Ohio State hires Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles

Ohio State has landed a new defensive coordinator.

Head coach Ryan Day said Tuesday that he has hired Jim Knowles from Oklahoma State to run the Buckeyes’ defense. Knowles will start Jan. 2 after Ohio State plays Utah in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.

OSU’s current 10 on-field assistant coaches will remain in their roles as the team prepares for and plays in the bowl game, Day said.

“What is most important at this time is that we put our players in the best position possible to finish this season with a win in the Rose Bowl,” Day said. “To that end, we will continue our planning and preparation for the game with our current staff of 10 assistant coaches.”

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For Knowles to slide into that defensive coordinator role, one of OSU’s 10 assistants will have to either be dismissed or moved into an off-field role. Kerry Coombs currently holds the title of defensive coordinator, but Coombs had his play-calling duties taken away after the Buckeyes lost to Oregon in Week 2. Secondary coach Matt Barnes called the defensive plays for the rest of the season.

Ohio State finished the regular season 10-2 with losses to Oregon and rival Michigan. In the loss to Michigan, the Buckeyes allowed the Wolverines to run for 297 yards and six touchdowns. That result gave Michigan the Big Ten East title. UM has since moved on to the College Football Playoff.

For his efforts this season in Stillwater, Knowles was a finalist for the Broyles Award, which is annually given to the top assistant coach in college football. Oklahoma State has one of the best defenses in the country, ranking first in sacks, third in total defense and fourth in yards allowed per play.

Oklahoma State lost to Baylor in the Big 12 title game. It was a loss that cost the Cowboys a possible CFP berth. Instead, they will play Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, also on New Year's Day.


Knowles has been at Oklahoma State since 2018. Before that, the Philadelphia native coached at Cornell, Western Michigan, Ole Miss and Duke. Knowles is a Cornell alum who spent six seasons as the head coach at his alma mater.

It's unclear if Knowles will coach Oklahoma State in its bowl game before heading to Columbus.