When Paul Haynes got into coaching nearly 20 years ago, one of his primary goals was to one day be the head coach at Kent State. That box was officially checked off on Tuesday.
"It's going to take a while to grasp that I'm the head coach at Kent State," said Haynes.
As an alum, an Ohio native and a coach with experience at three separate in-state schools, Haynes brings more credibility than a typical coach when he says he wants his program to be a credit to the community.
"I want to graduate all players with a meaningful degree. I want to win. I want this program to be a positive impact on this university, this community and this state."
Haynes also has a unique perspective to what his players are going through right now, noting that he went through three coaching changes a player at Kent State. But, according to Haynes, those changes happened after 1-10 campaigns, not 11-2 seasons.
"I was in their shoes, I wore these colors," he explained. "I went through three coaches, so I know they're sitting there wondering who I am."
Taking over an 11-2 team presents a different set of challenges than a 1-10 bunch, but Haynes is prepared.
"We're going to talk about our goals, we're going to reset our goals and we're going to move forward," he said.
As far as assistants go, Haynes has yet to make any decisions.
"I will not hire anyone until I talk with the previous staff and give them a chance to interview," said Haynes. "The job that they've done here, the respect that I have for them, I think I owe it to them to talk with them first."
More than anything else, Haynes preached a sense of togetherness for his program. "When we win, we all win. I mean the team, the university and the community. We'll do this together here in Kent."