Darrell Hazell was going to be a head coach sooner rather than later. Luring Ohio State's assistant head coach to Kent State was a major coup for the Golden Flashes.
Hazell, 46, brings instant credibility to the KSU program. He's spent seven years learning under OSU coach Jim Tressel, who launched his career in the Mid-American Conference as an assistant at Akron, where he was a graduate assistant in 1975 and the receivers and running backs coach in 1976-78. Tressel gave Hazell his blessing.
Tressel's enthusiasm for Hazell seemed evident even in a routine statement released by Ohio State.
“I’m so excited for Darrell Hazell as he takes over as the head coach at Kent State<'' Tressel said. "He has certainly been a difference-maker at Ohio State. The Golden Flashes are starting a golden era led by Darrell Hazell. His Buckeye family wishes him every success.""
Hazell is personable, well-spoken and has a smile that lights up a room, which should serve him well in recruiting. He knows offense, always working on that side of the ball in his 23-year coaching career. He played in Ohio as a receiver at Muskingum, where he won All-America honors as a senior and served as team captain. He's coached standouts like Anthony Gonzalez, Ted Ginn Jr. and Santonio Holmes.
New KSU director of athletics Joel Nielsen has emphasized football since he arrived and seems to have found the perfect fit in Hazell. Just from my days covering the Buckeyes, Hazell seemed more ready for a challenge such as this than Ohio State's co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and more outgoing, a personality trait that will be necessary to change the football culture at Kent State, which hasn't been to a bowl game since 1972.
Kudos to Kent State for spending the money required to get Hazell. It seems to me like a worthwhile investment.