Our View: Haynes is the right man to lead Kent State

Kent State fans were disheartened last Friday to watch the Flashes’ season sputter out in a 20-0 loss to rival Akron, capping another disappointing season in the team’s record books.

The Flashes finished with just two conference wins and seemingly gave up against a clearly superior Zips team, but rash decisions and bold coaching moves won’t hurt the Flashes’ chances to become a winning team again like in 2012—they’ll just hurt the program.

Flashes coach Paul Haynes said the Akron game would come down to execution, which is also the biggest thing he’s preached since his three-year tenure began of Kent State. But execution failed Friday, and it has pretty much failed all year long. Some students, alumni or fans began calling for a change at head coach on social media.

There’s really no indication that Kent State and Haynes could part ways, but we’d like to address the speculation by saying that Haynes should have at least one more season to correct the team’s problems.

Haynes—who signed a 5 ½ year contract worth $375,000 a year in 2012—flashed potential as a defensive-minded coach the team needs to slow down some of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) stalwarts. At one point, the Flashes defense was among the best in both the conference and, statistically, the country. A few of the players, such as sophomore cornerback Demetrius Monday or junior defensive end Terence Waugh, were posting statistics that ranked among the best in the country. The offense, so renowned for being abysmal, even had a few good games, particularly in their 45-13 drubbing of Delaware State.  

However, Haynes and his team are by no means perfect: Beyond the underwhelming 10-26 record he’s posted as the head coach, the offense ranked last in the conference this season and his defense fizzled out to finish ninth in total defense.

But Haynes should have at least one more chance to fix a team that’s been mired in losing records for decades. He understands the program better than any potential candidate for the job would, anyway, as he was both a player and assistant coach here before he signed back on as head coach.

Although his team steadily declined as the season wore on (the Flashes lost five straight games to end the season), they also showed promise at a variety of different positions. Both Monday and Waugh will be back, plus the team returns all of their leading offensive players, most of whom are freshmen that should improve with another year of maturation in the program. The MAC is getting better as a whole and the Flashes need to get better with it, but Haynes, who has established a relationship with the team’s key players who he’s recruited, is the best bet to help the Flashes stay on the right path.