Kerry Coombs Out at Ohio State After Two Years As Defensive Coordinator

By Griffin Strom on January 13, 2022 at 1:38 pm
Kerry Coombs

Kerry Coombs' second stint on the Ohio State coaching staff has come to an end.

After two years as the Buckeyes' defensive coordinator, and eight years total in the program, Coombs will not be back on the Ohio State staff in 2022, Ohio State confirmed Friday.

Coombs confirmed his departure from the Buckeyes and thanked Ohio State fans in a Twitter post on Saturday.

Ohio State hired former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles to take over in the position on Dec. 7, but Coombs remained on staff through the Buckeyes' Rose Bowl win on Jan. 1. Coombs’ exit from the program is now official, however, after the Buckeyes also Cincinnati cornerbacks coach Perry Eliano and Jacksonville Jaguars cornerbacks coach Tim Walton as their new secondary coaches. 

Coombs was Ohio State's defensive coordinator in title only after the Buckeyes' Week 2 loss to Oregon, which marked the third straight game dating back to last year's national championship loss in which the Buckeye defense had given up at least 31 points to its opponent.

Following the 35-28 loss to the Ducks, secondary coach Matt Barnes was given play calling duties for the Ohio State defense, and Coombs was moved from his usual post on the field to the press box.

The Buckeye defense appeared to make improvements after the switch, which also saw Ohio State transition into more of a 4-2-5 base alignment, as the group gave up just 15.9 points per game from Game 3 through Game 11. But defensive struggles doomed Ohio State in a 42-27 loss to Michigan in the regular season finale, and the Buckeyes gave up 45 points to Utah in a Rose Bowl win to close out the season.

Barnes was hired by Memphis as the program's new defensive coordinator following the Buckeye bowl game, but Coombs' future with Ohio State was uncertain until now.

Coombs’ contract was set to expire at the end of January.

In Coombs' first stint with the Buckeyes from 2012 through 2017, which saw him coach cornerbacks and special teams before becoming an assistant defensive coordinator, every starting cornerback on the team reached the NFL.

Coombs was the secondary coach for the Tennessee Titans under head coach Mike Vrabel in 2018 and 2019, but returned to Ohio State to take on the role of defensive coordinator following the departure of co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Jeff Hafley.

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