Paul Haynes let go as Kent State football coach


Kent State coach Paul Haynes rings the victory bell after a 17-14 win against Miami (OH) Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.

When Paul Haynes was hired as the Kent State football coach in 2012, he said it was a dream job to return to his alma mater.

After five seasons of serving as the Flashes’ head coach, the Haynes era is over, as the university announced Wednesday that Haynes’ contract would not be renewed.

Haynes — Kent State’s head coach from 2012-2017 — was let go less than 24 hours after the team’s 24-14 loss to rival Akron.

“Making a coaching change is never easy,” Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen said in a statment. “As an alum, Paul gave his all for this university and to Golden Flashes football and moved the program forward in many ways. We thank Paul and his family for their service and commitment to Kent State student-athletes.”

Kent State finished with a 2-10 record this season.

Haynes amassed a record of 14-45 during his time at the helm for the Flashes, including a 9-30 record in conference play.

The Flashes’ two wins this season have come against FCS opponent Howard and Miami (OH) on Homecoming.

Haynes attended Kent State from 1987-1991 and walked on to the football team, where he finished his career as a three-year letterman with 440 career tackles. After that, Haynes went on to put together a lengthy coaching career prior to his time with the Flashes.

Haynes previously served as the defense coordinator at Ohio State and Arkansas, and he also had stops at Michigan State, Louisville, Northern Iowa, Ferris State and Bowling Green. Haynes also served one year in the National Football League as a defensive control coach for the Jaguars.

The Flashes have had just two winning seasons in the past 30 years.

After the Flashes’ loss to the Zips, Haynes referenced the troubled past of the Kent State football program.

“It’s a program that’s been down for a long time,” Haynes said. “It’s going to take some time to get back to being a good program. We have to continue to do things the right way. We are talking about 80 years of bad football, not two. It just takes time to keep plugging away and keep going.”

Haynes’ best year came in 2013 when the Flashes finished 4-8 (3-5 MAC). The season prior, the Flashes finished one of their best seasons in recent memory, going 11-3 and earning a berth in the Bowl.

Injuries became a recurring theme during Haynes’ time in Kent, with the Flashes losing five quarterbacks to season-ending injuries over the past two years alone.

Whoever takes over the head coaching job for the Flashes will have to fill the holes left by the 15 members of the graduating class but will also have the opportunity to work with some young talent.

Sophomore running back Justin Rankin will highlight the team next season. He led the team in rushing yards (490) and was second on the team in receiving yards (311). He also accounted for five out of the Flashes’ 18 total touchdowns.

The university announced that a national search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

Henry Palattella is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].

Scott Lendak is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].