Paul Haynes is half of Michigan State football’s replacement for former co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Harlon Barnett, who left the program to become defensive coordinator at Florida State under Willie Taggart.
He’ll coach the secondary, while Mike Tressel was promoted from co-defensive coordinator to the team’s sole defensive coordinator.
The job is a homecoming for Haynes, who spent the last five seasons as the head coach at Kent State, where he had a 14-45 record. Haynes previously served as Michigan State’s defensive backs coach in the 2004 and 2005 seasons. He was on the staff at Ohio State and Arkansas before he took the head coaching job with Kent State ahead of the 2013 season.
“It’s awesome. A lot of memories here,” he said Friday. “I haven’t had a chance to drive around, but it’s fun to see the improvements that they’ve made. But it’s just fun to be back. A lot of memories here. My daughter was born in Sparrow [Hospital]. I actually proposed to my wife at the Kellogg Center. So there’s a lot of memories, and my family’s excited to get back.”
“I’m very, very excited about Paul,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said Friday, per MLive’s Matt Wenzel. “He’s coached here before, so he’s got a Spartan background. He’s been a secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State, coached on the highest level in the secondary. He’s been a head coach and I think that gives him a big-picture feel. I think he’s an excellent recruiter. … I think he’s a dynamic person as well.”
Michigan State finished the 2017 season at 10-3, a huge reversal following a 3-9 finish in 2016. Haynes is still joining a different staff than the one he left in 2005. Michigan State is expected to compete for a Big Ten title next season.
“I don’t know my way around here,” Haynes said. “Before it was just one big square. All I remember, I remember that old high school trophy we used to sit there and have in the front when it was just one big square. They’ve done an unbelievable job.
“It’s a different Michigan State team than in 2003, 2004. The expectations are totally different. You can feel it. When my son left here, that was the first thing he said getting around the kids as these kids kind of exude championships. That’s a feeling that these kids have, that they want to go win a championship.”