Ohio State is hiring Oklahoma State’s Jim Knowles as its next defensive coordinator, tasking him with shoring up a unit that struggled at various points this fall.
In a statement released Tuesday night, coach Ryan Day said Knowles had accepted the position and would take over as the defensive coordinator on Jan. 2.
The Buckeyes will continue with their current staff of assistant coaches through the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 before opening up a spot for Knowles to come aboard.
“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.
If Knowles is able to turn around the Buckeyes’ defense in the coming season, it won’t be his first rebuilding project.
He arrived at Oklahoma State in 2018 when the Cowboys had one of the worst defenses in the nation.
After ranking No. 112 in total defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision in his first season, incremental improvement followed.
They went up to No. 82 in 2019 and No. 44 in 2020 before their biggest breakthrough arrived.
Oklahoma State had one of the nation’s best defenses this fall, ranking No. 3 in total defense and No. 7 in scoring defense. The group allowed only 4.41 yards per play, an average that ranked No. 4. Only Georgia, Wisconsin and Cincinnati were more efficient on that side of the ball
The performance elevated Oklahoma State, a program mostly known for high-scoring offenses throughout Mike Gundy’s coaching tenure, into contention for a spot in the College Football Playoff deep into the season, rising as high as No. 5 in the second-to-last rankings.
A 21-16 loss to Baylor in the Big 12 championship game last Saturday dashed those playoff aspirations, but through no glaring fault of Knowles’ group that shut out the Bears in the second half and held them to a season-low 242 yards of offense.
Knowles was recognized for his effort when he was named one of the five finalists for the Broyles Award, which recognizes the top assistant in college football. Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis became the ultimate recipient earlier Tuesday.
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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State football hires Jim Knowles as defensive coordinator