Fired Ohio State assistant Coombs joins Fickell at Cincinnati

Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NETWORK

CINCINNATI — Fired Ohio State defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs will be the new special teams/cornerbacks coach at Cincinnati, joining the staff of longtime friend and former colleague Luke Fickell.

Fickell announced the hiring of the 60-year-old Coombs on Tuesday. He replaces Perry Eliano, the Bearcats’ cornerbacks coach who left to coach safeties at Ohio State.

Coombs is a native of Cincinnati who was a longtime high school football coach in the city before initially working on the Bearcats staff in 2007-11. He and Fickell were defensive assistants on Urban Meyer‘s Ohio State staff from 2012 to 2017, including the 2014 national championship team.

“Kerry has had tremendous success everywhere he has been at the high school, college and professional levels because he’s an exceptional motivator and teacher of the game,” Fickell said. “Coaching with him, I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact Kerry can have on a program.”

Ohio State coach Ryan Day brought Coombs back to the college ranks from the Tennessee Titans staff in 2020 to be the defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes. But the unit never lived up to Day’s vision, and Coombs was demoted as the defensive play caller after the No. 6 Buckeyes gave up 505 yards in a 35-28 loss to No. 12 Oregon last Sept. 11.

Cincinnati advanced to the College Football Playoff in 2021, while Ohio State had another poor defensive showing in losing to Michigan, which kept the Buckeyes outside the final four for the first time in three seasons.

Day replaced Coombs after the season with Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles.

Fickell previously promoted former Bearcats quarterbacks coach Gino Guidugli to offensive coordinator replacing Mike Denbrock, who took over the same job at LSU. With that move, wide receivers coach Mike Brown took on the title of passing game coordinator.

Safeties coach Colin Hitschler was promoted to co-defensive coordinator, and Walter Stewart was hired away from Temple to coach linebackers.

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.