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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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Are the Wizards waiting too long to choose a new team president?

Are the Wizards waiting too long to choose a new team president?

The Washington Wizards have operated throughout their search for a new team president with patience and for a while it appeared that approach had paid off, as they got close to filling the position over the weekend before Tim Connelly returned to Denver. That patience, though, could be put to the test very soon.

The NBA Combine is already in the books. So, unless they decide to promote interim president Tommy Sheppard, the person who will ultimately be making the call with the ninth overall pick on draft night will have been absent from the face-to-face interviews they conducted in Chicago, IL. It is not ideal, but by waiting this long clearly the Wizards have made peace with that.

They still have some time between now and the NBA global camp on May 30 and Wizards pre-draft workouts are not scheduled to begin until the first week of June. The draft is still about a month away and the deadline to extend qualifying offers to their restricted free agents is June 30. 

Whomever leads this team will need to decide on guys like Tomas Satoransky, Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis. But still, there is time. 

What could throw the biggest wrench into the Wizards' timeline is the impending announcement of All-NBA teams. If Bradley Beal makes All-NBA, which the ballots that have been made public already suggest he has a very good chance to do so, he will be eligible for a supermax contract. 

That would present the Wizards with a complicated situation, one that wouldn't need to be settled overnight but would instantly become the most important story surrounding the team. 

A supermax for Beal is projected to be worth $194 million over four years and would start in the 2021-22 season. With John Wall already signed to a supermax contract, it would be difficult to afford both and still fill out the rest of a competitive roster. Two players would make 70-plus percent of the cap.

If the Wizards determine they can't pay both Beal and Wall long-term, something will have to give. It could lead to a trade.

Deciding on Beal's future, one could argue, may end up being one of the most important calls the Wizards' next team president will have to make in their entire career in Washington. And they would be faced with it as soon as they take the job.

Depending on the timing, the question could even define their introductory press conference. The new president and owner Ted Leonsis would certainly be asked about it.

That is all not to mention how the job could be viewed if Beal makes All-NBA before the position is filled. Anyone who takes the Wizards job will already be doing so with an understanding that it may take time to build a contender given Wall's contract and the fact he is coming off Achilles surgery.

On top of all that, there would be questions about whether the Wizards would offer Beal the contract and, if they offered it, whether he would take it. Beal already raised some doubt about whether he would accept the money, given he has already made plenty in his career and wants to win. 

That standoff could lead to a barrage of trade rumors, which can overshadow just about anything in today's NBA. Just ask the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Beal decision technically would not have to be made for months. If he makes All-NBA, he won't be able to sign the supermax until July 6, when the free agency moratorium ends. They can sign Beal to an extension all the way up until the day before the 2019-20 regular season begins.

But it could become a pressing issue very soon and before the Wizards' next team architect even takes the job.

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Mike Rizzo: Nationals are 'aggressively' trying to re-sign Anthony Rendon

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Mike Rizzo: Nationals are 'aggressively' trying to re-sign Anthony Rendon

The Washington Nationals have every intention of trying to reach a long-term deal with Anthony Rendon, GM Mike Rizzo said, looking to quell concern after a report Tuesday that he may be on his way out after the 2019 season.

"Anthony Rendon is a guy that we drafted, developed, signed and watch turn into a star in front of our eyes," Rizzo said on The Sports Junkies Wednesday. "He’s a guy that we’d like to have long-term. We’re certainly going to be aggressive and try to make that happen and hopefully, it will."

Nationals fans are growing anxious after the front office couldn't get a deal done with Bryce Harper, hoping a repeat wouldn't happen with Rendon who has had a breakout career with the Nats.

"We have shown that we’re not afraid to sign our own players, we’re not afraid to sign free agent players, and we’re not afraid to spend money on stars of the game and I don’t think Anthony Rendon would be any different," Rizzo said.

Grant Paulsen said on Tuesday on 106.7 The Fan's "Grant and Danny Show," that he believes the Nationals have missed their opportunity to re-sign Rendon.

"Here's something I heard from someone who recently talked to Scott Boras," Paulsen said. "Apparently, he told that person that the Nationals already missed the boat on getting a deal done with Anthony Rendon." 

Rizzo and the Nationals have already offered Rendon a contract extension in late March, to which he turned down. Since then, nothing has come to fruition. 

"It also takes two to get a deal done," Rizzo said. "We're aggressively trying to sign Anthony Rendon. We’d love to have him here as a National long-term.”

The Nationals look to bounce back after two straight losses to the New York Mets tonight at 7:10 p.m.

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