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Ohio State Secondary Coach Matt Barnes Focused On Rose Bowl, Not Future On Staff

The Buckeyes will have some changes on the staff following Saturday's game against the Utes.

Former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles will officially assume the same position at Ohio State on Jan. 2, which means at least one member of the current staff will have to depart the program or be demoted to a non-coaching position following Saturday’s Rose Bowl.

It’s unclear who all will be impacted by Knowles’ arrival, but two things are for certain: 1) Kerry Coombs will no longer be the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator, and 2) secondary coach Matt Barnes – who took over defensive play-calling duties following the loss to Oregon on Sept. 11 – will have to return to a lesser role if he remains on staff next season.

That could easily make things uncomfortable for the staff as it prepares for Utah, but Barnes doesn’t think that’s the case.

“I can see on the outside looking in where you might think that, but we’re all professionals,” Barnes said. “We all understand how this business works.

“Right now, I’m just trying to go win this game. If you’ve watched Utah on tape, you know how much work it’s going to take to try to get that done. Sometimes I can be obsessive, and I’ve really just obsessed about this game and trying to give our kids a great opportunity to go win it.”

After spending the last three seasons as Ohio State’s safeties/secondary coach and/or special teams coordinator, the 35-year-old Barnes is hopeful he’s part of head coach Ryan Day’s future plans for the program moving forward – especially after bouncing around for most of his coaching career.

“I love Ryan Day, I love Ohio State, I love Columbus, Ohio, and I love our players, so I’d certainly love an opportunity to remain here. It’s a wonderful place. I’ve enjoyed every moment that I’ve been here.

“I can’t imagine there are many head coaches to work for better than Ryan Day, and Columbus is an awesome place. It’s a great place. My wife and I love it here. (My son) loves it here. That’s what I can tell you.”

If Barnes remains in Columbus, he’ll get the change to learn from and work alongside one of the country’s best defensive coordinators. But if not, he knows the Buckeyes will be in good hands with Knowles.

“We had a very brief meeting. I could tell right away he’s an exceptionally talented and intelligent person, seems like a great guy," Barnes said. “Just as a film junkie myself, what little bit of Oklahoma State I had a chance to watch, it’s an exciting defense. He does an outstanding job. I’m excited for the future of our program defensively.


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