Fickell Shuffles Staff Slightly

Two Ohio State football assistants received new titles with head coach Luke Fickell on the verge of beginning his first round of preseason practice.

Two Ohio State football coaches received new job titles and duties in moves announced less than a week before the Buckeyes are set to begin preseason practice.

Paul Haynes was promoted to co-defensive coordinator while Dick Tressel became special teams coordinator.

Haynes, who will continue coaching safeties as well, assumes the title Luke Fickell held for the past six seasons before his elevation to head coach in the wake of Jim Tressel's forced retirement earlier this year.

A Columbus native, Haynes is entering his sixth season on the Ohio State staff and his 16th year in the coaching profession. After attending DeSales High School, he played football at Kent State. "Paul Haynes is an exceptional coach who has worked extremely hard for this football program," Fickell said. "He deserves to take on a greater role with our defense alongside coordinator Jim Heacock."

Tressel, who is the older brother of the Buckeyes' former head coach, will continue as running backs coach, a position he has held since 2004. The Berea, Ohio, native first came to Ohio State in 2001 as associate director of football operations.

"I felt it was important to get (Dick Tressel) more involved in all aspects of our special teams," Fickell said. "He has so much experience, and he brings so much knowledge to the field every day, that I really wanted him to be responsible for coordinating our special teams efforts."

Tressel is a 35-year veteran of the coaching profession, a career that includes 23 seasons as head coach at Division III Hamline University in Minnesota.

"I've been coaching for a long time and every season is exciting, but getting more and more involved in special teams makes the excitement for this season even greater," he said. "We won't change the responsibilities that each coach has had, other than I'll take over the punt unit from Luke, but there will be an added level of attention and emphasis from me in all areas." 

Fickell was special teams coordinator in 2003 and '04 before receiving a promotion to co-defensive coordinator under Heacock. Special teams coaching duties had been shared ever since.

Special teams were long considered a pet project for Jim Tressel, but the coverage units were something of a sore spot the past two seasons.

The Buckeyes allowed two kickoffs to be returned for touchdowns in 2010 and finished 61st in the nation in average kickoff return yards allowed (21.4).

The punt unit also allowed a touchdown return and finished 90th in average return yards allowed (10.5). A blocked punt in the final minutes of the Sugar Bowl in January nearly cost the Buckeyes a win over Arkansas as well. Ohio State was ninth in the Big Ten and 94th nationally in net punting (34.3-yard average).

On the flip side, the kickoff return unit led the Big Ten with a 26.4-yard average that was good for fourth nationally, and the punt return finished a respectable 39th in the country and third in the conference with a 9.6-yard average.

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