Bob Shoop's tenure as Penn State's defensive coordinator is over. The now-former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator is headed to Knoxville where he will accept the same position at the University of Tennessee. The news was announced in a press release by Tennessee Athletics.
"We are very excited about the addition of Bob Shoop to our coaching staff," Jones said. "Bob has established himself as one of the premier coordinators in all of college football and is very well-respected as a recruiter, football coach and person. He brings a wealth of experience at the highest level and possesses all the qualities we were looking for as we went through this process. He has directed units that have finished in the Top 25 nationally in each of the last five years and he will do a great job of developing our players on the defensive side of the ball."
"I would like to thank Mr. Hart and Coach Jones for giving me this opportunity," Shoop said. "I also want to thank Coach Franklin, the Penn State players and coaches and the Penn State community for an incredible two seasons. This was not an easy decision and one that I didn’t take lightly. Over the last 24 hours I had an opportunity with meet with Coach Jones and his staff. It became evident to me that he is building a great program, a program on the rise and certainly one that will compete for an SEC Championship. I’m looking forward to becoming a part of the team."
Shoop came to Happy Valley along with James Franklin in January of 2014. Prior to that, was the defensive coordinator under Franklin at Vanderbilt from 2011-13, and the defensive coordinator at William & Mary from 2007-10. He also had experience as a head coach, as he went 7-23 during a three year spell at the helm of Columbia University.
Under Shoop, Penn State's defense turned into one of the most feared units in the country. After the school had an uncharacteristically subpar defense in 2013, Shoop came in, made some adjustments – most notably moving Anthony Zettel to defensive tackle and sliding Mike Hull to inside linebacker – turned the aggressiveness of the defense up to 11, and ended up having one of the best units in all of college football. In Shoop's first year, Penn State was tops in the country in rushing defense, second in total defense, eighth in scoring defense, and 11th in passing defense. After a lengthy flirtation with LSU over its vacant defensive coordinator position, Shoop got a raise and decided to stay in Happy Valley.
Penn State took a step back in 2015 in terms of production – ninth in passing defense, 15th in total defense, 30th in scoring defense, and 43rd in rushing defense – but when you remember that the starting defense was remarkably unlucky with regards to injuries, it was still an admirable job by Shoop. Once the regular season ended, he reportedly turned down an offer from Auburn for the same position.
Tennessee's defensive coordinator job opened up on Wednesday after Vols head coach Butch Jones parted ways with John Jancek. Shoop's name came up as a possible replacement right when the firing occurred, but there was never anything more than speculation. That all changed on Friday, when Shoop was announced as the Vols' new defensive coordinator.
While we don't want to speculate on replacements, there is a potential option on Penn State's staff right now. Brent Pry, Penn State's highly-regarded linebackers coach and assistant head coach, acted as Shoop's co-defensive coordinator. If Franklin chooses to promote from within, he already has an outstanding option on his staff.
While it sucks to lose a coach the caliber of Shoop, we'd like to wish him all the best at UT. Thanks for making it fun to watch Penn State play defense again, Bob.