Rating Past Defensive Coordinators

psu skp

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While very subjective, I would rank Penn State's eight prior Defensive Coordinators (since 1935) as follows, based on the performance of the units they lead. Four of them were former Penn State players and four came from other schools.

1. Jim O'Hora (1954-1976) It is hard to argue with the results achieved by Penn State defenses under Jim O'Hora. Hired as a defensive line coach in 1946 and promoted in 1954, his defenses were always dominant and well-prepared. He installed Paterno's revolutionary 4-4 scheme in 1967 and was one of the greatest developers of interior defensive linemen in college football history.

2. Al Michaels (1936-1953) While the term Defensive Coordinator wasn't used until later, former PSU QB Michaels was Penn State's top defensive strategists and scout beginning in the mid-1930s. His 1938 defense still hold the NCAA record for best pass defense in a season while the 1947 unit still holds the record for best rush defense in a season. He left to be the DC at NC State and retired in 1974. His defenses had a total of 62 shutouts in his career.

3. Jerry Sandusky (1977-1999) While his work ethic & recruiting were questionable later in his career and his personal conduct is beyond inexcusable, there is no question that the guy could put together a great game plan, especially in big games. His defenses were consistently strong despite turnover of assistant coaches and the emergence of more sophisticated offenses.

4. Tom Bradley (2000-2011) After a bit of a rough start, Bradley's defenses began to rate among the best in the nation starting around 2004. A great leader and recruiter, he was also one of the best developers of defensive backs in school history.

5. Brent Pry (2016-2021) A very effective linebackers coach, Pry's defenses tended to give up more points and yards than are the norm at Penn State, but he emerged as a strong tactician and recruiter.

6. Bob Shoop (2014-2015) James Franklin's first DC overcame scholarship limits to lead two solid units before leaving for Tennessee. His stock drops largely due to his 2015 squad suffering a late-season meltdown.

7. Ted Roof (2012) Brought in by Bill O'Brien, Roof inherited a ton of talent and two great assistants (Larry Johnson & Ron Vanderlinden) while putting together a respectable defensive unit before leaving for Georgia Tech.

8. John Butler (2013) A skilled defensive backs coach, Butler's lone year as DC was a disaster, giving up 32 points per game in conference play.
 
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RaymondReddington

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While very subjective, I would rank Penn State's eight prior Defensive Coordinators (since 1935) as follows, based on the performance of the units they lead. Four of them were former Penn State players and four came from other schools.

1. Jim O'Hora (1954-1976) It is hard to argue with the results achieved by Penn State defenses under Jim O'Hora. Hired as a defensive line coach in 1946 and promoted in 1954, his defenses were always dominant and

2. Al Michaels (1936-1953) While the term Defensive Coordinator wasn't used until later, former PSU QB Michaels was Penn State's top defensive strategists and scout beginning in the mid-1930s. His 1938 defense still hold the NCAA record for best pass defense in a season while the 1947 unit still holds the record for best rush defense in a season. He left to be the DC at NC State and retired in 1974. His defenses had a total of 62 shutouts in his career.

3. Jerry Sandusky (1977-1999) While his work ethic & recruiting were questionable later in his career and his personal conduct is beyond inexcusable, there is no question that the guy could put together a great game plan, especially in big games. His defenses were consistently strong despite turnover of assistant coaches and the emergence of more sophisticated offenses.

4. Tom Bradley (2000-2011) After a bit of a rough start, Bradley's defenses began to rate among the best in the nation starting around 2004. A great leader and recruiter, he was also one of the best developers of defensive backs in school history.

5. Brent Pry (2016-2021) A very effective linebackers coach, Pry's defenses tended to give up more points and yards than are the norm at Penn State, but he emerged as a strong tactician and recruiter.

6. Bob Shoop (2014-2015) James Franklin's first DC overcame scholarship limits to lead two solid units before leaving for Tennessee. His stock drops largely due to his 2015 squad suffering a late-season meltdown.

7. Ted Roof (2012) Brought in by Bill O'Brien, Roof inherited a ton of talent and two great assistants (Larry Johnson & Ron Vanderlinden) while putting together a respectable defensive unit before leaving for Georgia Tech.

8. John Butler (2013) A skilled defensive backs coach, Butler's lone year as DC was a disaster, giving up 32 points per game in conference play.
Shoop's defenses at Tennessee and Mississippi State also sh*t the bed. His star has fallen.
 
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PSUcup1

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I thought Ted Roof did a great job his year here. People always talk about in game adjustments (really lack there of)… his adjustment after the first 2 drives of the Wisconsin game was amazing.

I also recall him going up to OB in the 2nd half of the Illinois game and you could see him tell OB to “run it the **** up” on Illinois after what they did that off- season

Wish he had stayed here
 
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psu skp

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I thought Ted Roof did a great job his year here. People always talk about in game adjustments (really lack there of)… his adjustment after the first 2 drives of the Wisconsin game was amazing.

I also recall him going up to OB in the 2nd half of the Illinois game and you could see him tell OB to “run it the **** up” on Illinois after what they did that off- season

Wish he had stayed here
Yeah, probably could rank TR higher on this list, especially if you take into consideration his entire resume compared with some others. I just felt that--given the players and assistant coaches he had to work with--our D should have been a bit better in 2012. Luckily, BoB's offense averaged almost 30-points per game so we had a solid 8-4 season.
 

McCloudersportLion

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Let's be honest, you give Jimmy Johnson or Luke Fickell the defense in 85 then it would have been good night Sooner and walk up and Braveheart kilt flasher Troy Aikman off the bench too.
 

marshall23

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May 23, 2013
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While very subjective, I would rank Penn State's eight prior Defensive Coordinators (since 1935) as follows, based on the performance of the units they lead. Four of them were former Penn State players and four came from other schools.

1. Jim O'Hora (1954-1976) It is hard to argue with the results achieved by Penn State defenses under Jim O'Hora. Hired as a defensive line coach in 1946 and promoted in 1954, his defenses were always dominant and well-prepared. He installed Paterno's revolutionary 4-4 scheme in 1967 and was one of the greatest developers of interior defensive linemen in college football history.

2. Al Michaels (1936-1953) While the term Defensive Coordinator wasn't used until later, former PSU QB Michaels was Penn State's top defensive strategists and scout beginning in the mid-1930s. His 1938 defense still hold the NCAA record for best pass defense in a season while the 1947 unit still holds the record for best rush defense in a season. He left to be the DC at NC State and retired in 1974. His defenses had a total of 62 shutouts in his career.

3. Jerry Sandusky (1977-1999) While his work ethic & recruiting were questionable later in his career and his personal conduct is beyond inexcusable, there is no question that the guy could put together a great game plan, especially in big games. His defenses were consistently strong despite turnover of assistant coaches and the emergence of more sophisticated offenses.

4. Tom Bradley (2000-2011) After a bit of a rough start, Bradley's defenses began to rate among the best in the nation starting around 2004. A great leader and recruiter, he was also one of the best developers of defensive backs in school history.

5. Brent Pry (2016-2021) A very effective linebackers coach, Pry's defenses tended to give up more points and yards than are the norm at Penn State, but he emerged as a strong tactician and recruiter.

6. Bob Shoop (2014-2015) James Franklin's first DC overcame scholarship limits to lead two solid units before leaving for Tennessee. His stock drops largely due to his 2015 squad suffering a late-season meltdown.

7. Ted Roof (2012) Brought in by Bill O'Brien, Roof inherited a ton of talent and two great assistants (Larry Johnson & Ron Vanderlinden) while putting together a respectable defensive unit before leaving for Georgia Tech.

8. John Butler (2013) A skilled defensive backs coach, Butler's lone year as DC was a disaster, giving up 32 points per game in conference play.
Sandusky got credit for many things Joe did. I was fortunate to be present at many clinics in the 70s when Joe lectured on his split 4 defense and he was a genius.
 

DrJC

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May 29, 2001
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I think it is important to keep in mind when rating DC's, the talent of the players and the attitude the defense had regarding their jobs. I recall PSU defenses under O'Hora as being tough, tough, tough. They were downright mean. Opposing coaches would comment that it took them a week or two to heal after playing a PSU defense. They were often plain nasty. Keep that in mind.
 

PSUEngineer89

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Sandusky got credit for many things Joe did. I was fortunate to be present at many clinics in the 70s when Joe lectured on his split 4 defense and he was a genius.
I think this is the most overlooked part of Paterno.

He was probably a genius from a straight up IQ standpoint.
 

Wallace Breen

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Mar 11, 2016
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While I can't comment on the older coaches only starting to follow Penn State in 2000, the pecking order seems pretty clear.

1. Tom Bradley
2. Bob Shoop
3. Ted Roof
4. Brent Pry
5. John Butler - He did call the best game any of these men ever called in his last game at state.
 

Tweedbear

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Apr 6, 2014
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Sandusky got credit for many things Joe did. I was fortunate to be present at many clinics in the 70s when Joe lectured on his split 4 defense and he was a genius.
No Sandusky got credit for linebacker play that was introduced by Dan Radakovich .
Joe mentioned it once or twice in discussing defense.