Just two days after preaching the importance of continuity, Bill O'Brien found himself saying goodbye to his top assistant.
Though Penn State managed to hold onto its head coach, the Nittany Lions have a change at defensive coordinator. Ted Roof has resigned from O'Brien's staff after one season to take the defensive coordinator job at Georgia Tech, his alma mater.
Georgia Tech announced the move Wednesday afternoon. Penn State confirmed Roof's departure and announced that secondary coach John Butler will replace him as defensive boss for the Lions.
Butler, 39, was hired to O'Brien's new staff a year ago this week and took charge of a painfully thin defensive backfield that finished 50th against the pass in 2012.
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 a 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.
For Roof, the move is a return home. He and his wife are Georgia natives and Roof himself played linebacker for the Yellow Jackets, earning a spot in the school's athletic Hall of Fame.
According to Georgia Tech, the hire will not be made official until next week, pending a background check.
Roof was not made available for comment.
I've known Ted for a long time and I'm excited that he has decided to come back to Georgia Tech, Jackets coach Paul Johnson said in a statement.
Roof previously served as defensive coordinator for Tech from 1999-2001 after a year as linebackers coach. Both he and O'Brien were assistants for the Jackets under George O'Leary during that stretch. O'Brien and Roof have remained close friends since that time, with Roof giving O'Brien his first coordinator job while head coach at Duke.
I am very appreciative of Ted's contributions to Penn State, O'Brien said. Ted and I have known each other a long time and coached together at Georgia Tech, his alma mater.
Ted is a great coach and person, O'Brien continued. He earned the respect of our players and they enjoyed playing for him. We wish Ted and his family well.
This is the first coaching switch O'Brien has had to make since installing his new staff. At a press conference Monday, the Lions coach said he hoped to keep everyone together.
Obviously from a continuity standpoint, you'd love to keep them intact and do the best you can with that, O'Brien said. I think that these guys are paid well. I think that they can always be paid better, and I think there's things that we've talked about from day one here – (acting athletic director Dave Joyner) and I – about ways that we can do that, whether it's a bowl bonus or what bowl we would have gone to if we win a certain amount of games. Things like that.
So those are conversations that take place, and … we'll do the best we can to continue to try to make it attractive to coach here.
O'Brien said he did not ask for or receive a raise after choosing to stay at Penn State following interviews with NFL teams last week.
When asked if the assistant coaches received an added bump in salary this week, Joyner said Monday, Everything is as it has been. I'm not going to talk about personnel things.
We're always trying to improve things for people. We have budgets to live with and we have to run it as a good business, but you want to keep your people happy. I can say this – the people who work here don't work here for the money. They're certainly well compensated, but on the other hand, that's not what motivates them.
Quick transitions are nothing new for Roof. After reaching a split with Auburn at the end of the 2011 regular season, he rejoined O'Leary to be the coordinator at Central Florida. That lasted for just a month before he was hired by Penn State.
Since being fired as head coach at Duke in 2007, Roof has held jobs with five different schools.
In promoting Butler, the Lions will keep the same coaching structure that has been in place on defense for over a decade. Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden, the lone holdovers from Joe Paterno's former staff, will remain as defensive line coach and linebackers coach, respectively.Penn State will now look for a new secondary coach to replace Butler. Though he was one of seven new hires for the staff last January, Butler was the only one not to have previously coached with O'Brien. Butler's link was actually Roof, whom he coached with at Minnesota for one season.It will be the first major coordinator job for Butler. He previously served as a position coach at FBS schools South Carolina (2011) and Minnesota (2007-10) as well as FCS schools Harvard (2003-06) and Texas State (2001-02).
Butler began his career as defensive coordinator at his alma mater, Division III Catholic University, and at Division II Midwestern State. The Philadelphia native attended LaSalle College High School along with Penn State strength coach Craig Fitzgerald.
Though O'Brien drew the most attention for his sideline interactions with officials in 2012, Butler often topped him as the most demonstrative coach on the staff.
The fiery Butler, who also oversaw special teams on game days, was frequently at the edge of the grass and wasn't afraid to let his players hear it when they made a mistake.
But those same players spoke highly of both him and Roof during the season and again on Wednesday.
If you know me and know how I feel about John Butler, then you know how ecstatic I am for Coach and his family, departing cornerback Stephon Morris wrote on his Twitter account. My (favorite) coach ever!