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Kerry Coombs Leaves Cincinnati To Become Defensive Backs Coach For Urban Meyer At Ohio State

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So Kerry Coombs is moving up I-71 to become the defensive backs coach for Urban Meyer. The reason that Ohio State needed a DB coach in the first place is that Taver Johnson left Columbus for Arkansas in mid January. Two weeks after that Meyer tapped Bill Sheridan to take the DB coach position. Two weeks after that Sheridan took a spot on Greg Schiano's staff in Tampa Bay. Now, two weeks after that Coombs will be the third defensive backs coach at Ohio State in the span of 6 weeks.

To tell the truth I am not all that broken up about this. Coombs contribution to this program as an ambassador/mascot/insert other objective here can't be over stated. But as for his ability to do the jobs he was originally hired for I am kind of ambivalent.

As a first year defensive backs coach in 2007 he was gifted with a group of four players who got drafted into the NFL. Mike Mickens, DeAngelo Smith, Haruki Nakamura and Brandon Underwood.

*Underwood was on that team but had to sit out as a transfer from, oddly enough, Ohio State.

From a statistical perspective 2007 and 2008 were the best seasons.

YPA Completion % TD/INT Passes Defended Rating
2007 6.7 59.8 15/26 36 115.59
2008 6.1 56.1 18/17 18 112.30
2009 7.1 63.6 16/16 21 128.38
2010 7.6 64.9 25/8 19 146.60
2011 7.0 60.2 17/16 29 124.27

That is not unexpected having three NFL players roaming the secondary in both those years. The drop off from 2008 to 2009 isn't unexpected. Nor was it that disconcerting to me at the time. My issue with Coombs as a DB coach has always been that he didn't help his guys develop as quickly as they could. UC made a big jump from 2010 to 2011. But I don't know how much of the credit for the improvement goes to Coombs for his stewardship or the fact that literally everyone who played in 2010 came back in 2011 with experience.

The bottom line is that as a coach of defensive backs, which is what he was hired to do (that and recruit, more on that in a minute) I have never been impressed with Coombs. And I haven't exactly been shy about that either. He isn't a terrible coach, but he doesn't always get the most out of his players inherent abilities. Or to put it another way, it won't be that hard to find a DB coach of equivalent abilities, even on short notice.

And for the Ohio State fans who are bound to read this and take it as me being bitter about Coombs leaving and going out of my way to denigrate him. Save it. My issues with Coombs pre date this blog by some time and previously were expressed primarily via text and are therefore out in the ether somewhere.

As for Coombs recruiting, in the Brian Kelly era his ties to the Cincinnati community, and the state of Ohio in general were invaluable. However his contributions to recruiting have been somewhat lessened in the Jones era. Butch has made building pipelines in other area where the Bearcats weren't a presence previously. UC now recruits Tampa, Atlanta and Memphis very hard and have managed to make inroads to those cities in the last two classes. (Ralph Abernathy IV, Alex Chisum, Chris Moore, Bennie Coney, Alex Dale, Nate Cole...). Keep in mind that before the last two classes UC hadn't recruited in any of those cities. The Bearcat presense in those areas has nothing to do with Coombs.

What Coombs has opened up (and what I hope the staff will continue to exploit) is Indianapolis. UC now has a pipeline to Nap Town. And that is Coombs work for the most part, and he should be commended for it. But the days of Kelly using Coombs, and basically only Coombs, to compile classes are long gone.

Lastly for those worrying that losing Coombs will kill the Bearcats ability to recruit in the Cincinnati area. That's overstating things to a large extent. The Bearcats will still be able to hold their own in the city, and that won't change. For all the talk and bluster about putting a fence around I-275 it never happened. In five years at UC Coombs signed one** 4 star prospect (Chris Williams) from the Cincinnati area in Coombs five years with the Bearcats. One out of 17, that's not the greatest of strike rates.

** Alex Smith did commit to the Bearcats before flipping to Kentucky where he played a year and promptly fell off the face of the earth. Dominique Brown was committed to UC before flipping to Louisville before signing day.

I am not placing the blame for that on Coombs. There are a lot of factors involved that are far beyond the realm of his control starting with some seriously retrograde attitudes about UC among those at the most prominent of Cincinnati High Schools*** and ending with the simple fact that the perception of UC, for most people, gets better the further you get from Cincinnati. The old Mark Twain line fits in right here perfectly.

*** That's an easy one to figure out

So the struggles to attract top Cincinnati talent will remain after Coombs. Coombs has been a valuable recruiter for the Bearcats in his tenure here. But Kerry leaving won't stop UC from being able to attract talented Football players to come to Clifton.