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Thursday, April 19, 2012
Fickell: Arkansas assistants ready for storm

By Adam Rittenberg

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Paul Haynes and Taver Johnson were among the coaches entrusted to guide Ohio State through a storm 2011.

The last thing the two men could have expected at their next coaching stop was another tempest. And, in many ways, a more damaging one.

Haynes and Johnson are part of an Arkansas staff left to pick up the pieces from the Bobby Petrino scandal. Johnson, the Razorbacks' assistant head coach/linebackers coach, is in charge until a head coach is named, while Haynes serves as the Hogs' defensive coordinator after leaving Ohio State in December. Johnson had a chance to remain with Ohio State but left to join Hayes in Fayetteville.

Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, who served as the Buckeyes' head coach last season after Jim Tressel's departure, has been in touch with Haynes since the Petrino scandal broke.

"A very, very difficult situation," Fickell told ESPN.com on Thursday. "Different in a lot of ways, but similar in some ways, too. Everybody learned from last year, whether they were an administrator here, whether they were an intern, a defensive coordinator or a head coach, you learn a lot of different things, and it's going to help them in the long run."

Fickell and Haynes are close friends and remain in regular contact, as do their wives. Fickell hasn't spoken as often with Johnson, but he's confident the two men don't need his advice despite another difficult situation.

"Hell, they were here, they know what happened," Fickell said. "Now if the situation [at Arkansas] stays the way it is, before they start a season, I'm sure just like I had, they'll have an opportunity to communicate with some different people and pick some brains. Right now, they're probably just trying to keep the whole ship afloat."

Through some very choppy waters.