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Linebackers coach Al Washington will be staying at Ohio State, per report

Washington was the prime target of Tennessee to be their new defensive coordinator, but Ryan Day was able to convince the linebackers coach to stay with the Buckeyes.

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Ohio State’s coaching staff has been shuffled a little bit recently after co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison retired, which led to Kerry Coombs being elevated to defensive coordinator. The defensive coaching staff dodged a bullet when it was announced earlier today that linebackers coach Al Washington would be staying in Columbus. Washington had recently been the target of new Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel, who was eyeing Washington to be the new defensive coordinator of the Volunteers.

Washington joined the Ohio State coaching staff after the 2018 season. Prior to coming to Columbus, Washington spent a year on Luke Fickell’s staff at Cincinnati as defensive line coach in 2017 before moving on to Michigan to become the linebackers coach for the Wolverines in 2018.

Tennessee certainly made Washington think hard about taking to talents to Knoxville, as the Volunteers reportedly offered Washington $1.5 million per season to become their defensive coordinator. While it was originally thought that Washington was close to accepting Tennessee’s offer, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day was able to convince Washington to return to Ohio State for his third season on the coach staff. Not only will Washington likely receive a substantial pay raise to stay at Ohio State, he’ll also likely see a new title added to his position of linebackers coach.

Even though Washington has only been in Columbus for two seasons, he has made a huge impact during his time with the Buckeyes. Washington not only helped to resurrect the career of Baron Browning last season, he did all he could to maximize the talents of Tuf Borland and Pete Werner in 2020. The linebackers coach will further get to display his talents in 2021, as he’ll have to work with a number of new starters at linebacker. Expect players like Teradja Mitchell, Kourt Williams, and Dallas Gant to all be in the mix for a significant bump in playing time.

Not only will Ohio State have Al Washington returning as linebackers coach this year, Ryan Day beefed up the defensive coaching staff with the announcement of the addition of Paul Rhoads as a defensive analyst. Rhoads will be returning to Columbus, where he was a graduate assistant under John Cooper in 1991.

The peak of Rhoads’ coaching career came from 2009-15 when he was the head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones. During his time in Ames, Rhoads was 32-55, with his best season coming in his first year with the Cyclones, leading Iowa State to a 7-6 record with a win in the Insight Bowl. Since then, Rhoads has served as a defensive coordinator with Arkansas, defensive backs coach at UCLA, and most recently as defensive coordinator with Arizona.

While Nick Saban has made coaching staff analysts a new trend, as he has turned Alabama into a “rehab” for former head coaches, this is the first notable name that Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has hired as an analyst. The difference between Rhoads being an assistant and an analyst is he’ll be able to assist Ohio State’s on-field coaches with scouting opponents and game planning, but he won’t be able to be involved with coaching players on the field.

After using co-defensive coordinators over the last few years, Ryan Day changed up his strategy a little bit when he announced Kerry Coombs would be the only defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes this year following the retirement of Greg Mattison. The addition of Rhoads will help to support Coombs, who will certainly have a lot on his plate as he looks to put his stamp on an Ohio State defense that was inconsistent in a shortened 2020 season.