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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.

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

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Trae Young joins Kobe Bryant in historic feat against Wizards

Trae Young joins Kobe Bryant in historic feat against Wizards

Following the passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday, emotions were high. 

Many current and former players paid tribute to Bryant, including Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, who dominated in the Hawks 152-133 win over the Wizards. 

He ended the night with a spectacular performance of 45 points, with 14 assists, making 13-of-24 FGs and 13-of-16 free throws as well as six 3-pointers, six rebounds and one assist. 

Young is the first player to have a 45-point double-double with under 25 field goal attempts against the Washington Wizards, since Kobe Bryant on December 17, 2006.

In honor of his mentor and favorite NBA player, Young wore a No. 8 jersey and took an 8-second-violation after the opening tip. 

He even wore his shoes with a tribute to Bryant as well. 

Young was able to channel his emotions into the game, leaving everything on the floor.

In an emotional night, Young was able to keep himself composed leading the Hawks past the Wizards. 

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Isaiah Thomas: NBA should have canceled games after Kobe Bryant's death

Isaiah Thomas: NBA should have canceled games after Kobe Bryant's death

The news of Kobe Bryant's death shook the sports world to its core, and while there were NBA games scheduled throughout Sunday, some felt the league should have canceled the games in light of the tragic news. 

Isaiah Thomas was one of them. 

"It's hard to even talk about it," Thomas said. "The NBA should have just canceled all the games because that put a dent in everybody's life that he's touched."

Thomas looked up to Bryant, admired him from afar and found his love for the game of basketball because of Bryant's greatness. Spending 20 years as a Laker, Bryant won five championships, an MVP and two Finals MVP awards to go along with 15 All-NBA selections and 18 trips to the All-Star game. 

For Thomas, his relationship with Bryant started to grow when he broke out as an All-Star in Boston. When Thomas suffered the tragic loss of his sister, they grew closer. After his hip injury that cost Thomas over a year of his career, Bryant supported him throughout. 

"I started basketball because of Kobe Bryant," he said. "2017, I lose my sister, 2019 I lose one of my best friends in Nipsey Hussle, and then to lose a mentor of mine, like, that's bigger than basketball, that [expletive] hurts.

"He was one of the people that was there for me and in my corner," he said. "And then I got injured, he was one of those guys that was there for me the whole time, helping me through mentally."

The NBA had a difficult decision to make on whether or not to cancel games since there were two games already in progress.

But before, during and after the game, everyone's thoughts were with Bryant and his family and not on a basketball game. Because as Thomas said, it's bigger than basketball. 

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