COLUMBUS — Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington said he regrets that his candidacy to become the defensive coordinator at Tennessee became so public in February.
Ultimately, the Columbus native said the timing was not right to make the jump. The 35 year old wants to be a defensive coordinator and head coach, and he believes Ohio State can help him reach those goals.
“I feel like timing is important,” Washington said. “I’m fortunate to be able to use that as a factor in the equation, like I don’t have to jump at anything. And I’m not saying Tennessee’s that. It’s a great place. Great program. Great tradition.
“I just felt for me, personally, it was the best decision for me right now. To be where I’m at, I feel confident making that decision and will put me in position when that time comes.”
Washington said he was “extremely disappointed and frustrated” that his Tennessee interest became widely known. So was OSU coach Ryan Day, who said last week he “didn’t really appreciate the fact that it was public.”
Day, however, also said the reason he brought Washington to Ohio State was to help him someday become a coordinator and coach. He remains committed to that process.
“I love Al — always have,” Day said. “Al and I go back a long, long ways. He’s like a brother to me. And I always want Al to have great opportunities. That’s why he came back here.”
So why did Washington turn down what was reported to be a significant raise and a major career advancement to remain with the Buckeyes? Ohio State has not announced a corresponding raise or title bump for Washington, though both may have been factors.
Washington also has deep Ohio State connections since his father, Al Washington Sr., played linebacker for the Buckeyes from 1977-80. His children are building relationships with their grandparents and that has a palpable value.
Washington also spoke of the chance to continue working under Day, who he called “an elite person to mold yourself after because of his habits and the way he lives his life.”
He is also eager to continue working with the now-senior group of linebackers who have been forced to wait their turn behind last season’s leaders. He wants to see how the story unfolds for Dallas Gant, Teradja Mitchell and K’Vaughn Pope now that they have an opportunity.
Gant and Mitchell said they were not surprised Washington had such an enticing opportunity to leave, though they are glad he did not accept it.
“Personally I think he’s the best linebacker coach in the country,” Mitchell sad. “Obviously those opportunities will arise at the end of the season.
“I’m glad he’s sticking around. He definitely elevated our unit.”