Bahn: Haynes' Reputation As 'Grinder,' Talent Developer Fit Petrino's Razorback Staff

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 2:02 pm  

Arkansas introduced new defensive coordinator Paul Haynes on Tuesday. (Photo by ArkansasRazorbacks.com)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

But this wasn’t a hire based solely on one year together in Jacksonville and a few nice plugs from mutual friends. Petrino sold Haynes as a guy who will be valuable to the program for other reasons as well.

Petrino liked what he knew of Haynes’ ability to relate and communicate with players. Communication seemed to be a missing ingredient the last four years, and former defensive coordinator Willy Robinson admitted as much on multiple occasions.

Haynes, who recruited Florida and Georgia for the Buckeyes, came across in his introductory press conference as a guy who can communicate his thoughts clearly. That’s a must when dealing with college players, who have a lot on their minds outside of learning and executing schemes.

Sometime during their four-hour conversation in Columbus, Ohio, Haynes must have heard Petrino express his thoughts on defensive simplicity, because that was a theme Haynes hit hard during Monday’s press conference. It isn’t what he knows, but what the players know, Haynes said.

Haynes has a track record for developing defensive backs and getting them into the NFL. He had eight drafted while at Ohio State, which is worth noting among all the facts and figures the UA released as part of its bio on the newest hire.

Petrino has consistently won by developing lesser regarded talent. He did it at Louisville and seems to be doing it at Arkansas as well. Haynes fits the profile as a guy who does that.

If there’s one area where Haynes’ history is a bit of mystery and worthy of some skepticism it’s in regard to calling plays. He said he’s called third-down plays throughout his time with the Buckeyes and seems a full-time defensive coordinator position as being a natural step up in his career.

Does Haynes have the same acumen (and will the head coach provide the same leeway) as feared and revered defensive coordinators currently in the SEC? Time will tell.

Whatever pressure is associated with helping the Razorbacks eclipse the 10-win plateau of the last two regular seasons should tell us something else about Haynes: He’s not afraid of a challenge.

“We are not sitting there trying to be average,” Haynes said. “Our goal is to be the best defense in the country. That’s what we’re going to work on. And at the end of the year you can only go by the wins and losses, you can go by the defensive stats. We definitely want to be in the Top 5 in every category on defense.”

Perhaps Haynes and Petrino will realize their vision for the defense. There’s just a lot of grinding to be done before it’s a reality.

 

 

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