do so before the early signing day this month,” Ward said.

Other schools targeting Knowles – who has also spent time as the head coach at Cornell from 2004-09 and the defensive coordinator at Duke from 2010-17 – include Florida and Penn State, while Oklahoma State is aiming to retain his services, as well.

“I am fairly certain that he’ll be coaching here next year,” Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy recently said. “I don’t know, I mean, the Green Bay Packers may offer him $3 million. I can’t say for sure, but within reason, I’m very, very certain that he’ll be coaching here next year.”

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