KENT - Kent State football coach Darrell Hazell has a long-standing relationship with Jon Heacock. The two crossed paths at Muskingum College during their respective playing days in the early 1980s.
Hazell and Heacock have stayed in touch during their respective coaching careers.
When Hazell left Ohio State after seven seasons as an assistant coach to become the KSU coach prior to the 2011 season, he knew right way who would be his defensive coordinator - Heacock.
Heacock was taking some time off after being Youngstown State's coach from 2001-09.
"I had a chance to put a staff together. I thought about the guys I had known for a long time, that I've been around, guys that I trust, know that do a great job," Hazell said. "I knew he was available. It was very fortunate for us, for Kent State, for me, at the time that I could call him up and ask him to join the staff."
KSU's defense boasts a unified front against the run. The Golden Flashes (9-1, 6-0 Mid-American Conference East Division) have allowed an average of 136.2 yards in 10 games.
"They do a good job of emphasizing stopping the run," Hazell said. "Our guys fly to the ball when the ball is handed off. They put great schemes in week in and week out to stop the run. I think think our kids executed it well."
Heacock said the defense is successful because the players are devoted to the program and each other.
"It's because of the people that we have," Heacock said. "We've been able to put them in spots to have success. It's all about people. I've always believe that you win with people.
"I think the other side of that is Woody Hayes says you win with people. You win with people that care about other people. I think that's what our team does. They care about each other."
One person, in particular, that has meant a lot to Heacock and Hazell is former YSU and OSU coach Jim Tressel.
"There's a lot of things I've got from coach Tress," Hazell said. "He's been my mentor. He's got a lot of wisdom. He's shared that with so many people. That what makes him a special guy. I know there are some things that sound like Tress. He's a spectacular man and a spectacular coach."
"Coach has meant a lot to myself and my family," Heacock said. "He's always been there as a coach and as a friend and taught us a lot. I've been blessed. I've been around a lot of folks that have taught me a lot. All the stuff that I do has come from everybody that I've worked with. It's been a real positive."
KSU junior safety and Poland native Luke Wollet said having Heacock has been an asset to the Golden Flashes.
"Coach Heacock is a great coach and a great mentor to us," Wollet said. "He does a great job helping us grow as players and as men. He takes the little things we do very serious. Not only how can you get better on the field, but how you can keep growing."