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The Oklahoman

'He got what he earned': Ohio State set to hire Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles

By Scott Wright, Oklahoman,


STILLWATER — Jim Knowles was wearing an orange tie on stage in Arkansas on Tuesday afternoon, but before dusk, he had swapped it for scarlet.

Knowles, who spent the past four seasons as Oklahoma State’s defensive coordinator, was hired to the same spot by Ohio State coach Ryan Day, the university announced Tuesday evening.

“I have offered a position on the Ohio State football staff to Oklahoma State University defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and he has accepted it,” Day said in a press release.

“Starting Jan. 2, Knowles will be the Buckeyes’ new defensive coordinator. 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. To that end, we will continue our planning and preparation for the game with our current staff of 10 assistant coaches.”

Earlier in the day Tuesday, Knowles was in Little Rock, Arkansas, for the announcement of the Broyles Award, given to college football’s top assistant coach. Knowles was one of five finalists for the award, which went to Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis.

Knowles, 56, saluted Oklahoma State faithful — from school president Kayse Shrum to coach Mike Gundy to the fans — in his opening remarks prior to the announcement of the award winner.

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“Let me start by thanking president Shrum, our athletic director Chad Weiberg, Coach Gundy, all the fans, alumni and supporters who proudly wear America’s brightest orange,” Knowles said. “They’re loyal and true. Go Pokes. I’m proud to represent you.”

Day’s defensive staff was in flux following the in-season demotion of Kerry Coombs after two games. Coombs remained the defensive coordinator in title, but was relieved of his play-calling duties.

Knowles led a monumental turnaround of Oklahoma State’s defense in his four seasons, rising to third nationally in total defense, allowing 278.4 yards per game this season. His defense was the biggest reason for OSU’s 11-2 record, berth in the Big 12 title game and eventual invitation to the Fiesta Bowl.

It was not immediately known on Tuesday how Gundy would manage his staff, or who would hold the defensive coordinator position for the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame on Jan. 1.

Gundy had been vocal in recent weeks about the desire to keep Knowles in Stillwater.

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According to, Oklahoma State had offered him a five-year contract worth $1.3 million per year. He was currently making $800,000 a year with the Cowboys.

“I am fairly certain that he’ll be coaching here next year,” Gundy said on Nov. 29. “The Green Bay Packers may offer him $3 million. I can’t say for sure.

“But within reason, I’m very, very certain that he’ll be coaching here next year.”

Cowboy players took to Twitter to voice their frustration in not being able to keep Knowles in Stillwater, along with sending their well-wishes to Knowles on his new journey.

“Although I hate to seem him go, I’m happy I got to spend my first year with (Knowles),” Oklahoma State freshman defensive end Collin Oliver tweeted. “He taught me so much I never knew. Extremely excited for my coach. He got what he earned.”

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