It’s not Bill O’Brien, but Penn State has lost a prominent member of its coaching staff.
Defensive coordinator Ted Roof left Penn State on Wednesday for the same position with Georgia Tech. John Butler, the Nittany Lions’ secondary coach, was promoted to defensive coordinator.
O’Brien, who put to rest rumors of a departure from Penn State to the NFL earlier in the week, said in a statement that he was “very appreciative” of what Roof did for Penn State. O’Brien was an assistant with Roof at Georgia Tech before the two coached together at Penn State for the past year.
“Ted is a great coach and person,” O’Brien said in the statement. “He earned the respect of our players and they enjoyed playing for him. We wish Ted and his family well.”
Roof joined Penn State’s staff last January after O’Brien was named head coach. With the 49-year-old on the sideline for the 2012 season, the team was 16th in the country in scoring defense (19.1), had 22 takeaways and allowed 353.4 yards per contest.
A native of the Peach State, Roof played football at Georgia Tech in the 1980s and coached at the school from 1998-2001. As noted earlier, Roof has previously coached the Ramblin’ Wreck as he spent four campaigns as an assistant in Atlanta and served as the team’s defensive coordinator for three of those seasons.
Roof also took over the Duke football program in 2003, but the team struggled, and he had a 6-45 record with the Blue Devils.
The Duke gig was Roof’s only collegiate head coaching job, but he’s also been an assistant at multiple schools, including Auburn. The Tigers won the national championship in the 2010 season with Roof as its defensive coordinator.
“I’ve known Ted for a long time and I’m excited that he has decided to come back to Georgia Tech,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said in a press release. “He’s one of the most respected football coaches in the nation.”
Butler, who came to Penn State last January as well, worked with the team’s defensive backs last season but will now fill the void left by Roof. Prior to coming to Happy Valley, Butler held coaching positions at South Carolina, Minnesota, Harvard, Texas State and Midwestern State.
Under Butler’s tutelage, cornerback Stephon Morris was fifth on the team with 60 tackles, while sophomore Adrian Amos led the Lions’ defensive backs with two interceptions in the 2012 campaign.
Butler also worked with Penn State’s special teams unit for the season, and O’Brien said he thinks his leap to defensive coordinator will go smoothly.
“John did an outstanding job with the secondary this past season and brings tremendous experience, energy and a passion for tenacious defense to the field and in the meeting room,” O’Brien said in the statement.
“John quickly developed a great relationship with all our players on defense and special teams and his ability to teach and relate to the players on and off the field will greatly assist in making this an easy transition.”