Roof heads home after 'privilege' of being at PSU

Roof heads home after 'privilege' of being at PSU

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Former Penn State defensive coordinator Ted Roof won't forget his one season in Happy Valley.

But home is home. And after the opportunity arose quickly to take the same position at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, he said he made the difficult decision to leave the Nittany Lions and return to his native Georgia.

``That was a real privilege and special deal for me to be part of that football team,'' Roof said about the 2012 Penn State season in a phone interview Thursday with The Associated Press. He called it a special year and the team a ``special group of guys.''

After Roof told Nittany Lions coach Bill O'Brien he was leaving Wednesday morning, new defensive coordinator John Butler got a visit in his office from the boss.

``Billy came in and said, `I'm going to promote you to defensive coordinator,''' said Butler, the former secondary coach, in recounting the conversation. He responded, ``That's great, thanks a lot. What do you need me to do?''

``It wasn't like there was a surprise party associated with it,'' said Butler, known for his animated histrionics on the field during games. ``You just move on.''

Roof's departure seemed to catch most people around the program by surprise. Roof said the opportunity at Georgia Tech only surfaced about two days ago.

In a statement Wednesday, Georgia Tech said Roof's hiring won't become official until a background check is completed, likely next week.

Roof played for the Yellow Jackets, and was an assistant under former coach George O'Leary, as well. O'Brien was also on that Georgia Tech staff. Roof was the head coach at Duke from 2003-7, where the Blue Devils went just 6-45. O'Brien was offensive coordinator at Duke from 2005-6.

A year ago, O'Brien lured Roof to State College just weeks after Roof had taken the defensive coordinator job at Central Florida under O'Leary. He was one of O'Brien's first hires as the new coach began shepherding the Nittany Lions through the rocky aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

At 8-4, this season turned out to be a success for O'Brien and Roof - especially given the scrutiny around the team after the NCAA handed down its sanctions over the summer.

The Nittany Lions were already known for good defense under Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno and longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, and Roof tweaked the schemes with more blitzes and different looks. Under his watch, Penn State was second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (19.1 points), first in sacks (34) and first in red-zone defense. He was also instrumental in opening up recruiting avenues in the South for Penn State, including the trail that led to backup quarterback Steven Bench, of Georgia.

Roof appeared to forge strong bonds with players, including senior linebacker Michael Mauti, during the stressful year. He said this team would be remembered ``because of the heart and commitment that they showed and exhibited ... Everything that's right about college football.''

When asked if there were any hard feelings in his departure, Roof quickly said ``Absolutely not.''

O'Brien, in a statement Wednesday, praised Roof and wished him well: ``Ted is a great coach and person. He earned the respect of our players and they enjoyed playing for him.''

Now, Butler will be Penn State's third defensive coordinator in three years. Bradley was the defensive coordinator for 11 seasons but left after O'Brien took over.

Butler, a 19-year coaching veteran, was a linebackers coach at Minnesota in Roof's one season there as defensive coordinator in 2008. He also coached at South Carolina, but this will be his first go-around as a coordinator.

Butler expected defensive line coach Larry Johnson and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden to remain on staff. Both are well-respected position coaches and recruiters who were held over by O'Brien from the previous staff.

``There's going to be a ton of consistency with Ron being here and Larry,'' Butler said. ``We're going to put this thing together. It will be very similar to what we did in 2012.''

Butler expects to keep his secondary responsibilities as well, but likely will be limited to either just the cornerbacks or safeties. It would still leave one opening on the Penn State staff.

The Nittany Lions will lose Mauti, Gerald Hodges, and Jordan Hill in 2013, all key defensive starters. Six starters return including defensive end Deion Barnes, middle linebacker Glenn Carson and three members of the secondary.


Follow Genaro Armas athttp://twitter.com/GArmasAP

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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

The Washington Wizards lost to the Denver Nuggets 108-100 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Another loss: It is becoming more and more clear that the Wizards need a shot in the arm, something to change the direction of where they are currently heading.

Whether that will come in the form of All-Star point guard John Wall returning from his months-long absence, an adjustment to their lineup or strategy, or something else entirely, the losses are piling up and at a tough time in the season.

With another loss on Friday night, their seventh in their last 11 games, the Wizards are now 40-32. They have plenty of room to still clinch a playoff berth, as their magic number stands at two, but they only have 10 games left to secure their all-important playoff seed.

Both the Pacers and Cavaliers, two teams just ahead of them in the playoff race, won on Friday.

The Wizards lost their second straight game and again offense was their problem. They scored 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers.

Big third quarter: The Denver Nuggets have emerged as a team on the rise, a young squad with burgeoning stars that could someday soon make some noise in the Western Conference. The reason is because they are very good on offense. Defense is a much different story.

That was not the case on Friday night, as the Wizards had all sorts of trouble scoring in three of their four quarters. They managed just 43 points by halftime, the fewest the Nuggets have allowed in a first half since Jan. 27.

The Wizards, though, did get cooking in the third quarter. They erupted for 33 points in the frame while shooting 63.2 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from three. Markieff Morris, who finished with 17, had 11 points in the third quarter and Bradley Beal (24 points) hit three threes.

The Wizards also found a solution for Jamal Murray, one of the Nuggets' brightest young stars. He had 20 points at halftime, but went scoreless in nine minutes in the third quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. (15 points) was among those who gave him trouble. Murry finished with 25.

The big third quarter reflected well on the Wizards' ability to make adjustments, but their 24-point fourth quarter flipped the script again.


Didn't force mistakes: The first time these teams squared off back in October, the Wizards forced the Nuggets into 23 turnovers. This game was a very different story. 

The Nuggets didn't commit their first turnover until midway through the second quarter and had only three by halftime. They had just 10 turnovers for the game.

Denver deserves some credit for limiting their mistakes, but all of it did not reflect well on the Wizards' defense. They didn't put enough pressure on the ball and failed to disrupt passing lanes like they usually do. It was uncharacteristic, as the Wizards entered the game 10th in average turnovers forced.

Not creating mistakes allowed the Nuggets to get way to many field goal attempts. Though they shot just 43.5 percent, Denver managed 108 points. And not getting turnovers offered the Wizards few opportunities for easy transition buckets.

Turnovers were one issue with the Wizards' defense. So was defending the perimeter, as the Nuggets shot 17-for-34 (50%) from long range.


Special night: Halftime offered a memorable moment in franchise history as legendary player and broadcast Phil Chenier had his No. 45 jersey retired by the team. His longtime broadcaster and friend Steve Buckhantz hosted the ceremony with about 20 friends and family members of Chenier's seated behind him. Buckhantz had opening comments, then majority owner Ted Leonsis spoke as everyone in the crowd stood and cheered.

Then, it was Chenier's time to talk. He thanked his former teammates, members of the organization and those close to him. He kept his composure until the very end when he brought up his mother, Peggy, who could not make the event. Chenier choked up and wiped away tears as he described what she has meant to him in his life.

It was a powerful moment and a great ceremony to honor a guy who has impacted the lives of many in the D.C. area. Now, his No. 45 will hang up in the rafters forever. That banner, by the way, features a picture of a microphone and the phrase '33 years,' signifying how long he was the color analyst for Bullets and Wizards games.


Up next: The Wizards do not have a game Saturday, though they are going to practice and Wall is expected to take a big step forward in his rehab. Their next game is Sunday at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington when they host the Knicks. That will also be a special game, as the Wizards are set to honor the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship.

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy.