Kerry Coombs won’t return to Ohio State football coaching staff

NOTE: The departures of Coombs and linebacker coach Al Washington were confirmed when OSU announced the hirings of Tim Walton as secondary coach/cornerbacks coach and Perry Eliano as safety coach.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Kerry Coombs returned to the Ohio State football team, he brought back a spirited sideline presence, a proven track record in developing defensive backs and a long connection to the game. times with the state and the Buckeyes.

But when his game day responsibilities as defensive coordinator were axed two games into his second season, it precipitated the end of his second term. Lettermen Row first reported Thursday that Coombs will not return to the coaching staff in 2022, and several other confirmed reports.

Coombs’ contract, which paid him $1.4 million a year, is due to expire at the end of the month. Ohio State reportedly hired both Perry Eliano of Cincinnati and former OSU captain Tim Walton of the Jacksonville Jaguars as defensive coaches.

Coombs’ legacy as one of the Buckeyes’ best coaches remains secure. Every starter in his six-year tenure as a cornerbacks coach has reached the NFL. This included first-round picks Bradley Roby, Eli Apple, Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley and Denzel Ward.

However, his tenure as defensive coordinator fell short of expectations. Ryan Day retired Coombs’ call-in duties following the Sept. 11 home loss to Oregon. The demotion came after concerns over defending the 2020 National Championship runners-up season spilled over into the new season.

Ohio State finished 2020 ranked 122nd nationally in passing yards allowed. Next, Oregon rushed for 7.1 yards per carry, after Minnesota also broke big rushing plays in the season opener.

“When we made the adjustments to help in the passing game, it certainly wasn’t adjusted in the running game,” Day said in the days following the loss to Oregon. “A different problem, but the same result. Now we’re there, so we’re going to fix some things.

Coombs remained with the staff throughout the season, contributing to the game plan and moving to the press box on game days.

“I’m not going to tell you that I was tapping my heels and jumping for joy,” Coombs said in October. “That would be a lie. It would be dishonest.

“But I’ll tell you, I made a conscious decision every day, and even that day, to make sure I wasn’t going to paint this picture for everyone. Your guts may be upside down and upside down. But you don’t have to show it to everyone.

Ohio State hired Oklahoma State’s Jim Knowles as its new defensive coordinator in December.

Still, Coombs’ well-deserved reputation as an elite scout and developer of cornerback talent suggested he could still bolster Ohio State’s personnel — assuming he was interested in a lesser title. Coombs declined to comment on his future immediately after the Rose Bowl, saying only that he would appreciate the win.

Day hired Coombs, who had been the defensive backs coach for the Tennessee Titans, to succeed Jeff Hafley as defensive coordinator ahead of the 2020 season. It was Coombs’ first position as coordinator after his six-year stint as Urban Meyers cornerbacks coach and five years coaching defensive backs in Cincinnati. Prior to that, Coombs had a highly successful tenure at Colerain High School in Cincinnati.

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