State of the Hogs: The Haynes Hire

John Cooper thinks Arkansas did well with the hire of Paul Haynes as defensive coordinator. Cooper liked what he saw from Haynes at Ohio State.

A good day for John Cooper is hauling grand kids in the morning, golf middle of the day and an afternoon watching football practice at Ohio State.

That's been the schedule for the retired Ohio State coach for the better part of a decade. That's why I called Cooper, an old friend, to get the scouting report on new Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Haynes.

"You got a good one," Cooper said. "I've been watching him coach. He's very good. He's a good person, very well thought of here in the community and on campus.

"This makes me excited to have another team to follow. I'll be pulling for the Razorbacks."

Cooper was a defensive back in college and started his career as a secondary coach. He always takes an interest in defensive backfield technique and fundamentals. He believes the Buckeyes were well taught in the seven years they were under Haynes.

"Luke Fickell played for me and started his coaching career as a graduate assistant under me," Cooper said. "I hired Jim Heacock on my staff and he's been defensive coordinator for a long time here. Both Luke and Jim have always thought a lot of Paul.

"Jim and Luke did a lot of the calls through the years, but of late they brought Paul into it. They did the game planning as a group. You are talking about a veteran coach in Jim and he thought enough of Paul to give him responsibility in making the plans and the calls. It was a group deal between them."

Cooper thinks that's the kind of training that prepares Haynes to be a top defensive coordinator in the SEC.

"Paul has worked with good people and good coaches," Cooper said. "Jim Heacock and Luke Fickell are my best friends. They've been good on defense at Ohio State for a long time.

"Paul's had good players and that goes back to recruiting, but you have to teach them fundamentals and technique and he did.

"I'd watch him in practice and he's good. He preaches technique. They are always very sound in the secondary. They don't give up big plays, tackle well and are not out of position."

Cooper is proud of the defensive reputation at Ohio State. He said it's been that way for the better part of two decades.

"They call the defense at Ohio State the Silver Bullet," he said. "They have 11 flying to the ball. That's the concept I started when I was coach here and it's exactly the same now. They were young on defense this year, but they were still good. They were consistent. When you have young players and they are still consistent, it means they are getting coached well in practice.

"I have to be honest, I hate to see Paul leave here. He was good for our school. He's a hard worker and a good coach."

Specifically, Cooper said what Haynes coached well was "pursuit and angles in the secondary. I had a lot of fun watching his secondary practice. I'd go out there and see them work on pursuit drills. They got people to the ball and did it with the right angles. That's a big part of playing the secondary. As an old coach, that was fun to watch as they practiced."

Cooper talks with pride about all of those defensive coaches.

"You bet there is pride concerning those guys," Cooper said. "They are running my system. Luke learned it and it's about teaching technique and fundamentals. I think you will see that Paul can help his new staff in special teams. He was always heavily involved in that aspect."

Haynes has a reputation for being intense and aggressive in practice. He called himself a "get after it type" in his introductory press conference earlier this week.

"Oh, yeah," Cooper said. "You aren't going to see him standing with his arms folded. He's going to get after his players. No, he won't be standing around. He's loud and you will hear him.

"I thought he was very aggressive in the way he taught all aspects. Aggressive is the right word.

"Matter of fact, I thought the way Ohio State played defense this year in the back end kinda fit his nature. I thought this year with some younger players that they were more aggressive in their calls and played more man-to-man.

"This was a defense that didn't have the kind of linebacker play that perhaps we've had of late like the A.J. Hawks, so maybe they had to become more aggressive and they did that. They were solid and fun to watch."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories