New Kent State football coach Paul Haynes aims to keep stability in coaching staff

By Allen Moff | Staff Writer Published:

MOBILE, Ala. -- Paul Haynes is keeping his commitment to avoid dramatic changes within the Kent State football program.

The Golden Flashes' new football coach announced before Sunday's GoDaddy.com Bowl that current offensive coordinator Brian Rock will remain on the Kent State coaching staff along with defensive line coach Brian George, and possibly others.

Rock has played a key role in revamping the Flashes offense, which more than doubled its point production from last year (17.1 points in 2011 to 34.6 points in 2012) and increased its total yards from 254 to 391 per game. He has coached the quarterbacks and served as offensive coordinator since joining previous KSU head coach Darrell Hazell's original staff in January of 2011, following a three-year stint as the wide receivers coach at Purdue.

"Everybody knows I'm a defensive guy, so it was important to keep the offensive side the same," said Haynes. "If I bring in a new guy, that's when the current players start to think, what are we doing, are we changing offenses, what's the style going to be? Now that's not a question.

"Everybody starts at zero with a new coach, but they know the (offensive) style and the system is gonna be in place."

Haynes spent the weekend taking in the GoDaddy.com Bowl festivities along with his family and about 35 former KSU teammates, trying to avoid the temptation to coach.

"It's been tough," he smiled. "When I got on the bus (from the team hotel to the stadium), that's when I wanted to be on the other bus (with the KSU coaches) to get over their in the locker room. But like I said from the start, I want coach Hazell and his staff and his football team to finish this thing out the right way, without me being in the way or anything like that."

That all changes today, when Haynes will officially become Kent State's head coach while Hazell takes over the program at Purdue.

Haynes' first priority is to complete his coaching staff.

"I should have the staff complete by late next week," said Haynes. "I've got most of it done, I'm just waiting on a couple guys. I'll wait until the national (coaches) convention is over to announce it. We should have everybody together by Thursday or Friday.

"We'll actually get (the coaches that are already on board) together Tuesday for the first time and really just tackle recruiting. We'll get the (recruiting) board looked at, get the film looked at, add any new names to look at, just attack recruiting."

Haynes did have several chances to visit with Hazell over the weekend, and recruiting was a hot topic.

"I was just picking his brain a little bit on the thoughts he had on the future, mostly recruiting," said Haynes, who served on head coach Jim Tressel's Ohio State staff along with Hazell from 2005-10. "How many scholarships we have, what our needs are, that's really the basis of it."

Haynes also plans to visit with his players as soon as possible. One player in particular he will seek out is junior speedster Dri Archer, who is considering a jump to the NFL after his junior season.

"I don't have a sense (of what decision Archer will make)," said Haynes. "I have talked to him, and I plan on talking to him when I get back and just give my advice. Ultimately it comes down to him and his family's decision, but I will definitely get my two cents in as to what I think is best for him.

"Him not knowing me very well, I'm gonna reach out to a couple of people who do know him a little bit better and have them talk to him too."

Haynes obviously believes Archer should stay at Kent State for his senior season, and has big plans for his speedster.

"He has to touch the ball a lot for us, and that's what I told him when I talked to him," Haynes said. "It can't just be kickoffs. We have to find creative ways to get the ball in his hands, and not just jet sweeps. He's too good a player to not have the ball in his hands."

If the Flashes are to build on this year's success, Archer and the 2013 senior class will have to lead the charge according to Haynes.

"Our team is gonna be as good as our senior class," said Haynes, "so those are the guys I'm gonna embrace first."

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