When Tennessee parted ways with former defensive coordinator John Jancek earlier this week, it seemed that the search immediately focused on one man.
Tennessee got its guy Saturday evening when the Vols confirmed that Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, who was the first and only defensive coordinator candidate to visit Knoxville this week, agreed in in principle to lead the Vols’ defense, leaving a $1 million per year contract at PSU in the process. Shoop’s deal will reportedly be for three years at $1.15 million per season with the Vols.
“We are very excited about the addition of Bob Shoop to our coaching staff,” Butch Jones said in a release. “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 added in the release. “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 to 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 has been the head of several successful defenses over the last half decade, starting in Vanderbilt in 2011. The Commordores were ranked in the top six SEC defenses in terms of overall yards allowed in all three seasons Shoop was defensive coordinator there, and Shoop followed then Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin to Penn State when he accepted the head coaching job there.
In 2014, Shoop’s Penn State defense allowed the fewest yards per game in the Big Ten, giving up just an average of 278.7 yards a contest. That defense was the second-best overall defense in the country in 2014, trailing only Clemson for fewest yards allowed per game. His 2015 slipped a little but remained in the top five in the conference, giving up a mere 324.5 yards a game.
Only once has a Shoop-led defense given up more than 22 points a game in a season, and that was his 2013 Vanderbilt defense that gave up an average of 24.6 points to opponents.
Shoop was named the 2014 Defensive Coordinator of the year according to 247Sports for his first Penn State defense, and he has ties to the Nashville area in recruiting thanks to his time at Vanderbilt. The Vols pursue the middle Tennessee area with a passion in recruiting, and getting a coach like Shoop that is familiar with the area only helps Tennessee there.
Tennessee’s defense gave up exactly 20 points and 362 yards a game in 2015, numbers that improved slightly from 2014 when the Vols allowed 24.2 points and 364.6 yards a game. With Shoop at the helm, however, the Vols hope to take that next step and become one of the SEC’s best defenses in 2016.