Ryan Day continues to assemble his inaugural Ohio State coaching staff, and Thursdayâ€™s move saw Day once again capitalize to snag a young, up-and-coming coach with both ties to the Deep South and That Team Up North.
So who, exactly, is Matt Barnes and what does he bring to the talent-laden table for the Buckeyes?
Hereâ€™s â€œFive Things To Know About Matt Barnes:â€
Matt Barnes is an all-three-phases coach
A former standout NCAA Division III player, Barnes has blue-collar coaching roots that featured multiple stops at the lower levels of college football and work in all three phases — including a role as an offensive coordinator.
During his 2011 season as offensive coordinator for the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats, Barnesâ€™ offense averaged a robust 37.5 points per game as the team engineered an 9-2 campaign that featured a last-game loss for the conference championship that denied a playoff bid.Â The offense scored 34 or more points in eight of the 11 games.
As a graduate assistant to D.J. Durkin at Florida for three seasons, Barnes had a large role in the Gatorsâ€™ special teams units — setting the foundation for his role at Maryland and now at Ohio State.
Additionally, Barnes had served as the Terpsâ€™ linebackers coach for three-straight years from 2016-18, which were his first three seasons as a full-time assistant at the Football Bowls Subdivision level.
Maryland had tackling machines under Matt Barnes
Barnesâ€™ linebackers corps with the Terps consistently shined on stop-units that overall had issues holding up across the seasons.
Linebacker Tre Watson earned first-team All-Big Ten honors last season with 114 total tackles and five interceptions. The senior linebacker tallied 281 tackles in three seasons under Barnes, and Watson was a second-team All-America selection. And Barnes worked directly with Jermaine Carter as he became one of the most productive defenders in the Big Ten and an eventual fifth-round NFL Draft pick.
“Matt is young coach who has really done a great job at Maryland,â€ Day said in a school release. â€œHeâ€™s an energy guy who has considerable knowledge of the Big Ten Conference plus experience coaching in the Southeastern Conference. Heâ€™s going to work well with our staff and Iâ€™m pleased to have him on board.â€
Just Missed Urban, Worked For Harbaugh
As D.J. Durkinâ€™s hand-picked staffer to accompany Durkin to Florida in 2012, Barnes, a Maryland native, served three seasons as a graduate assistant and worked with both the defensive and special teams units — just a few years after Urban Meyer had departed Gainesville and at the time Meyer arrived in Columbus.
Eventually, their paths would cross in the Big Ten. When Durkin became Jim Harbaughâ€™s defensive coordinator at Michigan in 2015, Durkin again tabbed Barnes as his guy to also make the move.
The Wolverinesâ€™ defensive unit in 2015 closed the season as the nationâ€™s 11th-best scoring defense and fourth overall group in yards allowed per game.
Finalist For â€˜The Draddyâ€™
After beginning his playing career at Georgetown and then transferring to Salisbury, Barnes became a finalist for the 2008 Draddy Trophy, since renamed to the William V. Campbell Trophy, and the only major trophy presented by the National Football Foundation that is selected from a group of candidates across all levels of collegiate football — FBS, FCS, Division III and NAIA.
Barnes was a team captain for the SeaGulls and finished his career with nearly 200 tackles.
Predicted He Would Coach Major College Ball, NFL Tie
According to a 2016 profile on Barnes by Mitchell Northam for The Daily Times of Salisbury, Barnes had told his college coach, Sherman Wood, he would be a major college coach.
â€œHe told me one day he was going to coach at a big program, like Notre Dame or something. â€¦ Looking back, it doesnâ€™t surprise me at all because he had that vision. He was a natural leader with a football brain,â€ Wood told the paper.
One of the NFLâ€™s 32 head coaches shares Barnesâ€™ alma mater. Atlanta Falconsâ€™ head coach Dan Quinn also is a graduate of Salisbury, where Quinn played for the SeaGulls from 1990-93.